In Washington state before obtaining any information about an applicant, the landlord must provide (in writing or by posting) the type of information to be accessed, the criteria to be used to evaluate the application, and (for consumer reports) the name and address of the consumer reporting agency to be used, including the applicant’s rights to obtain a free copy of the report and dispute its accuracy. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.257.)
Tenant Screening/Application Fee
If a prospective landlord conducts his or her own screening of tenants, the prospective landlord may charge his or her actual costs in obtaining the background information only if the prospective landlord provides the information as required in (a) of this subsection. The amount charged may not exceed the customary costs charged by a screening service in the general area. The prospective landlord’s actual costs include costs incurred for long distance phone calls and for time spent calling landlords, employers, and financial institutions.
Denying a Tenant
If a prospective landlord takes an adverse action, the prospective landlord shall provide a written notice of the adverse action to the prospective tenant that states the reasons for the adverse action. The adverse action notice must contain the following information in a substantially similar format, including additional information as may be required under chapter 19.182 RCW:
This notice is to inform you that your application has been:
….. Approved with conditions:
….. Residency requires an increased deposit
….. Residency requires a qualified guarantor
….. Residency requires last month’s rent
….. Residency requires an increased monthly rent of $……..
Adverse action on your application was based on the following:
….. Information contained in a consumer report (The prospective landlord must include the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting agency that furnished the consumer report that contributed to the adverse action.)
….. The consumer credit report did not contain sufficient information
….. Information received from previous rental history or reference
….. Information received in a criminal record
….. Information received in a civil record
….. Information received from an employment verification
Dated this ….. day of …….., 20….
Any landlord or prospective landlord who violates this section may be liable to the prospective tenant for an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars. The prevailing party may also recover court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Tenant Screening Service
See tenant credit checks.