Washington Considers Ban on Housing Discrimination Based on Source of Income

Lawmakers in the state of Washington are considering a bill that would prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants based on the source of their income. Twelve states already prohibit source-of-income discrimination against tenants.

Senate Bill 5407 would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants whose income includes housing subsidies, veterans’ assistance, or other forms of public assistance. It also would prevent landlords from refusing to rent property, expelling tenants, or discouraging rental to a tenant based on his or her income source. State law already prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their sex, race, sexual orientation, and other factors.

The bill is sponsored by Senator David Frockt, and passed with the strong support of Senator Mark Mullet, chair of the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee.

“I can think of no more urgent issue in our state than making sure that people have access to affordable housing,” Frockt said in a statement. “We want people to be able to live in their homes and not be forced into housing distress and the myriad consequences of that.”

SB 5407 offers protections to landlords, in the form of a mitigation fund. The fund would provide landlords who rent to tenants with qualifying sources of income up to 14 days of lost rental income, up to $1,000 for eligible repairs, and reimbursements for damages reflected in a judgement obtained against a tenant. This innovation—the first of its kind in the country—is designed to address landlord concerns and was developed in close consultation with landlord groups. As a result of this work, the measure received strong bipartisan support, passing with a 33 to 14 vote.

“We’re proud to be the first state to partner with private landlords to expand access to housing for people with Section 8 vouchers,” Mullet said.

The bill SB 5407 now moves to the House for consideration.

Source: Office of Senator David Frockt