Washington, like every U.S. state, is governed by the federal Fair Housing Act. Although states cannot take away any protections granted by federal law, they are allowed to add more. Washington’s laws offer slightly broader protections
Washington State protects more renters against discrimination
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation (including gender identity)
- Source of income
- Veteran/military status
"Source of income" became a protected class in 2018
It has been illegal to reject an applicant because they use Section 8 vouchers for more than 25 years in Seattle. In 2016, the city widened these protections to encompass any lawful source of income. But it wasn’t until late 2018 that the entire state of Washington passed a ban on income discrimination, becoming the 14th state to do so.3
Today, it’s illegal for a landlord in Washington to reject an applicant solely because they receive city, state, or federal funding to help pay their rent. This includes:4
- Housing assistance
- Public assistance
- Emergency rental assistance
- Veterans benefits
- Social security
- Supplemental security income or other retirement programs
- Other programs administered by any federal, state, local, or nonprofit entity
Property owners who violate the law are liable for up to four and a half times the monthly rent, plus court fees and attorney costs.5 The 2018 law also created a fund to reimburse landlords for any damages or lost rent from tenants who rely on a source of income included in the law. A landlord can be reimbursed between $500 and $5,000, depending on several factors.6
Some cities in Washington protect even more renters
Certain cities in Washington have even broader fair housing laws. In Seattle, for instance, it’s also illegal to discrimination against someone based on their age, political ideology, or the use of a service animal.7
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
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