A Washington company used by landlords for screening possible tenants has agreed to pay a settlement of $150k dollars to be distributed to the 200+ people in the class whose rights were affected by their improper background checks. The class representative, a lady from Kent, Washington, was denied as a tenant because of drug convictions that were 17 to 24 years old. This was a blatant disregard for a Washington law that prevents such disclosure of past crimes or convictions, unless it has occurred within the last 7 years.
Protecting the rights of people whose past is long gone and have arguably changed their lives around is important. This is obviously balanced against the need of landlords to protect their property rights and the property itself; no landlord wants to have a drug user destroy their rental property. However, the Washington legislature has spoken that the line is drawn at 7 years, which they believe is enough time to show that a tenant is no longer a danger to a prospective property owner. The company crossed that line and injured possible tenants’ rights by going farther back and looking under rocks that need not be disturbed.
While the company admitted no wrongdoing, they did agree to pay $400 to each party affected, and also agreed to pay the lawyers who did all the work to bring about the changes in their improper screening practices.