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Seattle ordinance aims to ending renter discrimination, preferred employer discounts

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Monday, the Seattle City Council approved an ordinance that banned a slew of discriminatory practices by landlords against renters.

Around this time last year, the issue of landlords and apartment complexes offering “preferred employer specials” was brought to light. The practice of offering special deals specific to employees of companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google might have seemed savvy from the perspective of properties looking to lock up dependable renters, but it also felt somewhat discriminatory to many considering it seemed to give a leg up to a subset of renters who didn’t need it over a larger group that needed it more.

Monday, the Seattle City Council approved an ordinance that banned a slew of discriminatory practices by landlords against renters, one of which the practice of offering special discounts to renters who work for specific companies.

The ordinance also bans discrimination based on sources of income, including government benefits and assistance programs. It also requires landlords to review criteria one at a time and pick the first applicant who meets minimum criteria, rather than looking for someone better. Landlords and also required to accept pledges from community organizations who offer to bail out renters who are about to be evicted, as long as said money arrives in a timely manner.

The point of the ordinance is to protect Seattle renters from discrimination on multiple fronts, especially as some of these tactics can be used as backdoor ways to discriminate based on race or religion. It won’t solve the city’s inventory problems, but hopefully it makes it somewhat easier for people to find a place to live and stay there.