Topics on this page:
Before using any of this online tenant information, please read these Overview page sections:
- Understanding Landlord-Tenant Law
- Tools for Tenants
- Best Practices & Tips for Renters
Solid Ground Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. To read specific laws in the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of WA) links throughout this site.
Questions? Contact Us
Tenant ScreeningBACK TO TOP
In general, landlords are looking for tenants who will be able to pay rent consistently, treat their units with care, and are trouble-free neighbors. Every landlord has their own set of requirements for the tenants who live in their units and go about collecting that information in a variety of ways.
Some landlords use screening services to look up the information for them, and other landlords may do very little screening. Even if you have marks on your credit record, eviction history or criminal record, there is still much you can do to establish that you will be a good tenant.
It’s a good idea to have a complete rental résumé, including employment information, references from previous landlords, supervisors, social workers and other community members, such as pastors. This can be especially important if you have credit issues or blemishes in your rental history. If you have blemishes on your record, you may be able to offer an additional deposit or a shorter lease to move in. Landlords can use whatever screening criteria they desire, as long as they inform you of these criteria in writing during the application process and are applying them in a nondiscriminatory manner. If landlords ask a question of one type of renter, they must uniformly ask it of all renters who apply to live in their units in order to not be discriminatory.
1) Screening Process
3) Rental History
5) Criminal Record
6) Employment & Income
7) Discrimination in Tenant Screening
8) Social Security Number & Immigration Status
Housing Search QuestionsBACK TO TOP
As you start searching for housing, make a list of any questions you have. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to other tenants or to ask about the neighborhood, the nearest shopping centers, bus lines, or any visible damages to the unit. You can also speak to other residents in the building to find out what they like and don’t like about living there. You can gather information about other tenants’ experiences in the apartment building through internet research on any of the various apartment rating and review websites. See below for a detailed list of questions to ask a potential landlord.
It is crucial that you read a lease very carefully before you sign it. It is a legally binding contract, and you can be held to any and all of the conditions of tenancy once you sign the document, as long as they do not conflict with any state or local laws.
1) Before Signing a Rental Agreement
2) Rules of Tenancy
4) Other Fees
6) Condition of Unit
Resources: Low-Income HousingBACK TO TOP
Regional Access Points (RAPs) are the primary entry points for people within King County to access housing resources. These entry points are resource centers where households experiencing homelessness can get help finding housing and other resources. Individuals and families facing homelessness may call ahead to schedule an appointment. New appointment times are released each week. To schedule an appointment for an assessment, households may call 2-1-1 or 1.800.621.4636
There are several types of programs that offer low- and moderate-income housing for renters in Washington state. See HousingSearchNW.org, AptFinder.org or Washington State 2-1-1 for more detailed information on the different kinds of programs available in your area. For more detailed information on each program, see our Low-Income Housing Rights webpage.
1) Public Housing Authority
2) HUD Project-Based Section 8
3) Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
4) Nonprofit Housing Developers
5) Home Sharing or Room Renting
6) Deposit & Move-In Assistance
7) Fair Market Rentals
Resources: Housing SearchBACK TO TOP
- Regional Access Points (RAPs) are the primary entry points for people within King County to access housing resources. These entry points are resource centers where households experiencing homelessness can get help finding housing and other resources. Individuals and families facing homelessness may call ahead to schedule an appointment. New appointments times are released each week. To schedule an appointment for an assessment, households may call 2-1-1 or 1.800.621.4636
- AptFinder.org: Multifamily Affordable Properties website for affordable housing in Washington state
- HousingSearchNW.org: Rental listings for affordable housing in Washington state
- Tenant Screening – Your Rights: Washington LawHelp
- AnnualCreditReport.com: The only authorized site to request a copy of your free credit report
- A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: Federal Trade Commission website
- Can I Clear My Criminal Record?: Legal Voice
- Legal Assistance Guide: Compiled by Solid Ground Tenant Counselors
- Public Housing Authorities: Department of Housing and Urban Development website
- Juvenile Record Sealing Project: Team Child
- Sample Letter: Housing Denial for Criminal Record
- Second Chances Criminal Records Project: ACLU of Washington
- King County Office of Civil Rights
- Disputing Errors on Credit Reports: Federal Trade Commission
FAQs: Housing SearchBACK TO TOP
Q: Does the landlord have to take a copy of my credit report if I provide one?
Q: What if something on my credit report is incorrect or was placed there illegally?
Q: Can the landlord screen someone I want to move into my house with me?
Q: I have a family member or partner who lives elsewhere but will be staying over regularly in my unit. What are my rights?
Q: I’m concerned that my former landlord will misrepresent my rental history to a new potential landlord and give me a bad reference. What can I do?
Q: If I won in eviction court or was evicted illegally, can the eviction be used against me in the screening process?
Q: Can the landlord ask me my social security number or bank account numbers on the rental application?