Seattle Landlords Ordered to Provide Tenants with Voter Registration Info

by Chris on July 3, 2017

The Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance that requires landlords there to provide voter registration information to existing and new tenants. The measure, which was passed Council 6-0 and was signed by the mayor, goes into effect later this month.

According to lawmakers, renters, especially those who move frequently, are less likely to vote.

Voter registration information must be provided to existing tenants, new tenants, and renewing tenants, and the information must be updated annually for month-to-month tenants. The information required will be included in disclosures already provided by landlords in Seattle.

According to lawmakers, landlords only will be responsible for providing this information to tenants and are not expected to advise tenants about registering to vote, including eligibility requirements, or to assist tenants in completing the forms.

However, landlords may suffer penalties for failure to supply the information. A tenant may terminate the rental agreement, and sue the landlord to recover a penalty of up to $500, personal damages and attorney’s fees. For deliberate failure to provide the information, the penalty grows to $1,000.

An amendment to the original proposal provides lawmakers the authority to track voter registrations that result from the landlord disclosures in order to test the impact of the ordinance. This may involve a unique web address for online registrations, or a customized voter tracking number.

While some landlords applaud the move, others say that a broader effort, such as including information in utility bills, would be more effective.

Recently, a group of landlords sued the city over an earlier rental ordinance that requires landlords to set minimum qualification standards and then accept the first qualified rental applicant.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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