Throughout this state legislative session, we’ve been naming a Legislator of the Week as often as we have someone to highlight. We're giving some well deserved praise to folks in Olympia taking positive steps towards helping us increase affordable homes and end homelessness. This week, we're happy to recognize 28th District Representative Steve O’Ban (R-Pierce County) for his strong support of the Fair Tenant Screening Act, which will be signed by the Governor today.
Representative O'Ban serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where he is the assistant ranking minority member. In addition to voting yes twice on the House floor and urging his colleagues to join him, Rep. O'Ban worked to improve the bill by adding a penalty for tenant screening companies that violated it. Although that improvement proved unfeasible this year, Rep. O'Ban pledged on the House floor to work to add this provision in the future. We believe his strong support helped bring about the unanimous Senate vote on April 12.
Representative O'Ban is serving his first term and represents the 28th Legislative District, which includes West Tacoma, parts of University Place, and Lakewood. He's an attorney and has volunteered in legal clinics for people experiencing homelessness and also serves on the board of the Rescue Mission in Pierce County. He considers himself a social conservative and when asked why he cared so much about this bill he shared, “Victims of domestic violence often need to relocate to regain their lives and sense of safety. This legislation creates landlord screening boundaries to ensure victims of domestic violence can find safe housing for them and their children.”
The Fair Tenant Screening Act, as passed this year, will build on last year's victory by making it illegal for tenant screening companies to include information in their reports of a prospective tenant's status as a survivor of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Last year's bill requires a landlord to post their screening criteria and to provide tenants with an "adverse action notice" which states why they chose to not rent to them or to take other adverse actions like charging a higher deposit. Last year's victory also requires that tenant screening companies provide tenants with a free copy of the screening report if a tenant is denied housing.
We are happy that Representative O'Ban took leadership on this important issue and we look forward to working with him in the future to further advance protections for tenants.