Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Opportunity for increased state protection of renters
Rental-home owners not malicious
The Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHA) takes issue with many assertions made by Rory O’Sullivan in “Protect renters from housing denial” [Opinion, Nov. 15]. Evictions are not the result of rental-housing owners wanting to put someone on the street. They are the result of unpaid rent, tenant disputes, noise issues, criminal activity and public-safety issues. Evictions are costly and a last-resort decision for rental-housing owners.
RHA provides screening services for its members and does not, as O’Sullivan claims, “simply advise landlords to reject any tenant who has been the subject of an eviction action.” In fact, the vast majority of evictions never proceed beyond unlawful detainer due to other agreements to vacate being reached between the two parties. That does not mean a legitimate basis for an eviction filing did not exist. Sealing or disguising noneviction records disregards that fact and would set poor precedent for withholding access to public records.
For the sake of discussion I would ask, “Should consumers shopping for an automobile not be allowed to view its history prior to purchase?” Rental-housing owners are consumers when selecting tenants. Sealing evictions records would create an undue financial and safety risk for rental-housing owners who are providing affordable housing to communities at a time when it is most desperately needed.
– Sean Martin, director of external affairs, Rental Housing Association, Seattle