Ed Murray, Mayor
SUBJECT: Seattle’s fair housing posting rule takes effect January 31
1/17/2007 2:45:00 PM
Elliott Bronstein (206) 684-4507
Seattle’s fair housing posting rule takes effect January 31
The City of Seattle has had a long, complicated relationship with posters. Not too many years ago, the City banned posters from utility poles and other public view-spots. In 2007, the City is taking a different tack with a poster of a different sort: requiring residential housing providers and real estate businesses to post fair housing information on their premises, effective January 31, 2007.
Under Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 14.08.015, passed by Seattle City Council in late 2006, all residential property managers and real estate professionals within Seattle City limits must "prominently display" a letter-sized fair housing poster in their place of business. Failure to display the poster can result in fines ranging from $125 to $500. The poster is available free of charge (on request or by web download) from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), which is charged with enforcing the new ordinance.
Here are some of managers' most frequently asked questions concerning this new requirement:
Why is the City of Seattle taking this step?
Seattle City Council wants to ensure that information about fair housing is readily available to anyone who seeks housing in Seattle – including people who want to purchase a house or condominium. Federal regulations have long required housing providers to post fair housing information, although the rule has seldom been enforced.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Failure to post a fair housing poster can result in a fine of $125 for a first violation and fines of $500 for subsequent violations.
Where can I get posters for display?
You can request posters to be mailed to you by calling SOCR at 206-684-4500. You also can download a PDF of the poster by visiting http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/outreach.htm. Scroll down to the section on "Housing Issues" and click on the link to "Fair Housing Poster."
What does "prominently display" mean?
Posters should be readily accessible to anyone who visits a property rental office, apartment building or real estate business. Owners of properties that have no common areas, such as duplexes or single family homes, are not expected to display the posters. Instead, they should make copies available to applicants, new tenants and all other customers – even those who do not apply as tenants.
What happens when SOCR gets a complaint about a missing poster?
If SOCR receives a complaint based on SMC 14.08.015, we will send a staff person to the property within 48 hours to investigate the complaint. At the discretion of the director, SOCR may contact property owners with a "first-time" complaint to inform them of the ordinance, and to provide them with an opportunity to display the fair housing poster.
"The intent of the ordinance is to promote fair housing, not to seek out and punish housing providers," says Germaine W. Covington, director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. "We want to work closely with local rental and real estate businesses to ensure that this new requirement is implemented quickly and smoothly."
For more information about SMC 14.08.015, please contact SOCR's public information coordinator Elliott Bronstein at 206-684-4507, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a question about fair housing in Seattle? Call the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at 206-684-4500 (TTY 206-684-4503), or find SOCR on the web at www.seattle.gov/civilrights.
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