$150K settlement in lawsuit over tenant checks

SEATTL — A company that screens tenants for rental housing has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit over its background check practices.

The class-action case was filed in April by a Kent woman who was denied rental housing based on drug convictions that were 17 and 24 years old. Under state law, such background checks aren’t supposed to include cases unless the conviction, sentence or parole period occurred within the past seven years.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and two other firms took on the case, representing 273 people denied housing in Washington based on old criminal convictions.

Under the settlement, the screening company, Yardi Systems Inc., did not admit wrongdoing, but will pay $400 to each of the plaintiffs plus $32,600 in attorney fees as well as some other costs.

The company also agreed to modify its practices to prevent similar instances in the future.

The settlement was given preliminary approval in King County Superior Court last week.

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