Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed legislation Wednesday that he says will help people who have criminal backgrounds find housing.
"If we're going to knock down barriers to housing, we have to knock down the barrier to people who are re-engaging after they have served their time," Murray said.
The ordinance places restrictions on landlords and to whom they can and cannot rent.
It prohibits blanket exclusions based on criminal convictions when advertising a rental unit. It also does not allow landlords to ask about or consider arrests that didn't lead to a conviction and convictions that are older than two years.
If a landlord takes adverse action based on a conviction that is less than two years old or an adult's sex offender registry status, a business justification is required.
Proponents of the legislation said current regulations make it more difficult for people of color or those who are homeless to find housing.
Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, a bill co-sponsor, said landlords can still screen tenants based on other factors, such as employment, credit scores and income ratios.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington opposed the measure, calling it poor policy with unintended consequences. The group said a mandate offering no supportive services wouldn't encourage landlords to take chances on under-qualified applicants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.