Via the Seattle Times: Judge rejects Seattle’s ‘first-come, first-served’ rental law as unconstitutional
Seattle’s law requiring landlords to choose among qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis violates the state constitution, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Adopted by the City Council in 2016 and in effect since last year, the groundbreaking law “has a laudable goal of eliminating the role of implicit bias in tenancy decisions,” King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien said in a written ruling.
But choosing a tenant “is a fundamental attribute of property ownership,” Parisien said in striking down the law.
The decision is a victory for landlords represented by an attorney from the Bellevue office of the Pacific Legal Foundation.
The law allows initial screening of applicants based on standards such as credit scores.
But the plaintiffs claimed forcing landlords to accept the first qualified applicant violated their property, due-process and free-speech rights, and the judge sided with them on each point.
In my opinion, this is good news. The law as written was a clear overreach by the Seattle City Council. It’s nice to see that the judge agreed.
From the ruling:
Choosing a tenant is a fundamental attribute of property ownership.
The FIT rule’s few concessions to landlords interests’ do not redeem it.
The FIT rule also violates the “private use” requirement.
The FIT rule is also an unreasonable means of pursuing anti-discrimination because of its sweeping overbreadth.
Of course, the city is likely to appeal, but given the forceful language in the ruling, it seems unlikely that they will succeed in doing anything other than wasting time and money defending an unreasonable law.