Case Overview

Rentberry v. City of Seattle

Rentberry is a small San Francisco-based start-up that connects landlords and renters through a rent-bidding website. This fledgling innovation speeds up the renting process, boosts transparency, and helps both parties reach an optimal market price. Rentberry has been successful in other cities and hopes to expand to Seattle, but the city council has adopted a one-year moratorium on rent-bidding websites over unfounded fears that such sites might violate existing rental law and inflate housing costs.

The explicit purpose of the moratorium is to suspend all rent-bidding services while the city investigates if they comply with the first-in-time rule and other city regulations. The city also wants to study the possible effects of these services on the housing market before allowing landlords and renters to use them. The ordinance allows the city council to extend the moratorium for another year if city officials request more time to complete the study.

Thanks to the moratorium, Seattle renters and landlords cannot use this cost-effective means of meeting housing needs.

Representing Rentberry and Seattle landlord Delaney Wysingle free of charge, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit challenging Seattle’s moratorium as violating the speech rights of Rentberry, as well as the landlords and renters who would like to use this innovation technology.

Case Attorneys

Deborah J. La Fetra

Senior Attorney

Wen Fa

Attorney

Jim Manley

Attorney