Olympia, Washington; November 14, 2019: This morning, the Washington Supreme Court delivered a disappointing ruling for Pacific Legal Foundation clients Chong and MariLyn Yim; Kelly Lyles; Eileen, LLC; the Rental Housing Association of Washington; and property owners across the state in a pair of cases titled Yim v. City of Seattle.

The lawsuits challenged the constitutionality of two Seattle ordinances that deprive residential landlords from exercising one of their most basic property rights by forbidding them from choosing who they want as tenants. A “first-in-time” ordinance requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. And the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” bars landlords from considering applicants’ criminal histories.

“This decision is troubling for Washington state property owners whose rights have been under constant assault,” said Brian Hodges, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The court’s decision holds that property rights deserve less protection than all of the other rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights — a conclusion that flies in the face of the United States Supreme Court’s recent declaration that property rights are fully-fledged constitutional rights.

“The decision is also a loss for Seattle’s renters, who are faced with dwindling housing opportunities and rising costs as many rental property owners have left the market in response to the city’s draconian restrictions.”

Although today’s decisions are disappointing, this is not the end of the road. Because the decisions rely on the Washington Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, the decisions are subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court. PLF will ask the nation’s highest court to review these cases.


Yim I v. City of Seattle - Decision of the Washington Supreme Court
Yim II v. City of Seattle - Decision of the Washington Supreme Court
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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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