March 30, 2018

Winning in Seattle: Judge blasts “first in time” landlord mandate

Seattle, Washington; March 30, 2018: A King County Superior Court judge today handed down a win for all Seattle landlords, restoring their freedom to choose their own tenants.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by several small-scale landlords whose rights were threatened by the city’s new “first in time” (FIT) rule. The rule forced landlords to rent their property to the first qualified applicant, even if the landlord has good reasons to pick someone else.

The city insisted the rule was needed to overcome landlords’ subconscious discriminatory tendencies when selecting tenants. But Judge Suzanne Parisien disagreed. “Choosing a tenant is a fundamental attribute of property ownership,” she wrote in her opinion. “The FIT rule restricts far more speech than necessary to achieve its purposes in stopping discrimination.”

“One bad tenant could take us years to recover from financially,” said PLF client MariLyn Yim, who owns a duplex and triplex in Seattle with her husband. “We’re so glad to once again have our rightful ability to carefully select tenants and manage our risk.”

“Today’s win means that property rights are still alive in Washington State,” said PLF attorney Ethan Blevins. “Seattle can’t just strip landlords of the basic choice over who will live on their property for years to come.” The ruling means the city can no longer enforce the FIT rule.

The case is Yim v. City of Seattle. More information is available at

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Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is the nation’s leading public interest legal organization devoted to preserving individual rights and economic freedom. Since 1973, donor-supported PLF has successfully litigated for limited government, private property rights, and free enterprise in the nation’s highest courts.

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