Press Release

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 pacificlegal.org/Yim.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
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.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Collin Callahan at ccallahan@pacificlegal.org.

 

Case Attorneys

Ethan W. Blevins

Attorney

Ethan Blevins joined PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in August 2014. He litigates cases involving the First Amendment, property rights, school choice, and the separation of powers. Ethan began his trek … ›

View profile

Brian T. Hodges

Senior Attorney

Brian Hodges is a Senior Attorney at PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in Bellevue, Washington. Brian focuses his practice on defending of the right of individuals to make reasonable use of … ›

View profile

Case Commentary

See all posts
Post

By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation report — May 26, 2018

The Constitution protects property rights from unelected government agencies Holding state administrative agencies accountable to the law Does “land owned or controlled by the Federal Government” include the ocean? PLF … ›

Read more
Post

By Ethan W. Blevins

We’ve sued Seattle again!

Today, PLF sued Seattle over another newfangled experiment–the so-called “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance.” The ordinance prohibits landlords from doing any criminal background checks on potential tenants or turning down a housing … ›

Read more
Post

By Ethan W. Blevins

Victory in PLF’s challenge to Seattle’s “implicit bias” rule

Today, a trial judge ruled that Seattle can’t deny landlords the right to choose their own tenants. Seattle’s “first in time” rule forced landlords to offer any vacant unit to the … ›

Read more