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 pacificlegal.org/Yim.


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

Case Documents

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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization 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 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 11 victories out of 13 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For Media: If you are on deadline or need immediate assistance, please call/email our media team at 202-465-8733 or media@pacificlegal.org

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