In 2016, the Seattle City Council passed a new law requiring landlords in the city to publish a list of “criteria” for prospective renters and then rent the property to the first applicant who met the basic qualifications. This obvious intrusion into the rights of the property owners was immediately challenged and the law was struck down in county court. But now, on appeal, the state supreme court has reversed that decision and allowed the law to go into effect. (Seattle Times)
The Washington state Supreme Court has upheld Seattle’s first-come, first-served law for renters, believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
In a unanimous written opinion published Thursday, the court rejected claims by landlords who said the groundbreaking law amounted to a regulatory taking of private property and who said it violated their due-process and free-speech rights under the state Constitution.
The court reversed a decision by a King County judge last year to strike down Seattle’s law, which was adopted by the City Council in 2016 and which required landlords to publicize their criteria for prospective renters and accept the first qualified applicant.
Why did the City Council want the law in the first place? Racism, of course. They were fearful that if landlords could take their pick of any number of qualified applicants, the landlord might make their choice based on race or some other “ism” related criteria. What that means is that the council was proactively accusing all the landlords in the city of racial discrimination without any specific actions to back up the claim.