Seattle's First in Time Law Struck Down by King County Judge

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News ,

On Wednesday, March 28, Seattle's First-in-Time law was struck down by a King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien. 

The law, passed in 2016, required housing providers to provide direct links to screening criteria on all websites advertising available units, provide additional time to applicants who request it, and screen applicants in the order they provide their completed applications.    

In her ruling Judge Parisien said "The [First-in-Time] rule is also an unreasonable means of pursuing anti-discrimination because of is sweeping overbreadth." 

Judge Parisien goes on to say " the [First-in-Time] rule restricts far more speech than necessary to achieve its purposes in stopping discrimination.  It imposes sweeping advertising restrictions on all Seattle landlords, restricting their speech without any individualized suspicion of disparate treatment "  A copy of the Judge's opinion can be found here

Most importantly, this ruling sets aside the advertising requirements that were impossible to comply with.  

It is too soon to know whether the City of Seattle will seek to appeal the decision filed today.  

How does this affect your everyday operations

  • Previously, the law regulated how you advertised available units.  Since the law has been overturned, there is no longer a legal requirement to post screening criteria in all advertising.  State law requires you provide screening criteria prior to obtaining any information from the applicant. 
  • In addition, requirements in the law to hold a unit for 48 hours after providing an offer of tenancy, and providing 72 hours for applicants to provide additional information are no longer required
  • The law also required a date and time stamp for each application.  This is no longer required.  

To learn more about Fair Housing Best Practices, visit the Fair Housing page on WMFHA's website.