Court upholds Seattle’s first-come, first-served law for renters

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Supreme Court has upheld a Seattle law that requires landlords to publicize their criteria for prospective renters and accept the first qualified applicant.

The Seattle Times reports that the court on Thursday reversed a decision by a King County judge last year to strike down the first-come, first-served law for renters, which was adopted by the City Council in 2016.

In a unanimous opinion, the court rejected claims by landlords who said the 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.

“I’m heartened that, three years after passage of the legislation, the (upper) courts agree: landlords must accept the first qualified applicant to live in a rental property,” said Seattle City Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, who introduced the ordinance.

In a separate case related to a Seattle law that mostly prohibits landlords from screening and choosing renters based on criminal records, the Supreme Court has also sided with the city.

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