First In Time . . . City of Seattle Suffers Rental Retardation

Industry Observer with RETIRED / State License is Inactive Inactive License Oregon

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To those who have known me for awhile, you know I've not published anything in months.  Well, today I was inspired.

I read the following article this morning:  First in Time Lawsuit:  Yin et al vs. City of Seattle.

The article is well written and easily digested  Please read it, but if you don't have time, here are a few bullet-points:

  • Due to housing issues in Seattle, the City of Seattle had to "DO" something.  So, what did they decide to "DO?"  Impose a new ordinance, i.e., "First in Time"
  • The First in Time ordinance alters the landlords' tenant selection process in the following manner:  Landlords are forced to rent to the first applicant that meets the landlords' advertised rental criteria.


The City of Seattle seems to be suffering with rental retardation


Just from the two bullet-points above, the premise of the "First in Time" is rental retardation.  Imposing rental "restrictions" on landlords doesn't SOLVE the housing issues. 

I have not read the ordinance.  But if the "first in time" tenant meets the advertised rental criteria, that's not fair to the landlord, on its face.

The "advertised" rental criteria might not have all the criteria . . . . . . . . . advertised.

Can you imagine selling a property based on the "advertised" criteria?  

Criteria to enter into a contract for a rental unit is never fully advertised.   An application to rent does not form a contractual obligation with the landlord, whether it's the first application received, or the tenth, and whether its approved or not.  

Landlords should not be forced to enter into contractual obligations.  PERIOD

Whether the application was the first to meet the advertised rental criteria . . . the landlord still might pass on it.  And if they do, and it's not a violation of Federal, state and/or local fair housing laws . . . they should not be forced to rent to the "First in Time."

The City of Seattle needs to lay off the caffeine and stop interfering in the business relationships of property owners.  

And I'd like to state, again, this type of imposition on the landlords does absolutely nothing to truly solve ANY of the housing issues Seattle, or other cities, face.

Is It Me?!?

The City Council has been quoted as stating their intentions:  The First in Time ordinance was enacted to curtail . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . "unfair housing practices by landlords."

Last time I checked, there are Federal, state and local unfair housing protections for tenants.  

While "unfair housing practices" may be a housing issue, it should NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH the housing shortage issues facing Seattle, and many areas, e.g., lack of rentals.  


The City Council of Seattle feels landlords may "unconsciously make biased decisions when choosing tenants."


So much for facts. "May" make?  

Unless the landlord is in a coma, I don't know how anyone could "unconsciously" make a decision, biased, or otherwise.  

DECISION:  a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration

If the decision to rent is made with "bias" then the Federal, state and local unfair housing protections are there, and have been there since 1976, for tenants' recourse.

No one can unconsciously make a decision.  The decision made could be wrong.  The decision made could be illegal.  The decision made could be consequential.  The decision made could be without conscious . . . 

But there is never going to be an "unconsciously made" decision.  

When there is a legal relationship established by law, i.e., landlord/tenant, it's the responsibility of the landlord to know what their duties are.  If the landlord doesn't know about the landlord/tenant laws, and they make a decision that is adverse, unfair, biased to a tenant or tenant applicant, that's not defined as "unconsciously" -- it's defined as them being dumb asses, and failing to know what they ought to!

Signs of Rental Retardation

Landlords have the right to rent to the second, fifth or 10th applicant.  Declaratory relief should be granted to the plaintiffs.

And shame on the City of Seattle for wasting everyones' time, money and resources on this . . . no brainer!


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Carla Muss-Jacobs has RETIRED effective May 1, 2018

Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
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Carla Muss-Jacobs' retirement became effective May 1, 2018

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