In a new attempt to limit discrimination in Seattle's tight renter's market, the city has implemented a first-come, first-served rental law requiring landlords to rent out vacant units to the first qualified applicant they receive.
Proponents of the law say they already work under this basis, while opponents believe they should reserve a right as business owners to choose with whom they sign a contract. Councilmembers believe the law will adequately cut out any conscious or unconscious biases landlords may have when selecting tenants.
The law will go into effect January 1st, and lawmakers will spend the next few months discussing how to regulate the law into practice. So far, the legislation will require landlords to provide prospective renters their minimum screening requirements before application . Upon receiving the application, landlords must date and time them and process the applications in they order in which they were received. The Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) will reserve the ability to investigate whether applicants were processed and granted residence in the rightful order.
Daniel Beekman, a reporter for the Seattle Times, brings up the question of enforcement on the law, which has yet to be discussed. Beekman quotes Seattle landlord Don Taylor as suggesting he will find ways to get around the law such as fudging dates and times of the applications so he can continue to use his own judgement to accept tenants.
The SOCR will be hiring two officials to help execute and enfore the law to prevent such mishandling.