Last week the Washington State Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling on the city’s “First in time” ordinance that requires landlords to accept the first qualified tenant who applies for a vacant rental unit.
Back in March, a King County Superior Court judge ruled against the City of Seattle, finding that the ordinance violated landlords’ property rights, due process guarantees, and protections on commercial free speech. The city appealed directly to the state Supreme Court, skipping the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court could have chosen to direct the case back to the appeals court, but instead decided to hear it directly.
The stakes are doubly high for the city, as another court filing today points out. Rent-bidding site Rentberry has a pending lawsuit against the city challenging its moratorium on sited such as theirs. In the ordinance itself and in its filed briefs, the city argues that its primary reason for the moratorium is to assess the likelihood that rent-bidding sites violate the “first in time” ordinance. So if the Supreme Court upholds the lower-court ruling, the city’s defense against Rentberry also falls apart.
Briefs have been filed in the Supreme Court, but oral argument has not yet been scheduled. Expect the court to hear the case in early 2019