Court strikes down Seattle rule targeting housing bias

SEATTLE (AP) — A King County Superior Court judge has struck down a Seattle law designed to limit housing discrimination.

The law, enacted in 2016, requires landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant for their property. The idea was to reduce the role that bias plays in who obtains housing.

But several property owners sued, calling the measure unconstitutional, and Judge Suzanne Parisien agreed in a ruling Wednesday. Parisien called the law “unduly oppressive” and said it infringes on their rights to dispose of their own property, as well as their free-speech right to negotiate with potential tenants.

Ethan Blevins, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation who represents the landlords, called it a “major victory for property rights.”

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office said it disagreed with the court’s ruling but was still determining its next steps.