Property Management Blog

First-in-Time

System - Monday, December 2, 2019

On November 14, 2019, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld tenant screening requirements known as ‘First-in-Time’ for properties located within the City of Seattle. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is responsible for administering and enforcing the First-in-Time requirement, which requires landlords to provide notice of their screening criteria to applicants and to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant who provides a completed application. This law is currently in effect.  

  1. This law requires landlords to provide notice of their screening criteria to prospective tenants, and to include certain kinds of information in online advertisements, including:
    1. Criteria used to screen tenants and the minimum standard a person will need to meet to move forward
    2. All information, documentation, or submissions necessary for the landlord to determine if the tenant meets those criteria
    3. Written notice about how to request additional time to complete the application if additional time is needed to ensure meaningful access or for a reasonable accommodation for a disability
    4. If the landlord is legally required to or voluntarily setting aside the unit for vulnerable populations
       
  2. The law requires that landlords offer tenancy to the first applicant who completes an application and meets the stated criteria. Landlords must:
    1. Note the date and time of when a completed application is submitted
    2. Screen completed rental applications in chronological order
    3. Offer tenancy to the first person who meets the screening criteria
    4. Provide 48 hours to the tenant to accept
    5. If the first applicant does not accept within 48 hours, the landlord can move to the next tenant who completed an application.