First in Time
Seattle’s “First in Time” ordinance first went into effect in 2017 and was overturned by the King County Superior Court the following year. On November 14, 2019 the State Supreme Court ruled that First in Time is legal and it will be reinstated.
14.08.050 - First-in-time
A. Effective January 1, 2017, it is an unfair practice for a person to fail to:
1. provide notice to a prospective occupant, in writing or by posting in the office of the person leasing the unit or in the building where the unit is physically located and, if existing, on the website advertising rental of the unit, in addition to and at the same time as providing the information required by RCW 59.18.257(1), of:
a. the criteria the owner will use to screen prospective occupants and the minimum threshold for each criterion that the potential occupant must meet to move forward in the application process; including any different or additional criteria that will be used if the owner chooses to conduct an individualized assessment related to criminal records.
b. all information, documentation, and other submissions necessary for the owner to conduct screening using the criteria stated in the notice required in subsection 14.08.050.A.1.a. A rental application is considered complete when it includes all the information, documentation, and other submissions stated in the notice required in this subsection 14.08.050.A.1.b. Lack of a material omission in the application by a prospective occupant will not render the application incomplete.
c. information explaining how to request additional time to complete an application to either ensure meaningful access to the application or a reasonable accommodation and how fulfilling the request impacts the application receipt date, pursuant to subsection 14.08.050.B and C.
d. the applicability to the available unit of the exceptions stated in subsections 14.08.050.A.4.a and b.
2. note the date and time of when the owner receives a completed rental application, whether submitted through the mail, electronically, or in person.
3. screen completed rental applications in chronological order as required in subsection 14.08.050.A.2 to determine whether a prospective occupant meets all the screening criteria that are necessary for approval of the application. If, after conducting the screening, the owner needs more information than was stated in the notice required in subsection 14.08.050.A.1.b to determine whether to approve the application or takes an adverse action as described in RCW 59.18.257(1)(c) or decides to conduct an individualized assessment, the application shall not be rendered incomplete. The owner shall notify the prospective occupant in writing, by phone, or in person of what additional information is needed, and the specified period of time (at least 72 hours) that the prospective occupant has to provide the additional information. The owner's failure to provide the notice required in this subsection 14.08.050.A.3 does not affect the prospective occupant's right to 72 hours to provide additional information. If the additional information is provided within the specified period of time, the original submission date of the completed application for purposes of determining the chronological order of receipt will not be affected. If the information is not provided by the end of the specified period of time, the owner may consider the application incomplete or reject the application.
4. offer tenancy of the available unit to the first prospective occupant meeting all the screening criteria necessary for approval of the application. If the first approved prospective occupant does not accept the offer of tenancy for the available unit within 48 hours of when the offer is made, the owner shall review the next completed rental application in chronological order until a prospective occupant accepts the owner's offer of tenancy. This subsection 14.08.050.A.4 does not apply when the owner:
a. is legally obligated to set aside the available unit to serve specific vulnerable populations;
b. voluntarily agrees to set aside the available unit to serve specific vulnerable populations, including but not limited to homeless persons, survivors of domestic violence, persons with low income, and persons referred to the owner by non-profit organizations or social service agencies.
B. If a prospective occupant requires additional time to submit a complete rental application because of the need to ensure meaningful access to the application or for a reasonable accommodation, the prospective occupant must make a request to the owner. The owner shall document the date and time of the request and it will serve as the date and time of receipt for purposes of determining the chronological order of receipt pursuant to subsection 14.08.050.A.2. The owner shall not unreasonably deny a request for additional time. If the request for additional time is denied, the date and time of receipt of the complete application shall serve as the date and time of receipt pursuant to subsection 14.08.050.A.2. This subsection 14.08.050.B does not diminish or otherwise affect any duty of an owner under local, state, or federal law to grant a reasonable accommodation to an individual with a disability.
C. To maintain the prospective occupant's chronological position noted at the time of notice, the owner may require that the prospective occupant provide reasonable documentation of the need for additional time to ensure meaningful access along with the completed application. The owner must notify the prospective occupant at the time the owner grants any request for additional time if the owner will require submission of reasonable documentation. If such notice is given and reasonable documentation is not provided with the completed application, the owner may change the date and time of receipt from when the request was made to the date and time the complete application is submitted. This subsection 14.08.050.C applies only to requests for additional time based on the need to ensure meaningful access to the application. It does not apply to requests for reasonable accommodation.
D. First-in-time evaluation
The Department shall ask the City Auditor to conduct an evaluation of the impact of the program described in subsections 14.08.050.A-C to determine if the program should be maintained, amended, or repealed. The evaluation shall only be conducted on the basis of the program's impacts after 18 months of implementation. The evaluation should include an analysis of the impact on discrimination based on a protected class and impact on the ability of low-income persons and persons with limited English proficiency to obtain housing. The City Auditor, at their discretion, may retain an independent, outside party to conduct the evaluation. The evaluation shall be submitted to the City Council by the end of 2018.
E. Persons must comply with this Section 14.08.050 by July 1, 2017.
F. Nothing in this Section 14.08.050 shall apply to an accessory dwelling unit or detached accessory dwelling unit wherein the owner or person entitled to possession thereof maintains a permanent residence, home or abode on the same lot.
RBI Property Management Criteria
- Credit Score greater than 700 for all residents.
- Net income (after expenses) must be greater than 2 times the rent rate.
- Government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, ID card, etc.) required of all applicants over 18 years old.
- Proof of employment (last pay period check stub) or offer letter.
- Complete application in it’s entirety.
- Must view the property prior to applying.
- RBI Property Management will not accept a comprehensive reusable tenant screening report, obtained by applicant
- All applicants 18 or over must complete an application in full regardless of status in the family.
- No evictions or unlawful detainers within past five years.