And Shanna Smith, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said the policy means Seattle is taking a leadership role.
“We’ve been asking people to address this issue for years,” but landlords always push back, said Smith.
She added, “We know landlords skip people all the time, and often the people they skip are people of color, people with vouchers and families with children.”
Not everyone is happy about the policy, however. Don Taylor, who rents out a small building off Aurora Avenue North, said he doesn’t need policing.
“How do I do it? Part of it is just feel,” Taylor said, recalling an instance in which he chose one qualified applicant over another because her salary was lower and he guessed she’d be less likely to buy a home and move out.
“The longer you can keep a tenant, the better off you are,” the landlord said. “I don’t care whether you’re black, white or purple.”
Sean Martin, spokesman for the Rental Housing Association of Washington, says the group already advises landlords to operate on a first-come, first-served basis — to avoid discrimination claims. But he’s worried about unintended consequences.
He wonders whether the race-to-apply policy will give an advantage to people with cars, smartphones and free time over people who ride the bus and work three jobs.