On January 1, 2017, new “first-in-time” requirements for prospective tenant screening went into effect for properties located in the City of Seattle. Seattle Municipal Code Section 14.08.050 requires landlords to provide notice of their screening criteria and to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant. The screening criteria must be posted at the leasing office or in the building where the unit is located. In addition, the criteria must be posted on any website where the landlord advertises the property for rent.


A landlord can either list the required information in full on the website advertising the rental or use a hyperlink to another page with the required information. If a hyperlink is used, the hyperlink must be obvious, must be labeled to convey that it is a hyperlink and to what information it leads, and must take the reader directly to the information on the next page.  Enforcement of the first-in-time protections begins on July 1, 2017.


NWMLS Rule 10(i) prohibits members from advertising in listings, including inserting web addresses or URLs in the marketing remarks. The Rule prevents the listing firm from including links in the marketing remarks that would lead consumers away from other members’ IDX websites.Due to the City of Seattle “first-in-time” requirements, NWMLS will permit members to include web addresses or URLs in the marketing remarks for rental listings located within the City of Seattle. The web addresses or URLs in these listings may only direct consumers to a page that contains information to comply with the City of Seattle’s requirements and may not contain advertising.


For more information on the “first-in-time” ordinance, view the City of Seattle’s FAQ document (PDF).