Should Texas landlords rent on a first-come, first-served basis?

People all across Texas rent commercial or residential space from a landlord. Renting gives tenants more freedom to move and it allows them to occupy space they can’t afford to buy; it also puts many obligations and responsibilities on landlords.

This is not to say the landlord-tenant relationship is without flaws. For instance, as a tenant, you might be concerned that your rental application will be or has been denied unfairly because of a discriminatory landlord. This is a very real problem for people in Texas and all across the U.S., and one city has put in place a controversial solution to address it.

According to news reports, Seattle is now requiring landlords to select tenants based on a first-come, first-served model. Instead of allowing landlords to choose whomever they want to rent property, the policy orders them to review applications in the order received, and then offer the property to qualified applicants in the same order.

Supporters of this model say that it prohibits landlords from discriminating against people based on race, gender, or reliance on alternative sources of income. Too many people are treated unfairly and denied housing because of certain characteristics that have nothing to do with their rental capabilities.

On the other hand, critics argue that this policy is heavy-handed and unnecessary. Further, a lawsuit that was recently filed maintains that the policy violates a landlord’s right to select a tenant of their choosing in a nondiscriminatory manner.

While there is not a similar policy in place here in Texas, there are laws that prohibit discrimination against protected classes trying to rent a home or apartment. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to be aware of this and other legal protections in place.

What do you think? Are discrimination laws sufficient in protecting rental applicants from discrimination in this state, or is there some benefit to the first-come, first-served model? Would a policy like this increase or decrease the likelihood of a landlord-tenant dispute?

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