On Monday, August 8, Seattle City Council adopted new legislation which forces rental housing owners in Seattle to process applications beginning with the first peson in line (submits a complete application w/supporting info, and pays a screening fee). Called "first in time," the legislation essentially mandates a "first come, first served" policy. While this is the recommended practice for conducting tenant screening, it omits several key variables in the screening process, such as being able to interview an applicant, as well as having discretion to rent to a lesser qualified individual who is second in line to give that individual a new housing opportunity.
Setting aside the normal fair housing rules related to protected classes, there has always been a component during the screening process which allowed owners to "interview" an applicant as a part of their process to determine if that person was a good match. This process is no different than a job hiring process where candidates are interviewed based upon their qualifications, and an offer is then made to the person who both meets the minimum qualification requirements, but who also is the best fit at the company.