Washington Legislature Recap

The 2022 legislative session saw the introduction of several housing related bills that would have opened the door to more housing supply and opportunity. Unfortunately, nearly all of them did not pass.

REALTOR Specific Bills

Banning the Use of “Love Letter” HB 2059DEAD did not pass in the Senate – Removes the language banning “Love Letters” but leaves in language that requires all parties in a transaction to be truthful. This reverses a judge’s decision that ruled REALTORS(R) only need to be honest with their client. Washington REALTORS® backed bill this bill, which if passed, would send the “love letter” language to the Housing Disparities Work group for further discussion.

Concerning seller disclosure statements HB 1951DEAD Following a Statewide REALTOR® Call-to-Action that generated over 4,000 emails, a scaled back version has been advanced out of committee, that eventually was not approved. This measure would have removed the don’t know box, but would not remove the actual knowledge standard. Instead, it would have added the following question to Form 17 “Is there any damage to the property from animals, including urine, feces, or other waste; chewing on wires or siding of a main structure; or digging”.

Housing Bills We Supported that Passed

Promote housing construction by limiting appeals under GMA and SEPA policies SB 5818 Gives new legal authority for cities that follow the Housing Action Plan offering full legal exemption from both GMA and SEPA review. SIGNED INTO LAW

Expanding GMA Boundaries based on existing expansion SB 5593 – Sponsored by Sen. Shelly Short, this bill amends the current standards for jurisdictions to revise a designated urban growth area (UGA) or areas to include revisions based on existing patterns of development. SIGNED INTO LAW

Condo Conversion Process SB 5758 –  Essentially, adds a conversion program from renters to owners by the Housing Finance Commission, along with establishing an affordable housing advisory board. SIGNED INTO LAW

Duration of state upland leases HB 1430 Extends state leases to 99 years. This would allow for more construction related to housing. SIGNED INTO LAW

Concerning community municipal corporations HB 1769  – Community Councils: Terminates certain community municipal corporations (“community councils”) that were originally created for the purpose of providing community input on municipal annexation and early GMA implementation.

Concerning the effective date of certain actions taken under the growth management actSB 5042 – GMA Vesting: Delays vesting of land use permit applications relating
to expansion of an UGA or other actions to 60 days after publication of notice of the action, or
if an appeal if filed with the Growth Board, the date on which the Board’s final order is issued. SIGNED INTO LAW

Concerning tribal participation in planning under the growth management act HB 1717 – Tribal Consultation in GMA Planning: Creates process for cities and counties to enter into agreements with federally-recognized tribes regarding tribal consultation over GMA planning. SIGNED INTO LAW

Changing the total amount of outstanding indebtedness of the Washington state housing finance commission HB 1738 – Housing Finance Commission Debt: Increases the Housing Finance
Commission’s debt limit from $8 billion to $14 billion. SIGNED INTO LAW

Planning under the growth management act HB 1241 – GMA Planning Timelines: Changes GMA planning cycle 8 years to 10 years, and adds a mid-point 5 year progress report; extends the deadline for the 2024 update cycle (King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish) by 6 months. SIGNED INTO LAW

Enhancing opportunity in limited areas of more intense rural development SB 5275  – Local Areas of More Intense Rural Development Areas: Allows development within a LAMIRD if providers of utilities confirm that there is sufficient capacity to serve new or increased demand. Commercial development must be primarily designed to serve the needs to rural populations. SIGNED INTO LAW

Concerning rent payments made by residential tenants SB 5749 Would require that landlords accept non-electronic forms of rental payments in addition to electronic forms. This would lower barriers for seniors, Washingtonians with limited English proficiency, people with limited access to debit or credit cards, and families who struggle to access the internet. Requiring that landlords accept non-electronic forms of payment would alleviate a common challenge for many renters, better ensure that landlords receive rent payments on time, and reduce barriers as the state focuses on transitioning community members out of homelessness. SIGNED INTO LAW

Housing Bills we Opposed that Passed

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Buildings SB 5722 (oppose) This originally contained rent control provisions. It changes energy updates for commercial buildings. Adds economic impact statement. SIGNED INTO LAW

Concerning the effective date of certain actions taken under the growth management act. SB 5042  – This bill makes it more difficult for counties to expand GMA boundaries. SIGNED INTO LAW

Bills that Did Not Pass

Increasing housing supply through the growth management act and housing density tax incentives for local governments HB 1157/SB 5390 – Density Incentive Zones: Provided a portion of the state REET for cities that create zones with increased housing density, with limitations on
how state REET funds can be spent.

Strengthening Energy Codes HB 1770  – Required State Building Code Council (SBCC) to adopt a
residential reach code for optional adoption by any city that achieves a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption; required state building code to ensure new buildings are net carbon zero ready.

Improving the States climate response added to the GMA – HB 1099This adds new climate change language to the GMA. Created Greenhouse Gas and Vehicle Miles Travelled Reduction Sub-Element for GMA Comp Plans in certain counties and cities, and Climate Change preparation/resiliency Sub-Element for all GMA planning jurisdictions.

Urban ADU’s HB 1660 Adds new options and limits city control. Changes parking standards and owner occupied requirements. Established minimum allowed Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations within urban growth areas and prevented local governments from adopting development regulations to limit or condition ADUs.

Limited sales and use tax incentive program for redevelopment of vacant lands in urban areas –  SB 5755Would stimulate the redevelopment of vacant or underdeveloped property in certain urban areas through a limited sales-and-use-tax deferral program. The tax deferral would help the owners of vacant or undeveloped properties build affordable housing. This program would enable cities to more fully realize their planning goals under the Growth Management Act and provide a benefit to the construction industry.

Concerning local government planning HB 1981 While the bill is designed to allow missing middle housing – it requires a local extended review including adequacy of schools and infrastructure, tree canopy levels. This bill also changes annual property tax increase to 3% (from 1%) and 2% REET tax increases. We oppose because it charges taxes and doesn’t build anything for several years.

Energy Code Updates HB 1770 – Residential code changes – offers new guidance. Includes a goal of a 70% reduction of energy. Moves from energy reduction to greenhouse gas reduction. WR believes our state already has one of the most restrictive building code standards in the country, and that we should oppose because this essentially divorces away from the concept of a critical housing need. Also requires all new construction to be Zero Option Ready (Solar ready).

Requiring Missing Middle Housing SB 5670/HB 1782Disappointing that Middle Housing, introduced by Gov Inslee to greatly expand multi-family housing in many single housing zones, are both dead. Cities were concerned about the loss of local control over zoning. Would have allowed different Middle Housing types within a ¼ or ½ mile of major transit in certain cities; lesser amounts of Middle Housing in other areas of certain cities.

Housing Supply Tax Incentives for Local Governments – HB 1157  Increasing housing supply through the growth management act and housing density tax incentives for local governments. This bill has passed the house (again) and is headed to the Senate. These bills enable local governments to receive a portion of the State real estate excise tax (REET) for new housing units built within areas of increased density.

Rent Caps and Notice HB 1904 – This bill is designed to protecting tenants from excessive rent and related fees by providing at least six months’ notice for rent increases over a certain amount, allowing tenants the right to terminate a tenancy, and limiting late fees. Requires 180 to 220 day notice for any rent increase over 7.5% (new). This continues to burden landlords with rental costs during this pandemic. This bill is on the House floor for a vote.

Rent Caps HB 1904 Protecting tenants from excessive rent and related fees by providing at least six months’ notice for rent.

Rental Property Registration SB 5825  Establishing a rental and vacant property registration program work group. Passed the Senate and is now in the House.

Concerning the creation of affordable and sustainable housing in the state HB 2020 Requires affordable housing units as part of the GMA. Provides options for sustainability. Preferred permit pathways for low income. Sets up Sustainable/Equitable/Affordable boards. Offers money for cities. Appears to be stalled in the Appropriations committee.

Urban ADU’s HB 1337/HB 1711   -Adds new options and limits city control.

Accessory Dwelling Units in Rural Areas – HB 1298/SB 5221  Concerning regulation of accessory dwelling units located outside of urban growth areas. Both bills are considered dead this session.

Carbon Emission Reduction in Commercial Buildings HB 1774  We originally opposed this bill. But may change to support with the amendments that removes rent control requirements and changes building energy efficiency for commercial/industrial buildings over 20,000 square feet. Still hoping to remove language limiting use or expansion of natural gas in certain buildings.

Riparian Habitat/Salmon Protections HB 1838/SB 5727  Establishes damage zones. We believe it adds too much land to the measure. Both bills have stalled in committee.

Reach Codes HB 1117 –  The concern is that the standards are vague and would be left to the Dept. Of Fish and Wildlife to set requirements. Created “Net Ecological Gain” standard for
GMA Comprehensive Plans and all public projects, and integrated salmon recovery and fish
barrier removal plans with local GMA plans.

DNR Land Leases SB 5853  – Allows DNR land to be used for low income housing. Sponsored by Spokane Senator Andy Billig – this would allow for up to 99-year leases for housing opportunities.

Rent Control SB 5139 –  The bill as introduced in the 2021 session prevents rent increases for 6 months after the end of the Governor’s emergency eviction ban and then limits rent increases to 3% for three months thereafter. Appears to be stuck in committee.

Eviction language update SB 5576 Addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing technical changes to eviction notice and summons forms and modifying certain eviction processes and programs. Extends the deadline of 14-day plan for repayment, adds judicial discretion for those with three or more notices and extends most rental moratoriums. Additionally, removes three strikes provision from the just cause bill from last year. Appears to be stalled in committee.

WA Futures Fund HB 1861/SB 5752  –  Any baby born under Apple Care gets money set aside for when the kid turns 18 – can use $$’s for higher ed, small viz or down payment for home – $25k per kid