As Washington state lawmakers work to deal with the Housing Crisis in our state, several bills have surfaced concerning rent control measures, a first for Washington State. In recent years, cities have passed rent control measures, with the most recent in Tacoma, where voters narrowly passed rent-control measure that caps rent increases at 5%. But landlords can increase rents up to 7.5% IF they offer tenants relocation assistance dollars.
But the City of Tacoma says it can’t enforce these regulations because of conflicts with existing city regulations. Adding, the new initiative does not contain verbiage that would allow the city to enforce it, however, tenants and landlords can take action within the legal system.
Now, a study by EcoNorthwest, released by the Partnership for Affordable Housing (Rent Control Study PDF) show the evidence is clear that Rent-Control Policies are counter-productive, causing even higher rents than before. “Under rent control policies, rents are often higher than would be expected…” writes EcoNorthwest. Adding “…rent control implementation has failed to produce beneficial policy outcomes.” While well-intentioned, the effect decreases affordability and rental supply.
Instead, the study shows that building more housing units reduces demand, thus lowering rent increases.
Spokane County Housing Needs
The housing shortage in Spokane County remains one of the greatest in the state. EcoNorthwest estimates over 23,000 housing units are needed to eliminate the cost burden to owners and renters. Additionally, the study comes with a warning that says Spokane county would lose an additional 929 housing units should rent control go into effect.
Rent Control Bills Under Consideration for 2024
Here is a list of the rent control bills being tracked by Washington REALTORS® who opposes each of these measures over the potential long-term damages they can cause.
SHB 1388 Residential rent practices
Protecting tenants by prohibiting predatory residential rent practices and by applying the consumer protection act to the residential landlord-tenant act and the manufactured/mobile home landlord-tenant act.
Concerning residential rent increases under the residential landlord-tenant act and the manufactured/mobile home landlord-tenant act
Enabling local governments to plan and adopt programs to stabilize and control rents
SB 5060 Rental & vacant properties
Requiring the registration of rental and vacant housing units.
Concerning residential rent increases under the residential landlord-tenant act and the manufactured/mobile home landlord-tenant act.
Improving housing stability for tenants subject to the residential landlord-tenant act and the manufactured/mobile home landlord-tenant act by limiting rent and fee increases, requiring notice of rent and fee increases, limiting fees and deposits, establishing a landlord resource center and associated services, authorizing tenant lease termination, creating parity between lease types, and providing for attorney general enforcement.
This year’s 2024 legislative session is set to wrap up March 7th.