housing action
Relief for renters clears important hurdle with WA House passage of measure to prevent excessive rent increases


Olympia, WA – An outpouring of support statewide from renters, small landlords, small businesses, service providers, faith leaders, labor leaders, union members, students and voters buoyed state lawmakers who voted tonight to approve HB 2114, a measure to stop rent gouging practices that are displacing hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians and increasing homelessness.

The average rent statewide has spiked $700 a month, $8,400 a year, in the past ten years. This is twice the rate of inflation, reaching about $1800 in 2023 according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research.

More than 3,000 Washingtonians signed into committee hearings in support of the measures at House and Senate hearings this session, and more than 700 registered to attend in person meetings in Olympia to ask their lawmakers to support rent stabilization policy. Thousands of people, from every district in the state, contacted their lawmakers in the last month, imploring them to support HB 2114, a measure to reign in rent hikes. More than 100 organizations endorsed the bill, including many community-based organizations working with communities of color, people with disabilities, and others who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

Michele Thomas, policy and advocacy director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance said: “Lawmakers have stated that providing relief to the 1 million plus renter households facing excessive rent increases was a top priority this session. Now they have put action to their words. This policy is aimed at preventing excessive rent increases that are destabilizing and displacing seniors who are being forced to choose between rent and medication. And this policy is an important step toward addressing worsening inequities in housing, where a disproportionate share of renters are Black, Indigenous and other People of Color. It is these communities and seniors who are disproportionately experiencing economic evictions caused by excessive rent increases and fees.”

Deb Wilson, manufactured home owner in the 19th legislative district urged members of the state Senate to get behind the legislation now: “The cost of dealing with the tsunami of elderly, disabled, and bedridden, homeless individuals will break the bank and destroy this state. You have a chance to save some lives, really, save lives.”

Monica Zazueta, a renter in Vancouver, urged state senators to support the measure when it comes up in the Senate: “Rent stabilization would give my family the security homeowners have. The fear that housing insecurity causes has a massive toll on my life and mental health and on my children's mental health. My children need stability and the ability to stay in their same school. When you keep people in their homes, they feel better and they do better. I'm a human being, not a dollar sign.”

As amended SHB 2114 will do the following:
● Protects manufactured homeowners and residential tenants.
● Allows landlords to raise rents in any given 12-month period by 7 percent.

On today’s average rent of $1,763 this is what a 7% rent increase means for a renter over three years:
First rent increase of 7% $123.41 increase, $1886.41/month
Second rent increase of 7% $132.05 increase, $2,018.46/month
Third rent increase of 7% $141.29 increase, $2159.75/month

By year three, the tenant is paying $396.75 more per month over the original rent.
● Fees count as rent for the purposes of the increase in order to prevent fees from being used to get around the rental cap.
● 6 months notice for all rent increases at 3% or more to provide tenants with more opportunity to plan for the increase.
● Caps all move-in fees to equivalent of one month’s rent or less in order to make moving more affordable.
● Prevents landlord from treating month-to-month leases differently than fixed-term leases in terms of rent levels and fees. This is because landlords are currently charging “month to month fees” or a much higher rent increase to compel a tenant to sign a fixed-term lease. Tenants who are month to month are covered under Washington’s just cause eviction protections, unlike tenants who are on a fixed-term lease.
● Creates a landlord resource center and a model lease for landlords.
● Creates enforcement with a private right of action, penalties and also by the State’s Attorney General’s Office.
● In cases where the landlord attempts to raise the rent above what is allowed under the bill (unless that landlord is exempt) allows a tenant to quit their lease and move without penalty.
● And two floor amendments added language to clarify that protection against excessive rent increases apply to short-term rentals and a study was also added.

● New buildings from certificate of occupancy through the first 10 years,
● Exemption from the rental rate increase limit for several living situations
where the owner is also a resident of the property in question,
● To prevent duplication on properties that are already subsidized and rent
regulated by their fund source and that are owned/operated by a nonprofit or public housing authority, they are exempted from the rent increase limitation, notice requirements and to the cap on deposits.

To speak with impacted tenants, landlords, small businesses, and housing policy experts, contact Kristin Hyde, (206) 491-0773.


Learn more: Read the latest Rent Stabilization Fact Sheet


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