State lawmakers failed to advance a proposal Tuesday requiring more notice of large rent increases.
The bill, HB 1904, would have required landlords to provide tenants six months’ notice of rent increases of 7.5% or more and, in certain cases, would have allowed a tenant to break their lease early after those increases. State law currently requires 60 days’ notice for all rent increases.
Backers said the bill was crucial as rents climb across Washington, particularly in once-affordable suburbs and smaller cities.
“Tenants across the state are being gouged with massive rent increases and the Legislature has turned their back on them,” Michele Thomas, policy director at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, said Tuesday. “Rent increases destabilize tenant households and increase homelessness. That is a fact that the Legislature will have to face sooner or later.”
Landlords opposed the bill, arguing that it’s difficult to predict that far in advance how much their operating costs will increase.
Under the proposal, tenants on fixed-term leases could have left their leases early after large rent increases, provided they gave 45 days’ notice. Jim Henderson, a lobbyist for the Rental Housing Association of Washington, which represents landlords, called that “a one-way contract.”
If the bill passes, “we will see other policy, other reasons why a tenant should be able to just leave the contract,” Henderson said earlier this month.
The bill had been scaled back some from its earliest form to increase the rent threshold from 3% to 7.5%. Tuesday was the final day in this year’s legislative session to pass bills out of the chamber where they originated, unless they are necessary to implement the state budget.