It is quite clear that the Washington state Legislature is hellbent on rent control, with House Bill 1904 the latest example. Unfortunately, this bill will do absolutely nothing to alleviate the housing affordability crisis; instead, it will exacerbate the crisis. This is basic Economics 101. As we’ve all been told, economics is about supply and demand; let’s consider both.
The immediate effect of this bill, if it were to pass, on the supply side would be twofold. Firstly, landlords will exit the rental market, meaning less supply. Secondly, those who remain will have a higher cost of doing business, which they will pass on to renters as rent increases. Summarizing: less supply at higher rental rates.
On the demand side, we can rely on the excellent work of the University of Washington population dynamics lab. They are forecasting sizable population growth, which translates to growth in housing demand. What happens when demand grows and supply contracts? Prices rise!
The proponents of this bill are either ill-informed or intentionally ignoring basic reality. In either case, this is a horrible policy. It deserves immediate rejection by the Legislature.
Alex Whitworth, Seattle