Feb 26, 2024 - Politics

Rent hike cap looks dead in Washington Legislature

Illustration of a key suspended in mid-air by pieces of taught red tape.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A plan to limit annual rent increases to 7% at many properties appears dead in the Washington State Legislature.

Why it matters: Supporters of the "rent stabilization" measure said it was needed to prevent excessive rent hikes that can force people out of their homes.

The latest: The bill didn't receive a vote in the state Senate Ways & Means Committee before a key deadline for bills to advance on Monday.

What they're saying: "There was no Republican support and not enough Democratic support to get the bill out of committee," the committee chair, state Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), said in a written statement.

  • "I'm proud of the work we have done to make housing more affordable across Washington, but we fell short in this instance and will continue to work on the issue next year."

The other side: State Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle) said in a news release that people across Washington are "struggling to keep up with rent after receiving 5, 10, 15, even 25 percent increases year upon year" — but that the Senate had "ignored the problem."

Friction point: Some opponents argued the proposal would worsen the state's housing shortage by pushing landlords to take units off the market or by discouraging housing construction.

Catch up quick: The 7% cap on yearly rent increases wouldn't have applied to new buildings that have opened within 10 years.

  • Public and affordable housing developments were exempt, as were some owner-occupied properties, such as duplexes where the owner lives in one half of the building.
  • The measure cleared the state House on a 54-43 vote earlier this month.

What we're watching: Backers of the rent cap measure are now urging state Senate leaders to bring the proposal to the Senate floor for a vote, bypassing the usual committee process — something that's unlikely, but not unprecedented.

  • The Legislature remains in session through March 7.
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