It’s Time to Act on Rent Stabilization

Friends and neighbors,

Last year, we made a push for rent stabilization to protect tenants from drastic and unsustainable rent increases. I was disappointed that rent stabilization fell short. Since then, we’ve seen continued excessive rent increases and the outlook for statewide renter protections has reminded me why we must take action.

For those who have shared their housing struggles with me this summer, thank you for being vulnerable and candid in your experiences. I’ve heard from residents of manufactured home parks who are experiencing housing instability because of ballooning rents and the sale of their parks. Outside of our community, an investigation has revealed a growing threat of displacement as investors purchase and centralize these communities.

Some of our neighbors even shared 50% rent increases, and situations where landlords fail to meet basic maintenance obligations. Ultimately, this makes one of the most affordable forms of housing less and less accessible and can force individuals into homelessness.

If you have a housing struggle you’d like to share, please do so here. Your experiences are what help us remind other legislators why it’s so important to act on rent stabilization.

Market Manipulation

I was recently in a meeting with some independent rental property owners. We discussed the escalating cost of renting in Washington. They, like me, were astounded at the exorbitant rent increases that some folks are experiencing. While some landlords engage in price gouging behavior and fail to provide stable and affordable housing, many other rental unit owners were trying to do right by their tenants by keeping rental increases modest for existing tenants. Like their tenants, they were being harmed by the very same rental companies that have directly contributed to this crisis. It’s hard for a small property owner to compete when large companies are jacking up prices.

We now have a clearer understanding of how these companies manipulated the market and caused our rental crisis. Recently, ProPublica published an article detailing how a company called Realpage, created a tool to help landlords set prices. The key take away is that this tool allegedly inflated prices artificially and even encouraged landlords to let units go vacant to escalate the market.

We know that for every $100 rent increases, homelessness rates go up by 9% in an area. The US Census estimates that over the last six months, there have been half a million Washingtonians displaced because of rental rate increases. Renters are hurting and so are small rental property owners. That is why we need to move on rent stabilization now and bring some balance to the housing market.

Let’s Get It Done

Next legislative session, I plan to continue to pursue a policy with an effect similar to House Bill 1389 to stabilize rent increases. With our coalition, I’m hopeful that we can get this passed. It will take a big effort to get this done and I’m grateful to have supporters like my bill co-sponsors, standing shoulder to shoulder with us.

We must address this problem. Fortunately, we know what the solution is. We need rent stabilization.

In service,

Rep. Alex Ramel

WA State Representative | 40th Legislative District
House Majority Whip
Pronouns: he/him/his