Bill to protect renters from sudden rent increases passes legislature

OLYMPIA – A bill to provide longer notices for rent increases and to prohibit most mid-lease rent increases passed out of the legislature on April 10, 2019. House Bill 1440, sponsored by Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, will give tenants more time to adjust their budget or make arrangements to move in response to a rent increase.

Current law requires only thirty days’ notice to increase rent. Most landlords require twenty days of notice when a tenant is moving out. This leaves tenants with only ten days to decide whether a rent increase is affordable or whether they need to move. In many apartments where the rent is tied to the median income in the county, landlords and rental management companies are putting provisions in the fine print of leases that the rent can increase even in the middle of a lease.

“Over the summer, I was contacted by a group of constituents who live at the Vintage Apartments in Marysville. Most of them are retired and living on fixed incomes. They live at the Vintage because it is affordable housing. They were shocked to find out at the end of April that their rent was going up again at the beginning of June,” said Robinson. “When they reached out to me, many of them were being forced out by the cost of rent.”

House Bill 1440 would increase the required notification period for a rent increase from thirty days to sixty days. The bill would also prohibit rental increases before the end of a lease unless both parties agree.

“Rental increases can effectively be evictions in many cases. This isn’t just something that is happening to seniors in Marysville, it is happening to people across our state who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Robinson. “Everyone deserves a safe, stable place to call home. This bill is one way that we can address the rising cost of housing and the crisis of homelessness that is impacting our region.”

The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.