Bill to increase development of affordable condos passes legislature

OLYMPIA – A bill to encourage development of affordable condos passed its final hurdle on Friday, April 19, and is now heading to the Governor’s desk. Senate Bill 5334 will make changes to the condo warranty statute to provide a better balance between builders and buyers.

For close to a decade, the Puget Sound region has experienced a period of rapid growth. New housing has not kept up with the increasing population, which has led to an affordable housing crisis.

Democrats are working on a suite of solutions to help people afford housing that works for them, regardless of economic status.

“There is no single solution to ensuring everyone has a safe and stable home, but it is unacceptable that so many families are struggling to make rent or sleeping on the streets,” said Rep. Tana Senn, the sponsor of the House companion bill, HB 1306.

Condos have traditionally been an important part of the housing market, but most of the condos being built in the Seattle-King County area are high-end.  “Affordable condos provide an opportunity for first time homebuyers to start building equity and an option for seniors who are looking to downsize,” Senn continued. “This bill will encourage condo development while still maintaining consumer protections.”

A 2016 University of Washington study on condominium development in Washington found that resolving condo liability could increase the number of entry and mid-level condos being built. This would help provide some housing options, especially in cities, near jobs and services.

“Lowering barriers to building new condominiums will help to increase the supply of affordable housing in our state,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, prime sponsor of SB 5334. “I hope this legislation will coax builders and developers back into the market by protecting them against meritless claims while maintaining consumer protections for buyers of new condos.”

Senate Bill 5334 passed out of the House and Senate unanimously.