Housing is expected to be a signature issue in the Washington Legislature this year. Lawmakers aim to tackle housing costs from all angles, including construction, subsidized housing, homeless services, zoning and renter protections.

Here are some Crosscut stories on the legislative housing agenda:

How WA's legislature is addressing the housing crisis in 2023

Homeless services could face cuts in WA's 2023 legislative session

Q&A: Washington Governor Jay Inslee talks housing, guns, climate

Why you should pay attention to the 2023 Washington Legislature

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WA SB 5060 Registration of rental and vacant housing

Senate Bill 5060 seeks to require landlords to register rental and vacant properties in order to track the availability of “affordable housing inventory” across the state. Rental units would have to be registered with the state Department of Commerce every two years, with an initial registration fee of $70 per unit, plus a fee of $15 for each additional unit. The Department of Commerce would also have a website that hosts all the rental information in real time, as well as provide owners of four or more properties rental assistance programming resources. Additionally, the bill would establish a rule that landlords may not lawfully evict a tenant if they are not registered with the department. Exceptions to this registration would include individual rooms in an owner-occupied home, units in hotels, inns or similar lodgings, or units in schools, churches, hospitals or government-run properties.

Status: Did not make it out of the House. Appears to be dead.


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WA SB 5045 Incentives for renting to low-income households

Senate Bill 5045 aims to incentivize renting accessory dwelling units to low-income households by making the dwellings exempt from taxation for three years if they have been renovated or improved. The improvements must represent 30% or less of the original dwelling’s value, and the rent charged to a tenant must not exceed 30% of the tenant’s income. A part of the bill is the performance statement, directly stating that “It is the Legislature's specific public policy objective to encourage homeowners to rent accessory dwelling units to low-income households in order to increase the use of accessory dwelling units for low-income housing.”

Status: Passed the Senate on Feb. 27.Passed the House Committee on Housing on March 20. Passed the House Committee on Finance March 31. Passed the House on April 7.


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WA HB 1124 Rent increase protections

If approved, House Bill 1124 would prohibit a landlord from increasing rent by more than 5% without notifying tenants of the increase between 180 and 220 days before it happens. The notification would need to be specific about the tenant’s ability to terminate the tenancy without penalty. Tenants who are not notified of the increase would be able to recover damages. Additionally, a landlord would not be able to charge a penalty fee greater than $75 for late rent. 

Status: Didn't make it out of the House. Appears to be dead.


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WA SB 5027 Promoting housing affordability

Senate Bill 5027 aims to encourage development of housing for low income households by opening permit requests for American Dream Homes. These single family housing units are owner-owned and detached dwellings of 1,700 square feet or less. These requests could be made until Dec. 31, 2023, and if the American Dream Home is outside the urban growth area, the extension of public facilities and utilities may be authorized.

Status:  Didn't make it out of the Senate. Appears to be dead.


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WA SB 5506 Supportive homes for people with disabilities

Senate Bill 5506 seeks to set up a housing program for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults. This Enhanced Behavior Support Homes Program would prevent those with extreme disabilities from possible mistreatment in places like temporary housing, hospital boarding or jail. Each support home would require 24-hour supervision of residents with a bevy of resident rights and requirements, as well as “program standards, design requirements, staffing structure, staff qualifications, and training.”

Status: Didn't make it out of the Senate. Appears to be dead.


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WA HB 1245 Increasing housing options through lot splitting

House Bill 1245 is another measure that involves the Growth Management Act, aiming to split single residential lots of a certain size. As long as the original lot is not a product of a split and the planned lot split would not require any demolition of rented housing, and if the resulting lots are both at least 1,500 square feet and at least 40% of the original lot, the city cannot prohibit the split. The bill would also protect split lots from regulations regarding lot parking space, access, and construction.

Status: Passed out of the House on March 1. Didn't pass out of a Senate committee. Likely dead.


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WA HB 1110 Increasing affordable housing

House Bill 1110 seeks to implement a series of comprehensive land use plans, including capacity requirements, anti-displacement measures and technical assistance, all aimed at increasing affordable housing. Cities above a certain population threshold (i.e. Seattle) would be required to allow development of four or more units per every lot zoned for residential use. Six units would be allowed if two of the units are affordable housing or if the zone is within a half mile of a major transit stop, such as a rapid transit bus, rail station or ferry terminal. Those same cities would also be required to work to identify and undo policies that result in “racially disparate impacts, displacement, and exclusion in housing.” The bill would also add provisions for middle housing, defined as buildings comparable to single-family homes yet housing multiple families — including reduced zoning requirements. The Department of Commerce would required to assist cities across Washington as they implement these changes.

Status: Passed the House on March 6. Passed the Senate on April 11.


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