Housing

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

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

Why you should pay attention to the 2023 Washington Legislature

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: Bill is moving forward, introduced in the Senate Jan. 9

 

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: Bill is moving forward, introduced in the Senate Jan. 9.

 

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: Bill is moving forward, introduced in the House Jan. 9

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:  Bill is moving forward, introduced in the Senate Jan. 9

Get the latest in election news

In the weeks leading up to each election, this newsletter gives context on the races, candidates and more. 

By subscribing, you agree to receive occasional membership emails from Crosscut/Cascade Public Media.