2024 Washington State Legislative Agenda

Posted By: Tim Hatley Advocacy, 2024 Legislative Session, Government, Law,

The RHAWA government affairs team has been working over the past several months listening to members, tracking local jurisdictions, talking to legislators, and monitoring the activities of tenant advocate organizations. Using this information, we have identified areas of key emphasis we are preparing for discussion and hopefully action in the short 2024 Washington State Legislative session.

The goal of the legislative agenda is to present a balanced and perhaps achievable set of objectives which we can focus our advocacy efforts both for short-term and long-term success. To balance our approach, we are seeking measures that would benefit both rental housing providers and tenants.

1. Tenant Assistance Program
Issue: There are times when tenants face acute financial hardship making it difficult for them to pay rent. To address this, we propose the establishment of the Tenant Assistance Program (TAP) aimed at providing gap funding for tenants facing challenges in meeting their rental obligations.

2. Tenant and Landlord Safety 
Issue: Housing provider's top priority is to maintain the safety of their tenants, staff, and themselves when managing their rental housing assets. Since COVID there has been a rise in violent criminal activity that threatens tenants and housing providers and leglislative changes have made it difficult to evict dangerous tenants. 

3. Eviction Reform
Issue: Now that the COVID eviction moratorium restrictions have been finally lifted, Washington State courts have seen a return to pre-COVID eviction rates which had been at historically low levels. However, recent changes to state law and a deliberate effort by tenant rights attorneys to stall the eviction process have essentially brought the court system to a standstill. To address this, we are seeking modifications to existing laws to ensure that the eviction system meets the established timelines for due process. 

4. Rental Housing Electronic Notification Modernization
Issue: One way to improve communications between the tenant and housing providers would be to recognize the predominant use of e-mail and text by society. Most routine rental matters can be best handled by a simple electronic communication that is more efficient for both the tenant and housing provider. To address this, we propose a greater allowance for the use of electronic communications for routine upcoming lease requirements.

5. Affordable Housing Tax Relief
Issue: Maintaining our existing affordable rental housing stock is one of the biggest challenges of the statewide housing crisis. The continued layering of new local rental restriction laws and increased property taxes makes it harder and harder for small rental housing providers to keep their rents low. These single-family rental housing units are an important part of the affordable housing needs. To address this, we propose the state allow a city or county to establish an affordable housing incentive program to provide property tax exemptions to single and multifamily residential properties affordable to very low-income families.