Heather Pierce | Deputy Director of Government Affairs
Kyle Woodring | RHAWA Lobbyist
In the summer of 2016, Washington politicos spent their days obsessed with a special election State Senate race in the 44th legislative district. While it was clear that the outcome of the election in the 44th would set in motion a new organization of power in Washington state, the change in culture in Olympia could not have been anticipated. With Senator Manka Dhingra’s win in the 44th, the Democrats came into the supplemental budget year with a broad, aggressive agenda to regulate and reform carbon policies, labor, land use, criminal justice, and establish firm opposition to the activities of the federal government. Further, with Democratic control of both chambers, this new political environment made it possible for many small pieces of legislation to reach the Governor for signature--legislation that could not pass the legislature in the previous five years. Even with this broad agenda, Democrats put a remarkable amount of focus and emotion in the housing policy debate this year.
William Shadbolt I RHAWA Board President
Edited by Sean Flynn | RHAWA Board Past President
On Friday, February 23, Judge Suzanne Parisien heard oral argument in the First In Time case (Yim et al v. Seattle). The ordinance requires rental housing providers to rent to the first person who completes an application for tenancy and who qualifies under the owner's minimum screening criteria. The primary issue comes down to whether or not the city has the authority to regulate a rental provider's ability to choose a tenant based on who they deem the best fit, in compliance with all federal / state / local fair housing and protected class status rules.
Kyle Woodring | RHAWA Lobbyist
Today, Friday February 2nd is the official cutoff for most bills in the legislature. Any bill that does not have effect the state’s budget must be voted out of committee by today, or they are classified as “dead” and are no longer available to be voted on for the year. Both the house bill HB (2583) and the Senate bill (SB 6400) did not get voted out of their policy committees, and are now “dead” bills.
Call to Action!
Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee to hear Rent Control bill on Tues, Jan. 30 @ 8 am
On Tuesday, January 30 @ 8 am, the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee will hear SB 6400 which would end Washington's ban on rent control and allow cities to enact rent control. This comes on the heels of rent control receiving a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this past Tuesday. RHAWA had a strong showing of members at the January 23 hearing and we need to continue that momentum as we approach cutoffs for bills to receive votes.
We need landlords to attend this hearing and voice your strong opposition to the proposed bill. Carpools are being arranged for the trip down on our Connect member discussion forum. Click here to log-in and find a carpool down to Olympia.
Two ways to comment on this issue
Why does RHAWA oppose rent control?
Resources on rent control
On May 30, 2017, the Rental Housing Association of Washington filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s Move-in Fee Ordinance. We argue in the lawsuit that the ordinance is illegal under both state statutory and constitutional law.
Will you please join us today in supporting our efforts in court by making a contribution to the RHAWA Legal Defense Fund? Your contribution will help to directly fund our success in court and preserve our ability to take legal action in the future should the need arise.
As a member of RHAWA, we know that you care deeply about the security of your investment and your financial future. You’ve put too many thousands of hours of time and dollars in to managing your property to allow one city to dictate the financial terms of your leases, and force you into interest-free loans to your renters. You should be able to determine the amounts and types of safeguards to protect yourself against financial loss.
This lawsuit also represents more than just a fight against Seattle’s out of control rental housing policies. The rights of rental housing owners state-wide are at stake as we fight to ensure that Seattle’s unimaginative, illegal rules don’t spread to other jurisdictions.
Small independent landlords provide most of the affordable housing in Seattle. Unfortunately, instead of seeing RHA and its members as partners in solving housing issues, the illegal regulation of fees and deposits portrays rental property owners as nothing more than political scapegoats.
The move-in fees lawsuit filed by RHAWA joins a growing list of legal challenges which will shape the rental housing industry’s ability to provide safe, affordable housing for the next generation.
Last year we raised over $100,000 and I know that with your continued support I know that we can do even better in 2018. Expanding our budget will allow us continue fighting to achieve an outcome you deserve. The legal environment is changing and RHAWA can only fight for our members when we have the resources to do so.
You can track our progress at www.rhawa.org/legal-defense-fund.
Thank you for your ongoing support and the belief you’ve placed in RHAWA to protect the security of your rental investment interests, and our industry’s future.
Make your donation today by sending a check to: RHAWA LDF, 2414 SW Andover St, D207, Seattle, WA 98106 or by calling Geoff Schertz at 206-905-0606
Adam Purkey | Membership Engagement Manager
January 31st is one of the most important days of the year for RHAWA members, and one of the best opportunities for you to affect policies made that affect all landlords at the state level. RHAWA’s Legislative Day on the Hill is your best opportunity to voice your concerns directly to the officials that make these laws and enact meaningful policy changes. Independent landlords continue to battle against onerous laws on both the state and local level seemingly giving tenants every possible advantage when it comes to the landlord-tenant relationship. We need your stories, your experiences, and your ideas to present to the legislators to provide them with alternatives solutions as they consider new bills in 2018.
This day is so important for our members because we arrange meetings to give you time to sit down and discuss the issues that matter most with your representative in person. The voice of the tenants is a loud one, and we need to provide a strong, unified voice for property owners to ensure that your rights as landlords are not drowned out by the other side. Legislators hear from our lobbyists and our staff, but hearing firsthand accounts from actual landlords has a much greater impact. Those stories are the ones they will remember when it comes time to cast a vote that affects this industry. Your story could be the difference in how they choose to proceed.
Once you arrive at the Hotel RL in Olympia, we will make sure that you have everything you need during the day. You’ll start by having lunch and a briefing from RHAWA’s lobbyist Kyle Woodring which will get you up to speed on the prominent issues of the day even if you haven’t been closely following them. From there, we will shuttle you to the Capitol campus where you will have time to hear from an array of state representatives in the RHAWA room during the day. We also book individual appointments with your district representative so that you can speak with them directly about the things that matter most to you.
This chance to meet with your legislators in person is one that you should absolutely take advantage of to make your voice heard!
This event is underwritten by the RHAWA Political Action Committee and is absolutely free for RHAWA members. Leg. Day is your time to show up, speak up, and help enact the changes we as a community need to see made in order for landlords to succeed in the future. You can rely on us to get you everything you’ll need during the day, and we’ll rely on you to join us in Olympia on January 31st!
Full details can be found at https://www.rhawa.org/legday.html
Sean Martin | External Affairs
Stanford University researchers recently published a new study on the impacts and effects of San Francisco’s rent control policies and the results, well, they speak for themselves. RHAWA has long held that rent control is a failed policy, has far more unintended consequences which harm the housing market than there are good outcomes, and discourages the production of rental inventory to meet demand. On this, economists are near unanimously in agreement.
Before we share the how’s and why’s of rent control failures, let’s start with the summary in the direct words of the researchers.
“Taken together, we see rent controlled increased property investment, demolition and reconstruction of new buildings, conversion to owner occupied housing and a decline of the number of renters per building. All of these responses lead to a housing stock which caters to higher income individuals. Rent control has actually fueled the gentrification of San Francisco, the exact opposite of the policy’s intended goal.”
That’s quite the indictment of a policy long-favored by tenant advocates and politicians who expressly claim that rent control is the only way to ensure housing affordability and to prevent gentrification. In fact, it’s now been announced by Rep. Nicole Macri that legislation will be introduced in the 2018 session in an attempt to overturn the state ban on rent control.
Of the details included in the Stanford study, the more interesting points include:
Less rental housing supply costs tenants substantially
Owners of rent controlled properties substitute toward other types of real estate that are not regulated by rent control. In particular, rent-controlled buildings were almost 10 percent more likely to convert to a condo or a Tenancy in Common (TIC) than buildings in the control group, representing a substantial reduction in the supply of rental housing. Consistent with these findings, there is a 15 percent decline in the number of renters living in these buildings and a 25 percent reduction in the number of renters living in rent-controlled units, relative to 1994 levels.
These effects are counterbalanced by landlords reducing supply in response to the introduction of the law. We conclude that this led to a city-wide rent increase of 7% and caused $5 billion of welfare losses to all renters.
High-rent areas are much more likely to gentrify due to financial incentive for landlord to remove tenant.
Decreased social mobility and less housing opportunity for newcomers
“Rent control increased the probability a renter stayed at their address by close to 20 percent." The beneficiaries of rent control have no motivation to move, meaning less housing opportunities are made available to renters new to the market.
Decline in numbers of renters
here is an eventual decline of almost 30 percent in the number of renters living in rent-controlled apartments, a decline which is significantly larger than the overall decline in renters in the city. This is because a number of buildings which were subject to rent control status in 1994 were redeveloped in such way so as to no longer be subject to it. These redevelopment activities include tearing down the existing structure and putting up new single family, condominium, or multifamily housing or simply converting the existing structure to condos.
This study points to the simple fact that rent control is bad for the cities where it is in place and would simply be a disaster to Seattle. RHAWA will continue to work with law makers and local leaders to find solutions to the housing supply problems in Seattle that include the community and other stakeholders. Keeping the market open allows the Greater Seattle area to keep building and exploring free-market alternatives to dangerous regulations that simply do not work.
October 20, 2017
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025
Re: ADU/DADU legislation
Dear Councilmember O’Brien,
The Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA) represents more than 5,500 small, independent landlords. Our mission is to provide our membership with the tools and knowledge necessary to operate safe, affordable housing.
I’m writing you today regarding the Accessory Dwelling Unit EIS and changes being proposed to the rules for how ADU/DADU units may be sited, constructed, and operated.
Our region is in desperate need of action which can address the shortage of housing units we currently face. As the State’s largest city, Seattle can be a leader on how to address this problem. Expanding opportunities for ADU/DADU construction should be a part of the solution, and RHAWA strongly supports Alternative 2 as the best way to move forward on this issue.
Two particular details of Alternative 2 which we strongly support are a waiving of the owner-occupancy requirement, and for reducing the minimum lot size to 3,200 square feet.
Expanding ADU/DADU opportunities supports two critical goals for the city:
Additional to the policy being considered, we would also suggest consideration of additional changes which can expedite ADU/DADU construction and
We look forward to seeing this process move forward, and thank you for your consideration.
RHAWA External Affairs Director
Call to Action
Want to help encourage the city to allow these changes?
Sign this petition.
Cameron Cowan | Knowledge Steward
Tenant screening laws are rapidly evolving in Washington State, in particular when dealing with criminal records and how to consider an applicant’s ability to be a reliable tenant.
Most recently, a new law passed in Seattle and which takes effect February 19, 2018 – will prohibit almost entirely a landlord’s ability to refuse an applicant on the basis of criminal conviction and arrest records.