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.
Ethan Blevins | Attorney | Pacific Legal Foundation
If government can strip you of choice just because unconscious bias might influence that choice, its power would have no bounds. But that is precisely what Seattle is doing to its landlords. In Yim v. City of Seattle, Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging an anti-discrimination law that prohibits landlords from choosing their own tenants. Today, we filed our opening brief to ask the Court to invalidate this oppressive and brazen violation of fundamental rights.
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.
Having a tenancy end badly is something no one wants to have in their rental business. However, it is a reality in the life of a rental property owner. The State of Washington recognizes this and in 2016, the legislature enacted a new law and provided funding for landlords to get compensation when a housing voucher tenant has damaged their property. This is a program that RHAWA helped get through the legislature and we are still helping landlords use the program to mitigate their losses.