Success in Olympia Thanks to Member Involvement But More to Do

Posted By: Tim Hatley Advocacy, Government,

What a wild ride it was during the short legislative session in Olympia this year!
Thanks to the involvement of over 1,000 RHAWA members emailing their legislators, making phone calls, attending hearings, talking to their tenants, and wrangling their neighbors and friends, we were once again successful in defeating several anti-housing providers bills this session – most notably the continued and most menacing threat of Rent Control.

March 7, 2024, marked the final day of the 2024 Washington State Legislative session which began on January 9, 2024.  The 2024 session was a “short” 60-day compared to the 2023 session which was a “long” 120-day session and included the adoption of the state’s biannual budget among other major policy considerations.

RHAWA Government Affairs and Lobby team tracked nearly 100 bills posing negative impacts to small housing providers.  These bills included Senate Bill (SB) 6136 which would have added a new Business and Occupation tax on rental properties; SB 5770 seeking a 1% increase in property taxes; House Bill (HB) 2276 and SB 6191 proposing a new 1% Real Estate Transfer Tax; HB 2323 and SB 6212 requiring landlords to report on time rental payments; SB 6211 limiting mobile/manufactured homes rent increases; and SB 6064 placing caps on pet deposits.

But the most significant victory for RHAWA and small housing providers was the defeat of the Rent Control bill SB 5961 and HB 2114 which would have restricted rent increases to 7%, limit move in fees to one month’s rent, and cap late fees at 1.5% of monthly rent. 

Throughout the 2024 session, Rent Control was the most closely watched, most controversial and stirred some of the most comments to legislators than any other bill considered.

RHAWA members and our Rental Housing Coalition partners generated thousands of contacts to state legislators which was instrumental in defeating rent control and a dozen other bills we were tracking. Not one bill we opposed passed the 2024 Washington State Legislative Session.

A highly successful session indeed.

While housing providers can take a quick breath with this session's substantial victories, we now need to start planning for the 2025 session where we expect Rent Control to once again and a slew of new and reintroduced tenant protection bills.

With the end of the 2024 legislative session, the 2024 campaign season begins. Every statewide office is up for election including governor, attorney general, and secretary of state along with half the state senate and the entire house of representatives. When you include a US Senate seat on the ballot, each of the state’s nine congressional offices and a US Presidential race, it will likely result in one of the highest turnout elections in the past decade. Stay tuned for further details from RHAWA and make sure to donate to RHA PAC to help us in our efforts.

Tenant advocates and their friends in labor will be aggressively seeking commitments from candidates through the course of their campaigns for their support of Rent Control in the 2025 legislative session.

So, it is time for RHAWA to pivot our focus from the 2024 legislative session to the 2024 campaign cycle. The RHA PAC is already raising funds for future campaign contributions, developing questionnaires for candidates, and putting together a list of early endorsements for those who have shown continued support for our policies.

We are also in the process of putting together our 2025 legislative agenda which we will be presenting to candidates during our interview process and seeking their support and commitment.

Just as the involvement of the over 1,000 members who participated during this past legislative session proved to be effective in halting bad legislation that would hurt our members, we are going to need that same energy, focus and help during this upcoming campaign season.