SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane has the highest rent increases in the state of Washington and is in the top three for highest rent spikes nationwide. The Ball family in Spokane Valley is just one of many families struggling to keep up with the growing rental rates.
The Balls moved to their house in Spokane Valley in March 2020 from Kentucky. They moved to Spokane thinking it would be an affordable option.
That quickly changed.
Chris Ball remembers getting a phone call from his landlord in May. He learned his rent was increasing by $680. That increase was just one year after their rent had already gone up $150.
"I told him I needed to call him back. I needed to breathe and figure out our next move," Ball said.
From March 2020 to March 2022, the Ball's rent increased 49 percent. They are now paying $2,520 every month. When they looked for other options, they came up short.
"We looked, but everyone was trying to rent for the same amount of money," Ball said.
Terri Anderson with the Washington State's Tenant's Union said this is a problem families across the region are facing. Anderson said a majority of the phone calls the tenant's union hotline receives is to complain about rent increases in the Spokane area.
In the four years before the pandemic Spokane's rental rates increased by 45% according to the Washington State's Tenant's Union. Then after pandemic restrictions eased Spokane had the highest rent increases in the country.
That made it hard for families like the Ball family to make ends meet. Ball's wife had to start a new job so the family could afford the extra rent. Now, Ball wants rent increase regulations in place to prevent this from happening again.
"It just seems that there should be some protections for the people that are living in the homes," Ball said.
The Washington State Tenant's Union is also fighting for rent increase caps, along with extensions for the notice a landlord is required to give a tenant before increasing rents.