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Some Spokane residents are facing drastic rent increases. Here's what they can do

Dramatic rent increases are affecting tenants across the Inland Northwest. The Washington State Tenants Union is organizing renters to ask for protections.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Hundreds of people living at the Lusitano Apartment Complex in Spokane received notice of rent increases, including Denise Doyle and her husband. The retired couple has made their two-bedroom apartment home over the past three years, hanging pictures of family on almost every wall.

"We have a simple life and its good. Its good here," Doyle said.

In 2019, rent for their home went up $50. They accepted that increase as reasonable. Then in 2021, the Lusitano Apartment Complex notified the Doyle's of a $365-dollar increase starting Sept. 1. That is a 37% increase. The couple said they were shocked.

"Absolute shock. What are we going to do? How are we going to make this happen," Doyle said.

Since the initial increase notice, Doyle's landlord offered a lower increase rate. If the couple signs a one-year lease, their rent will increase by $150 instead. That's still a 17% increase.

Many people in the Spokane area can relate to the Doyle's situation, which is why the Tenants Union of Washington State is organizing renters to ask lawmakers for protections. Washington state does not have a limit on how much a landlord can raise rents. The city cannot put a cap on rent increases because only the state has the power to do that.

The Tenants Union is instead asking renters to ask lawmakers to pass two protections. First, to require landlords to provide relocation funds to tenants forced out by high prices. Second, to extend the rent increase notice from 60 to 90 days so renters have time to find alternate housing.

Terri Anderson with the Tenants Union suggested anyone in this situation call local lawmakers to ask for those protections. In the meantime, Anderson is organizing meetings for renters to learn more.

"I believe we can get city hall to do something before September 1," Anderson said.