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VERIFY: Yes, rent control is illegal in Washington

In 2019, Oregon became the first in the nation to pass statewide rent control. They are the only state that has it.

WASHINGTON — During the pandemic, Governor Jay Inslee's eviction moratorium put a freeze on rent increase in Washington. 

The rent freeze expired at the end of June and a lot of viewers have since reached out to KREM 2 to say their rent is about to increase by hundreds of dollars. 

THE QUESTION

Does Washington have rent control?

THE SOURCES

WHAT WE FOUND

Rent control is illegal under Washington State Law and it’s been that way for 40 years.

The law states in part, “No city or town of any class may enact, maintain, or enforce ordinances or other provisions which regulate the amount of rent to be charged for single-family or multiple-unit residential rental structures."

In fact, only one state has rent control. In 2019, Oregon became the first in the nation to pass statewide rent control.

The bill limits rent increases to 7 percent each year in addition to inflation.

Why is rent increasing so much right now?

The President of the Landlords Association of the Inland Northwest Daniel Klemme listed several factors including: more people moving to area, a low supply of housing and landlords trying to recoup rent they didn’t get during the pandemic. 

"[During] the eviction moratorium, there was a significant amount of non-payment of rent. A lot of landlords, some of them have tenants that haven't paid that owe $15,000 to $20,000, so the only thing they can think to do to try to recapture some of that profit, or even just to break even, is to raise the rents on all their units," Klemme said.

As for what renters can do if they find themselves facing a steep increase in rent, Tram Tran-Larson, the Community Engagement Manager for the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project said there's not much to do.

"There’s not really any realistic options for the tenant options. What they can do is they can talk to their landlord and try to negotiate something, but you know that’s just up to the landlord whether or not they want to accept that,” Tran-Larson said.

THE ANSWER

We can verify that not only does rent control not exist in Washington – it’s illegal.

Have something you want verified? Email our VERIFY team at verify@krem.com