Bellingham City Council approves 120-day notice requirement for residential rent increases

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Bellingham City Council passed an ordinance on Monday that will require landlords to provide 120 days’ notice before making any rent increases on residential units.

The change in notice requirements was made in response to community concerns about housing affordability, especially in the city’s “extremely tight” rental market, according to a news release from the city of Bellingham.

“Rents have been going up, which is hard enough on folks, but we’ve heard the greatest problem is with unexpected price hikes in a relatively short period of time,” said Bellingham council president Michael Lilliquist. “Families need time to adjust and manage costs, and that’s what this ordinance enables.”

The ordinance does not prevent landlords from increasing rents, as state law prohibits cities from regulating rent levels. There is also no limit on the number of times landlords may increase rents for their tenants in the city.

Similar bills have previously been passed in other cities, including Seattle, Burien, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kirkland, and Redmond.

A bill that would have required landlords to provide at least six months’ notice ahead of rent increases greater than 5% failed to pass the state House of Representatives last week.

Lilliquist says the city is also looking at measures passed in other cities as it works to reduce cost barriers for the estimated 56% of Bellingham residents who are renters.

The ordinance is set to take effect on Mar. 28.