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New bill could make significant difference for Washington renters

As rent prices continue to climb, tenants across the state are feeling the crunch.

House Bill 2114 could put a limit of 7% on yearly rent hikes. Currently, the state of Washington does not have a limit on rent increases.

“I’m 66 years old and I have never in my life seen rent decrease and this bill can make a difference,” said Kenmore renter Boyd West during a public hearing in January.

He’s one of thousands of people throughout the state who’ve seen their rent dramatically increase in just a few years.

West testified in front of a House Committee to explain how tough his rental increases have been.

“This was our end game right here,” West told KIRO 7. “We thought we’d just stay here until we died and I don’t understand how that’ll be possible if the rent keeps going up like this.”

He and his wife’s dream of living at their Kenmore home is now being outweighed by the costs to keep it up.

West owns his mobile home but rents the ground beneath it. He said it’s gone up $405 a month since 2020. It comes out to a nearly 36% increase in just three years. That doesn’t include an extra $200 in fees for the property.

It’s come to a point where they may have to move out if nothing changes.

“Then we’ll have to move out of state because there’s nowhere around here where we can afford to live,” he said. “And we moved here just to be by the grandkids and that dream will end because there’s no other choice.”

With House Bill 2114, it could prevent major hikes like that from happening by capping rent increases to 7% after a one-year lease.

“Some cities, some counties have their own local ordinances or county codes that apply on this issue,” said landlord and tenant attorney Patrick Trivett.

The limit would depend on where you live. If your county or city’s rent cap is below the 7%, he said that would likely supersede the state and vice versa.

“If the jurisdiction said, you know, we’re capping it out at 8% and then the state came in and said 7%, obviously that 7% is gonna be what triumphs and trumps at that point in time,” he said.

There are exceptions to this cap limit - it wouldn’t apply to buildings that have been open for less than 10 years or affordable housing.

This bill would also make it so late fees for rent payments max out at 1.5% of the total rent.

House Bill 2114 is expected to be voted on by a House Committee on Tuesday afternoon.