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State lawmakers pass bill preventing mid-lease rent hikes

(AP)

A new bill passed by the Washington State Legislature bans mid-lease rent hikes, and requires 60-day notice for any increases between leases.

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The bill makes an exception for mid-lease rent hikes if both parties consent, and was originally proposed after Rep. June Robinson heard from a group of seniors living in affordable housing in Marysville.

“They are … getting rent increases in the middle of their lease, a couple hundred dollars each per month. The residents that I met with are absolutely frantic,” said Robinson.

The current law requires just 30 days’ notice for rent increases; most landlords require 20 days notice for tenants moving out of an apartment.

Robinson also cited a fine print requirement in many leases for low income residents that specifically leaves the door open for frequent mid-lease rent increases.

“Somewhere in the middle of all of that is this clause that says if you live in a low income housing tax credit property, the landlord is able to increase your rent when the area media income increases,” she said.

The hope is to give those in delicate financial situations more leeway in adjusting budgets and making arrangements in response to rising rent prices. More than that, there are concerns that frequent rent increases are pushing affordable housing residents out of their homes.

“Rental increases can effectively be evictions in many cases. This isn’t just something that is happening to seniors in Marysville, it is happening to people across our state who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Robinson. “Everyone deserves a safe, stable place to call home. This bill is one way that we can address the rising cost of housing and the crisis of homelessness that is impacting our region.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Inslee’s desk.

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