KTTH OPINION

Gross: Tacoma’s extreme ‘renters rights’ initiative will kill rental market

Oct 13, 2023, 7:22 PM | Updated: 7:23 pm

Image: Downtown Tacoma and the port, can be seen from the LeMay-America's Car Museum in 2021....

Downtown Tacoma. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The assault on small housing providers at the local level continues.

Tacoma’s “Tenant Bill of Rights” initiative (Citizens’ Initiative 2023-01) will strip rights away from landlords and have an adverse effect on the housing market.

The intent of the measure is rooted in a good place, but many of the findings will prove to be harmful on all sides. Specifically, the section that deals with eviction bans. The measure states its purpose is to “prohibit certain student/school-year evictions and cold-weather evictions.”

On the surface, this sounds like a good idea meant to protect kids and keep families out of the cold. However, it could be turned around to say “landlords can only evict non-rent-paying tenants during the summer months.”

“We do not want to (complete) any eviction, we work with them,” Debby Herbert, a property owner in Tacoma tells the Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “This will prevent us evicting for nine months during the school year. But it can be for anyone (who) is a student, even if they take just one online class, and they can be of any age. So, it’s ripe for abuse.”

KTTH and MyNorthwest have detailed the story of a “nightmare tenant” in the Rainer Valley neighborhood of Seattle who has been living rent free due to extremely tenant-friendly laws in Seattle.

More from Max Gross: Landlords are ditching Seattle over nightmare tenants, laws

While detailing this, the homeowner, Jason Roth, has continually told me “this is taking a property off the market.”

That’s the point that can’t be missed.

Yes, obviously, it is terrible Roth can’t get his house back. He shares the similar sentiment of many of these housing providers, which to is to offer up their properties to people who need them.

The connotation that landlords are just trying to make profit is far from the truth, especially on the local level. While corporate landlords are targeted, smaller housing providers are the ones who are impacted the most by the measures.

“(We) have empathy and compassion for people that are struggling, because there is high rent, and that is the cause and effect of increased fees, taxes, and (property taxes), especially,” Donna Walters, another housing provider said.

More from Tacoma: Skyrocketing rents puts kids nonprofit in desperate need of help

Both providers currently list their Tacoma properties at under market value. People like Donna and Debby are attempting to do their part in fighting the so-called “affordable housing crisis.”

“If this bill passes, we are going to be suffering just like the tenants are,” Walters said. “And we are suffering now…It’s a no-win situation.”

The initiative was devised with good intentions, stating, “This measure is designed to protect families, promote community, stabilize the rental market, and reduce homelessness.”

The approach it’s taking could work in contrast with everything it set out to do. There is also some fear among small housing providers that a statewide measure could hit the governor’s desk at some point.

Citizens’ Initiative 2023-01 will be on Tacoma voters’ ballots on Nov. 7.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-7pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

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Gross: Tacoma’s extreme ‘renters rights’ initiative will kill rental market