The Nimbus Apartments are pictured on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Nimbus Apartments are pictured on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Snohomish County has the highest rent in the state. Could this bill help?

In one year, rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Snohomish County went up 20%. A bill seeks to cap any increases at 7%.

OLYMPIA — Kraig Peck took an unusual stance Thursday.

Many landlords fervently oppose a hot-button measure pushed by Democrats in Olympia to put a 7% annual cap on rent increases. But Peck, a landlord from Bothell, thinks the cap works.

“A 7% limit when occupied is more than enough,” Peck said in a contentious public hearing Thursday. “Our biggest expense is mortgage, it does not go up.”

House Bill 2114, a proposal to limit how much landlords can increase their tenants’ rents every year, comes as rents across the state skyrocket. To afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Snohomish County, you would need to work three full-time minimum wage jobs.

That price in Snohomish County is $2,455 per month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It ties King County for the most expensive fair market rent in the state, based on a 2023 report.

In 2022, the average fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Snohomish County was $2,044 per month, according to the housing coalition. In just a year, that rent increased by 20%.

If the rent stabilization bill passed, a $2,455 per month rent couldn’t rise more than $171 in a year.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to get rent stabilization in the state.

Last year, Rep. Alex Ramel, D-Bellingham, introduced a bill to cap rent increases between 3% to 7% per year, depending on the annual rate of inflation. His bill failed to make it to the House floor for a vote.

This year’s bill would prohibit any rent increases in the first year of tenancy and would allow a tenant to break a lease if a landlord increases rent above 7%. It would also limit monthly late fees to 1.5% of a tenant’s monthly rent.

On Thursday, a packed Senate hearing allowed residents one last chance to give legislators a piece of their mind before the bill moves any further.

Peck’s comments ran contrary to what many other landlords have said about the bill.

Audrey Riddle, representing Goodman Real Estate, said the bill would discourage future investment in real estate. The Seattle-based real estate investment company has projects in Everett, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mukilteo.

“In the past five years, our taxes, insurance and utilities have increased 65%,” Riddle said. “This bill does not account for the increases of required expenses to maintain housing.”

Costs like property taxes and maintenance typically make up between 20% to 40% of rental income, Peck said. He thinks a 7% cap would be enough to cover “catastrophic” increases in those costs.

Rent isn’t the only avenue for landlords to make money, Peck added, noting rising property values and “very generous tax benefits.”

“The federal tax depreciation allowance generally saves us more than we actually put down to buy our properties,” he said.

The bill passed the House last week and is now in the Senate’s hands.

Supporters of the legislation say it will give renters predictability as they budget.

Duane Leonard, the executive director of the Housing Authority of Snohomish County, said the measure would provide much-needed relief to renters.

“Households with modest incomes are under tremendous pressure financially and sudden large rent increases can have severe impacts,” he wrote in an email. “There are thousands of families in the county that would benefit from this bill.”

The Ways and Means committee has until Monday to vote on the bill. If it passes through Ways and Means, it would then face the scrutiny of the Senate floor.

If the bill makes it to the Senate floor, it could have a hard time making it through.

A vote on the House floor last week saw five Democrats voting against the bill, ending in a 54-43 vote.

A similar bill in the Senate failed last month after Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, voted against the bill, denying the votes it needed to pass out of the Senate Housing Committee. It died despite giving landlords more wiggle room than HB 2114.

The Senate version would have limited annual rent increases to 15% per year and allowed local governments to lower the cap.

If passed, the House version would go into effect immediately.

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623; jenelle.baumbach@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jenelleclar.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Snohomish City Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish may sell off old City Hall, water treatment plant, more

That’s because, as soon as 2027, Snohomish City Hall and the police and public works departments could move to a brand-new campus.

Lewis the cat weaves his way through a row of participants during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Downward cat? At kitten yoga in Everett, it’s all paw-sitive vibes

It wasn’t a stretch for furry felines to distract participants. Some cats left with new families — including a reporter.

FILE - In this Friday, March 31, 2017, file photo, Boeing employees walk the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner down towards the delivery ramp area at the company's facility in South Carolina after conducting its first test flight at Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C. Federal safety officials aren't ready to give back authority for approving new planes to Boeing when it comes to the large 787 jet, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The plane has been plagued by production flaws for more than a year.(AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
Boeing pushes back on Everett whistleblower’s allegations

Two Boeing engineering executives on Monday described in detail how panels are fitted together, particularly on the 787 Dreamliner.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Struggling state ferry system finds its way into WA governor’s race

Bob Ferguson backs new diesel ferries if it means getting boats sooner. Dave Reichert said he took the idea from Republicans.

Traffic camera footage shows a crash on northbound I-5 near Arlington that closed all lanes of the highway Monday afternoon. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Woman dies almost 2 weeks after wrong-way I-5 crash near Arlington

On April 1, Jason Lee was driving south on northbound I-5 near the Stillaguamish River bridge when he crashed into a car. Sharon Heeringa later died.

Owner Fatou Dibba prepares food at the African Heritage Restaurant on Saturday, April 6, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Oxtail stew and fufu: Heritage African Restaurant in Everett dishes it up

“Most of the people who walk in through the door don’t know our food,” said Fatou Dibba, co-owner of the new restaurant at Hewitt and Broadway.

A pig and her piglets munch on some leftover food from the Darrington School District’s cafeteria at the Guerzan homestead on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Darrington, Washington. Eileen Guerzan, a special education teacher with the district, frequently brings home food scraps from the cafeteria to feed to her pigs, chickens and goats. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘A slopportunity’: Darrington school calls in pigs to reduce food waste

Washingtonians waste over 1 million tons of food every year. Darrington found a win-win way to divert scraps from landfills.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.