How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington in 2023?
In the United States, every state defines its laws and regulations. Every state has its rent regulations formulated in accordance with subsets of apartments. The idea is to monitor affordable housing and keep people from going homeless and broke.
However, Washington has no rent stabilization or rent control laws. This enables landlords to set rent and increase it across the state, given that they provide proper notice.
On the other hand, the landlord can increase the rent with certain discretions, as much as they wish, and whenever they want. So, let's find out:
What do these terms mean?
What are the exceptions?
What are the limitations?
These questions will help us understand the rights of both tenants and landlords in Washington.
What is Rent Control?
Rent control, or rent regulation, usually refers to laws and ordinances limiting how much a landlord can increase rent in a given period and set conditions for when and how much they can raise rents. Such regulations are set to make housing affordable by imposing price controls. There are generally two types of rent regulation:
- Eviction control
- Price control
Both require landlords to limit their rates for tenants based on factors such as salaries and inflation. Eviction controls specify criteria under which tenants cannot be evicted, whereas price controls define how landlords can increase rent. Controlling the eviction rates is often difficult due to constant changes in housing markets; therefore, wage-related regulations are more common.
Rent control is more common in cities where competition for limited housing stock raises market-rate prices out of reach for these residents.
According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s website, rent control is not applicable in all United States. For example, some states have neither rent control nor premonitions, including the following: Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Ohio, Maine, Hawaii, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Related Reading: How Much Notice Does a Landlord Have to Give?
When Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington?
Washington is one of the West Coast states that does not allow rent control by its counties, which is partly why the State is seeing upticks in real estate investment over recent years. In Washington State, landlords can raise rent after giving proper notice to the tenant, typically a minimum of 20-60 days depending on the length of the tenancy. There are no restrictions on the amount of rent a landlord can raise, but it cannot be done in a discriminatory manner or as retaliation against a tenant. Additionally, Washington has no rent control laws, so landlords have the right to set the rental rate they choose, as long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory.
How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington in 2023?
In Washington, landlords are allowed to raise rent at any amount as long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory. However, there are no state-mandated limits on rent increases, so it is up to the landlord to determine the amount of the rent increase. It is recommended to check the lease agreement for any provisions on rent increases.
A rent increase that is significantly higher than the market rate or that is unaffordable for the tenant, could be considered unreasonable. Additionally, landlords cannot raise rent in a discriminatory manner or in retaliation against tenants who have exercised their legal rights.
It's important to note that some cities in Washington have implemented rent control laws, which might limit the amount of rent increases for certain properties. For example, Reno has a 5% plus inflation cap on rent increases for certain properties. So, it would be best to check with your local government to see if there are any rent control laws in effect in your area.
According to the RentSpree.com, in recent years, the media rent rose from $1,572 in 2019 to $1,782 in 2022, on pace with the national average and wage increases. Some cities like Spokane Valley saw a 23% increase, and Yamika a 29% increase.
How Can You Have Fixed Rent in Washington?
In Washington State, rent can be fixed through a lease agreement between the landlord and tenant. A lease agreement is a contract between the landlord and tenant that outlines the terms of the tenancy, including the amount of rent and the length of the lease. If the lease agreement specifies a fixed rent amount, the landlord cannot raise the rent until the lease expires, unless the lease agreement allows for rent increases during the lease term. It's important to review the lease agreement carefully before signing to ensure that you understand the terms of the tenancy, including any provisions for rent increases.
It is important to note that even if the lease includes a provision for fixed rent, landlords may still be able to raise the rent if the lease allows for rent increases or if the lease has a provision for automatic rent increases based on a certain percentage or consumer price index.
It's also worth noting that even if the lease has a fixed rent provision, landlords may still be able to increase rent if both parties agree to a new lease with different terms, including rent.
It's important to read and understand the lease agreement and any local laws that may apply before signing.
When Can an Increase in Rent Become Illegal in Washington?
An increase in rent in Washington can become illegal in the following circumstances:
- Discrimination: Rent increases cannot be used to discriminate against tenants based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap.
- Retaliation: Rent increases cannot be used to retaliate against a tenant for exercising their legal rights, such as complaining about building code violations or joining a tenant union.
- Breach of contract: Rent increases cannot be used to circumvent the terms of a lease agreement. If a lease agreement specifies a fixed rent amount, the landlord cannot increase rent without the tenant's agreement, unless the lease agreement provides for periodic rent increases.
It is important to be aware of these restrictions and to consult with an attorney if you suspect that a rent increase may be illegal.
It's important to consult with a lawyer or tenant rights organization if you believe the rent increase to be illegal, as they can advise you on your rights and options, and help you to take the appropriate actions.
The legal rights include:
By making a complaint to any governmental agency regarding certain conditions in the building. Such as health inspectors, building inspectors, fire departments, or any other regulatory body for lousy living conditions.
By joining any tenant union. Suppose the landlord is uncomfortable with the tenant joining any union and retaliates against it. However, it is the legal right of the tenant to join any tenant union.
Use rent money to fix any defects in the rental unit. The tenant can use the rent money for these fixes when the landlord has failed to comply with the fixes, resulting in terrible living conditions, health hazards, or safety hazards.
Related Reading: How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent?
Is There a Certain Limit to Rent Increment in Washington?
Again, no! The landlord can increase the rent as much as they intend to. However, this can cause a loss of income in the future.
If tenants find the rent unreasonable, they are likely to move out when they find something within the budget. However, since the rent is high, conflicting with the space and location, there are chances to have new tenants any time soon.
When the old tenants leave, it's a loss of income for the landlord. That's because the property will stay vacant until someone comes along and agrees to the hiked rents.
What is the Rent Increase Notice in Washington?
A majority of jurisdictions require landlords to send an official rent increase notice to raise the price of rental units. This notification must detail the new price, as well as when it takes effect. In Washington, the amount of time that must be given depends on:
- The property type
- Lease type
- Rent increase
Landlords must give proper notice to the tenant before increasing rent, typically a minimum of 20-60 days depending on the length of the tenancy. It's important to review the lease agreement carefully before signing to understand the terms of the tenancy, including any provisions for rent increases.
The notice must be written and it should state the new rent amount, the date when the increase will take effect, and the reason for the increase. It must also inform the tenant of their right to terminate the lease if they do not agree with the increase. It's important to note that if a lease agreement is in place, the terms of the lease agreement will take precedence over the state law. Therefore, if the lease agreement stipulates a specific time frame for rent increases or a cap on the amount of the rent increase, the landlord must abide by the terms of the lease agreement.
Because local laws may differ, landlords should be aware of the county or city’s landlord-tenant regulations and the other state’s rules to comply.
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