A return of the Seattle rent control debate

Oct 2, 2019
Written by wpengine

The rent control debate in Seattle may return as a result of a proposal by incumbent councilwoman Kshama Sawant.

Her proposal would limit rent increases to the rate of inflation and leave relatively few rental accommodations exempt such as hotels, short-term rentals, government-owned and managed housing and temporary shelters. Sawant cited rents rising in Seattle at three times the rate of inflation the past several years.

Rent control currently is banned under state law but Sawant believes an action by her council colleagues to move forward would pressure the state Legislature to overturn the ban.

Rent control has been discussed in Seattle for at least the past five years. Three years ago, the Washington Research Council concluded it was a bad idea. Among other reasons, the council said rent control would discourage construction of new rental housing, reduce the city’s property tax base and shift the burden of property taxes from renters to owner-occupied housing.

Read the proposed ordinance here. The Research Council’s study of the topic is here.