Mark Harmsworth of the Washington Policy Center believes both House Bill 1389 and House Bill 1124 should not be reintroduced in future legislatures
Washington Policy Center
House Bill 1389 (HB 1389), otherwise known as rent control and a similar bill, House Bill 1124 (HB 1124), appear to have failed to pass out of the house of origin in time for a floor vote this session. Of course, anything is still possible, but for now, both bills are dead.
This is good news for both renters and property owners.
There have been numerous studies that have shown the effects of rent control in other states. All point to a short-term positive impact, but long term, rent control has caused a decrease in affordability, lower quality rental properties and an increase in rents. Similar legislation has previously been passed in other states and now, given enough time has passed, the real impact is becoming apparent.
San Francisco, which enacted rent control in 2019 has seen a 15% reduction in rental housing availability with condo conversions falling 25%. Similar results have been seen in other cities where rent control has been implemented, such as Cambridge, Brookline, Boston and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
In Washington, the passage of the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1990, restricted buildable lands which has reduced the number of new homes that have been built. The housing crisis in Washington was partially created by public policy and now it’s time to update and reform the GMA. Simple changes to the GMA by modifying the arbitrary growth boundaries and population density goals set by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), will increase available land and the ability for more affordable housing to be built.
Both House Bill 1389 and House Bill 1124 should not be reintroduced in future legislatures. Neither bill would solve housing affordability in either the ownership, rental or commercial real estate markets. Both bills would, in the long term, only continue to increase the cost of affordable housing.
Mark Harmsworth is the director of the Small Business Center at the Washington Policy Center.
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