WBPA opposes latest rent control move in Seattle

WBPA News,

For Release:
July 12, 2023

Media Contact:
comms@thewbpa.org | 360.205.2345

WBPA opposes latest rent control move in Seattle

City stands to lose units, taxes and hurt affordability

OLYMPIA… The Seattle City Council seems poised to consider a local rent control regulation that the state’s leading business property association warns is blatantly illegal and would only make the region’s housing affordability crisis worse.

An ordinance being pushed by Councilmember Sawant would establish sweeping price controls on rent for new and existing units. It would also set up a new, local massive bureaucracy that would consider exemptions. It will include a 42 person Commission and seven Boards with six members each.

While the ordinance could only take effect if Washington’s statewide ban on rent control is repealed, a full vote by the Council is expected later this summer.

The Washington Business Properties Association and other groups are hoping that a new study on the impacts of rent control in Seattle will serve as a wakeup call.

“It’s astounding that we still have people pushing this antiquated and demonstrably bad policy,” said Chester Baldwin, CEO and Executive Director of the WBPA. “Let’s be clear, rent control has never worked anywhere and the data is pretty clear that if something like this ordinance were to pass, the City would be making housing affordability worse and lose out on millions in desperately needed tax revenues.”

Researchers recently modeled the impact of a rent cap in Seattle. Assuming a 7% annual cap showed that more than 20,000 units may not be built by 2030 and existing housing stock is at risk of falling into disrepair. The proposed ordinance restricts rents to CPI-W (currently 3.6%) but not less than zero. More than 45,000 are considered vulnerable during the same time period as operating costs grow but the ability of housing providers to provide adequate maintenance shrinks.

“This kind of rent control scheme is putting future development and existing housing stock at risk,” Baldwin said. “The financial impacts are staggering with losses of $5 million in property tax revenue every year and possibly $50 million in lost sales tax revenue. The City Council needs to reject this proposal and start looking at ways to actually address housing affordability.”