Housing Reform Stalls in 2024

Babak Shamsi Edmonds Lawyer

In 2023, the Washington State legislature passed multiple statutes in an effort to tackle the housing issues facing the public, chief among them, HB 1110 discussed here and here, and HB 1337 discussed here and here (the latter discussing HB 1110 as well). The passing of these laws will have a significant impact on housing in Washington State, leading to unique opportunities for homeowners and contractors to engage in construction and investment projects that will provide opportunities for access to housing, while also presenting concerns to other property owners regarding the impact of increased housing density.

However, passing these new laws has not stopped the Washington State House of Representatives from trying to continue its housing reform legislation. Indeed, in 2024, the House of Representatives has passed two major bills in an effort to combat the perceived shortage of housing and high costs of renting.

First, the House of Representatives passed HB 1245, which would bar cities from restricting homeowners from subdividing their properties, albeit with some limitations. Specifically, HB 1245 would allow owners to subdivide their lots so long as:

1. New lots would remain at least 2,000 square feet in size; 

2. New lots would amount to at least 40% the size of the original lot; and

3. New lots do not require the demolition or alteration of any affordable housing.

Cities would not be able to prevent owners from subdividing their lots if they meet the criteria above, and further, HB 1245 would also prevent cities from requiring more than one parking space per lot or from requiring frontages wider than 20 feet.

However, for the Senate, it appeared that adding loosened restrictions on subdivisions on top of already-passed laws permitting ADUs and multiplexes, was just a bridge too far. HB 1245, for the second year in a row (it originally passed the House of Representatives once before in 2023), failed to pass the Senate in 2024.

Another housing bill, HB 2114, which would have prevented increases in residential rental amounts in excess of 5% per year, and which would have also prevented increases at all in residential rent in the first year of occupancy, also failed in the Senate after revisions raising the rental increase ceiling to 7%.

Although housing reform have stalled thus far in 2024 after making significant traction in 2023, and although neither HB 1245 nor HB 2114 made their way into law, the fact remains that the Washington State legislature continues efforts to introduce housing reform that could substantially impact renters, homeowners, and residential real estate contractors in significant ways. We will continue to monitor developments in housing legislation in Washington State that have the potential to impact our clients and community.

If you are a property developer, contractor, or homeowner looking for assistance with matters pertaining to real estate and construction, the lawyers at Beresford Booth remain prepared to assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

To learn more about Housing Reform Stalls in 2024, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@beresfordlaw.com or by phone (425) 776-4100.

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