BG legislator proposing rent legislation in upcoming session


Rep. Greg Cheney, R-Battle Ground, is proposing legislation during the upcoming 2024 legislative session that would maintain or reduce rents for tenants while providing property tax relief for landlords.

In a press release, Cheney described his proposal as “a unique approach” that will help renters whose rents have increased significantly, as well as property owners, who experience higher property taxes.

House Bill 2033 would create a rent-relief incentive program where landlords who maintain or reduce current rental prices would be eligible for property tax relief. According to the press release, the property tax incentive program would work as follows:

A landlord who maintains current rental agreements would receive 2% of the annual rent owed for each unit.

A landlord who offers a 3% decrease in rental agreements would receive 4% of the annual rent owed for each unit.

A landlord who offers a 7% decrease in rental agreements would receive 7% of the annual rent owed for each unit.

“We have a housing crisis in our state and especially in Southwest Washington,” said Cheney, who serves as the ranking member on the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee. “The long-term solution to the housing crisis is supply, which is going to take years to catch up. But there are things we can do now if we’re willing to get creative and try something different. … Our state has seen record revenue increases over the past several years. It’s time to give some of that back in the form of property tax and rental relief. These two issues are consistently brought to me by constituents seeking help from my legislative office.

Cheney stated that while his bill will help all rental property owners, it is aimed at “the smaller, mom-and-pop rental properties.”

“These are the ‘small-business’ type of landlords that form the backbone in many of our rental communities,” Cheney said in the press release. “They want to be good landlords and not price their tenants out, but in many cases have no choice due to rising property taxes and new rules and regulations that increase legal costs and liability.”

Cheney said his bill would particularly impact low- and middle-income households. According to the language bill:

“The legislature finds that both landlords and tenants have been impacted by the increasing costs of maintaining and operating rental housing. The legislature further finds that increasing state property taxes contribute to these rising costs and adversely affect the ability of all Washingtonians, particularly low income and middle-income households, in obtaining safe, decent, and affordable housing. The legislature also finds that the state lacks adequate support for low-income and middle-income families seeking affordable housing and that it is in the public interest to provide resources for these households.”

Cheney’s bill would also require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee to review the rent-relief incentive program’s impact on statewide rents and to landlords and tenants, according to the release. The rent-relief incentive program would expire in June, 2036.

The 60-day 2024 legislative session begins on Jan. 8 and ends March 7.