Rental Housing Code Changes

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
For Rent sign in front of house

What’s happening?

Washington cities have begun adopting code changes intended to make rental housing easier for tenants to access, retain, and leave without negative consequences like eviction or homelessness.

Thurston Regional Planning Council indicates that Olympia is now a majority renter city. That means that Olympia is especially invested in ensuring that rental housing is stable and affordable for renters and those who operate rental housing. Olympia City Council’s Land Use and Environment Committee is considering changes in code to improve the stability of rental housing.

What could be included in the code changes (and other cities that have added similar codes)?

  • Registration of landlords (Bellingham, Lacey, Seattle)
  • Installment payments for move in fees and deposits (Burien, Seattle)
  • Just causes for evictions - like nonpayment of rent, noncompliance with lease (Federal Way, Burien, Seattle Bellingham)

What cannot be included in the code changes?

  • Rent control: prohibited by State law
  • Land use policies: duplexes and accessory dwelling units are being considered through other Housing Code Amendments

Just Cause and Notice Code Amendment Proposals

City staff have drafted Just Cause and Notice Extensions for City Council’s Land Use and Environment Committee to consider May 21 at 4:30 p.m. Just cause ordinances prevent property owners or managers from ending rental agreements with tenants, except for specific reasons.

If this draft ordinance were to take effect, rental agreements could only be terminated for the specified reasons listed in the ordinance – and many of those terminations would include time notices that extend past the current requirements of the state Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (59.18 RCW).

Tell us your story

As we begin to develop these code changes, we want to start by hearing your experiences. Using the "Stories" tab below, tell us about any challenges you have faced as either a renter or a landlord.


What’s happening?

Washington cities have begun adopting code changes intended to make rental housing easier for tenants to access, retain, and leave without negative consequences like eviction or homelessness.

Thurston Regional Planning Council indicates that Olympia is now a majority renter city. That means that Olympia is especially invested in ensuring that rental housing is stable and affordable for renters and those who operate rental housing. Olympia City Council’s Land Use and Environment Committee is considering changes in code to improve the stability of rental housing.

What could be included in the code changes (and other cities that have added similar codes)?

  • Registration of landlords (Bellingham, Lacey, Seattle)
  • Installment payments for move in fees and deposits (Burien, Seattle)
  • Just causes for evictions - like nonpayment of rent, noncompliance with lease (Federal Way, Burien, Seattle Bellingham)

What cannot be included in the code changes?

  • Rent control: prohibited by State law
  • Land use policies: duplexes and accessory dwelling units are being considered through other Housing Code Amendments

Just Cause and Notice Code Amendment Proposals

City staff have drafted Just Cause and Notice Extensions for City Council’s Land Use and Environment Committee to consider May 21 at 4:30 p.m. Just cause ordinances prevent property owners or managers from ending rental agreements with tenants, except for specific reasons.

If this draft ordinance were to take effect, rental agreements could only be terminated for the specified reasons listed in the ordinance – and many of those terminations would include time notices that extend past the current requirements of the state Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (59.18 RCW).

Tell us your story

As we begin to develop these code changes, we want to start by hearing your experiences. Using the "Stories" tab below, tell us about any challenges you have faced as either a renter or a landlord.


What challenges have you experienced as a renter or landlord?

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

You need to be signed in to share your story.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Landlords preying on the Financially Vulnerable

    by cal-rom, 6 months ago

    I have only lived in Olympia a short time, but my introduction to this county as a renter was harrowing. My landlord is an extremely wealthy person who doesn't have mortgages to worry about, but still maintains terribly run-down dwellings for exorbitant costs.

    We had a hole in our drywall in the kitchen that was not fixed for months despite notice before move-in that it would need repair. We could hear critters crawling in our walls. Our roof leaked during the rainy season, there were exposed boards with nails in the floor, and mold growing in the windows and walls... Continue reading

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Rentals as a Retirement Plan

    by Olympia Landlord, 6 months ago

    It is important to keep rights for landlords and not follow the lead of Seattle. Seattle council members boast about their "success". But that "success" is only passing the laws - it's actually not a success in providing housing. Many landlords in Seattle are selling because the "environment" does not benefit them. This reduces the number of available properties and drives up the rents due to scarcity. If you are concerned about homelessness, landlord rights should not be eroded.

    Seattle's mistakes - Taking security deposits in installments. A security deposit is a landlord's protection. It's like selling a car or... Continue reading

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Live in a neighborhood with lots of rentals

    by Llc, 7 months ago

    I’m currently a homeowner, have been a co-landlord in the past and live in a neighborhood with many rentals. The rentals, almost without exception are easy to pick out. Lawns are unkempt. Trash and cigarette butts litter the street and yard. One was most certainly a drug house. Numerous vehicles are parked in front. Houses are unmaintained. Generally they are eyesores. Neighbors have tried speaking with owners of the worst places to no avail. Personally, I do not want to see any more rentals in my neighborhood unless there is some way to ensure that the properties are maintained and... Continue reading

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    The role of Indie Landlords

    by whitneybowerman, 7 months ago

    I've been a landlord in Olympia for the past 13 years. My husband and I have 8 rentals, ranging from studio to 3 bedroom/2 bath. Our purpose in having these rentals is to pay them off by the time we retire and have the rent then provide us income. We both work while raising a young family, and we manage the rentals on the side. I work in homeless services.

    The first rental we purchased at the height of the market in 2007, right before the crash. It took us a decade before we were not underwater, due to how... Continue reading

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Both a Landlord and a Tenant

    by KiaraB, 7 months ago

    I'm a landlord for just one property, my personal family home that I rent to tenants while I'm living in Seattle pursuing career advancement. I plan to return to my house in Olympia and resume living there in several years. I looked at the PowerPoint attached to this page, and it does seem to be geared more towards commercial renting businesses; I just want to speak up that there are people like me, who are renting out their homes and not making a business out of it.

    The rent I charge just covers the mortgage and is on the cheaper... Continue reading