Could rent control solve the housing crisis in western Washington?

SEATTLE -- With Oregon set to pass a state-wide rental control, some hope similar legislation may come to Washington, however others disagree this option is the best answer.

The state of Oregon is set to become the first state with mandatory rent controls.

In Washington, rent control has been illegal since 1981, but many hope to see that change. Rent controls regulate how much landlords can charge their tenants.

“I’m a single mom of six children; I was married to a soldier for 16 years, and now I’m the sole provider,” said Jay Dena Hart.

Hart says she lived in her apartment complex in Issaquah for more than 10 years without issues. She says within the last year her rent skyrocketed. Hart says she was paying $615 per month, now she has to pay $1270.

“I feel extremely betrayed. I was promised affordable housing,” she said.

She is not alone. Half a dozen neighbors all living in the same complex shared the stories of rent increases without warning.

“You just never know when you come home if there will be an eviction notice on your door and if your kids will be the ones to see it,” said Shannon Rogers, who lives in the same complex as Hart.

For many, the answer to these issues is rental control.

“We need lawmakers to react to this crisis with urgency,” said Erin Fenner, director of communication for Washington Community Action Network.

Fenner says hearing Oregon is set to pass state wide rental control gives her hope.

“We know law makers in Oregon are listening, and maybe that will help lawmakers in Washington and across the country,” said Fenner.

However, other say rental control is not the answer.

“It creates so many problems it’s unbelievable,” said James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research for the University of Washington.

Young says rental control creates more issues than it fixes.

“The thing is, the side effects are often much worse than what you’re solving,” said Young.

Side effects like fewer housing options and poor renter landlord relationships, said Young.