Tacoma tenants’ rights measure passes with fewer than 400 votes

By: - November 13, 2023 2:33 pm

Unopened ballots await processing during the 2020 election. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Update: This story was updated 5 a.m. on Wednesday to reflect new results in the race and an updated number of ballots left to count.

A Tacoma ballot measure that would provide some of the state’s strongest protections for renters has passed with supporters having just 361 more votes than those voting against it.

The slim lead held by backers of Initiative Measure No. 1 amounted to 50.4% of votes tallied, compared to opponents’ 49.6%. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office estimates there are only 100 ballots left to count in the county. The next vote tabulation is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.

Under the measure, landlords would have to give two notices to tenants before raising rent and at least six months notice of pending increases.

At any time after a 180-day notice of a rent increase of 5% or more, a tenant can request relocation assistance equal to up to three months of rent, depending on the amount of the increase. Landlords must provide relocation assistance within 30 days of receiving the request. 

The measure would also prohibit landlords from evicting people during cold weather, or during the school year if a tenant is a student. 

Ty Moore, campaign manager for Tacoma for All, which supported the initiative, said in a statement on Election Night that, if passed, the measure could spur renters’ rights expansions in other parts of Washington.

Many parts of the state are facing shortages of affordable housing and high rates of homelessness. 

“We’re thrilled to be on the verge of this victory for 100,000 tenants and all working families in Tacoma,” Moore said. “We’re going to win the strongest tenant protections in Washington State.”

Another renter protection measure in Bellingham is set to pass, with about 62% of the vote in favor of it as of the last vote count on Thursday. The next round of ballots will be counted on Friday, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s office. 

Under that initiative, landlords have to give 120 days notice for rent increases. Landlords also have to cover some relocation expenses if they raise rent by 8% or more.

Correction: This article previously said the Tacoma ballot measure was ahead by 322 votes as of Monday, Nov. 13. The correct margin was 332 votes.

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Laurel Demkovich
Laurel Demkovich

Laurel joined States Newsroom in 2023 after almost three years as a statehouse reporter for the Spokesman-Review. She covers state government, the Legislature and all other Olympia news.