WASHINGTON - The rental market in some parts of Western Washington actually improved during the pandemic.
According to Zillow, rent increased by $16 a month in Snohomish County and $105 a month in Pierce County.
"There was definitely two different paths that diverged for rents in the region," said Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow. "Kind of those more affordable middle class and working class renting communities never really got a break on rent during the pandemic."
Meanwhile, Tucker said in the most expensive neighborhoods in downtown Seattle the rent has decreased and appears to have finally bottomed out.
In general rents in suburban areas have been stronger than in urban areas during the pandemic, according to Zillow, and this is likely because renters have more flexibility than homeowners, and with remote working, many of them opted for a rental in the suburbs where you typically get more space for your money.
Tucker said vacancy rates have been very low for rentals and that’s partly because of the moratorium.
Seattle for Growth is an advocacy group that has been working on getting rent relief to people who may have lost their jobs or are facing other financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
"Those people who are hard hit that have six, seven, eight, ten thousand dollars in back rent, that’s a lot of money and so we need to get that paid," said Roger Valdez, Director of Seattle for Growth.
According to Valdez, the vast majority of people are paying their rent.
"We’ve seen throughout this whole thing 95 percent collection rate," said Valdez.
However, he fears that if we don’t get rental assistance to those who need it soon, the debt could end up costing the entire rental community.
"What we’re headed for is not a tsunami of evictions or mass evictions. What we’re headed for is a lot of unpaid rent and higher rents for people that are living in rental housing now and into the future to absorb all that unpaid rent," said Valdez.
Valdez believes lawmakers need to keep focusing on providing rent relief and create a friendly environment for housing providers instead of creating more risk and regulation.
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