‘They made everybody month-to-month so they could get everybody out’: Renters struggle to keep up with price increases of 30-50%

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Under the current eviction moratorium, landlords can’t raise rent on current tenants. However, that ends on June 30th, and renters know their future isn’t certain.

“It’s a pretty substantial increase. It’s $350 a month, so it’s kind of outlandish,” said Peter Newman, a father of three and local renter.

The Newman family has lived at Granite Court for over two years. They had hoped to re-sign a new lease in March but were informed everyone was moving to month-to-month leases. In May, they received notice that rates were increasing almost 40%. Right now, they pay $970, if they want to stay, they’ll have to pay $1,320.

“They made everybody month-to-month so that they could forcibly get everybody out if you can’t afford that,” he said.

Terri Anderson is the Spokane Director for the Tenants Union of Washington. She says these rent increases were expected but nothing to this level.

“These rent increases are probably expected, but they are way larger than I ever ever thought,” she said.

Renters call the union every day, and she says they’re reporting hikes anywhere from 30-50%. She fears it’s another way to force out tenants and replace them with renters who will pay more.

“They can issue a rent increase notice, and if it’s high enough and the tenant can’t pay that amount of rent increase, that pretty much serves as notice to leave,” Anderson said.

Landlords have had an extremely challenging year, not being allowed to evict tenants if they didn’t pay. They’ve lost a tremendous amount of money and some have even had to sell because of unpaid rent. Anderson says rental assistance from the government didn’t come fast enough which is why the the Tenants Union is asking City Council to extend the moratorium in Spokane through December. She says the money can be used to pay landlords and help renters get back on track. So far, no extensions have been granted.

Another issue the Newman family is struggling with is finding a new place to move. They say almost every place they check has a waiting list. Spokane is one of the most competitive housing markets for renters, according to RentCafe. They say 97% of all units filled up within the first three months of the year.

For now, Peter says he’s just going to work more and continue looking for a new house but is uncertain about his family’s future to find affordable housing in Spokane.

“When you get an increase, you have to find it somewhere, and if you can’t find that, then you’re definitely not going to be able to find that large sum in order to move somewhere  new,” he said. “Do you stretch yourself thinner than you already are to stay where you’re at or try to find somewhere else?”

Management for Granite Court declined to comment for this article.