Tenants fear rising rents at apartment complex in Washougal

Residents of Rockwood Terrace apartments said the rent for many would rise by 40% in December. The apartment is home to many people on fixed incomes.

WASHOUGAL, Wash. — Several tenants at an apartment complex in Washougal, Wash., are facing steep rent increases, leaving many people scrambling for options.

On Friday, residents of Rockwood Terrace Apartments received a lease renewal offer with a rent increase of almost $400 per month. This would bring the rent to $1,365 per month.

“This is a major increase and for an apartment complex that is nothing but pensioners, elderly, disabled and low-income people,” said tenant Saree Adams. “There’s nowhere for any of us to go if we have to leave here if we can’t make rent.”

According to the notice, tenants have until September 28 to sign the rental agreement, although the rent increase does not take effect until December. The notice stated that those who did not sign the lease would pay monthly. Tenants fear that this route will open the door to further rent increases.

OTHER STORIES: Oregon tenants and landlords react to 14.6% rent increase cap next year

“If we don’t sign a lease, they can renew it every month if they feel like it,” Adams said.

In addition to rising rents, management at Rockwood Terrace Apartments is imposing income restrictions on tenants. According to their application package, a single tenant cannot earn more than $38,940 and two people in an apartment cannot earn more than $44,460.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said tenant Cody Lynn, who added he had to take a lower-paying job to qualify for an apartment lease. “It doesn’t make sense that they say it’s low income and then they cut off their arm and leg and say, ‘Hey, you know that’s what you have to do.

Rising rents by nearly 40% is legal in Washington, which has no rent controls. In Oregon, rent increases are currently capped at 9.9%. This will increase to 14.6% in January 2023.

In June, the Vancouver Housing Authority told KGW that since Washington lifted its eviction moratorium in February, many Clark County landowners have raised their rent by about 15%. They are also seeing an increase in evictions.

“We’ve got nowhere to go, there’s nowhere to go,” Adams said.

KGW has contacted the management of Rockwood Terrace Apartments to clarify the reasons for the rent increase. Their rental office was closed on Tuesday afternoon and calls were not immediately returned.

According to public records, the apartment complex is owned by Post Rockwood LP, whose mailing address appears to be a postal center in West Hollywood, California.

Adams said she and other tenants were appealing to managers to mediate with the landlord of the apartments, hoping to negotiate a more affordable rent increase. For tenants like Kathie Marchel, the word “affordable” is relative, as she and many other tenants say they are barely getting by.

“I can spend maybe $30 a month on food, which isn’t much,” Marchel said. “I’m really scared right now. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

OTHER STORIES: Portland tenants can apply for relocation assistance in 2023 if their rent goes up 10% or more

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