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Rent for 2-bedroom apartments rising quickly in Tacoma

As rent increases across Washington, the city of Tacoma is seeing an interesting trend for a particular style of apartment.

TACOMA, Wash. — Census data used in the American Community Survey are showing that two-bedroom apartments are seeing a higher rate of rent increase than other units.

Like in many parts of the country, securing affordable housing in Tacoma can be tough.

Marilyn Peneff moved to Tacoma from Seattle, hoping to find better prospects, but says she’s come up short.

In the meantime, she and her husband are staying in an apartment, but now she is worried about another thing: rent hikes.

“We’re really lucky, but a lot of people I’ve heard had their rents raised,” she said.

One style, in particular, that seems to be going up faster than the others is two-bedroom apartments.

Chris Dobler of Dobler Management says that two bedrooms are a popular choice among the properties she manages for people looking to share the costs of housing.

“We always see a strong demand or two-bedrooms more than one-bedrooms, particularly, because when the economy is difficult or when there’s a lot of uncertainty, people tend to rent two bedrooms with a roommate instead of when they’re more confident, they’ll rent a one-bedroom by themselves,” she said.

But Dobler also says that property taxes play a big role in rising rents.

She pointed to one of the properties she manages, which was originally meant to be affordable for working-class families, that had its property taxes increase over 10% for three years straight.

A hard pill to swallow for many.  

“If you couple that with three-year averages of renting property tax increase, and you have water, sewer, and trash going up 6%, right out the gate you’re at a 16% increase each year, just on those expenses. How do you pass on a 16% increase to your customer?” Dobler says.

Dobler encouraged renters in Tacoma to look into how property taxes are spent in their neighborhoods, and reach out to their elected officials because it’s something that affects the entire community, not just homeowners.

“They’re paying for the property tax increases through their rent. They’re paying for their water, sewer, and trash, utility expenses that a single-family homeowner is also paying for, they’re paying for those through their rent.”

Laurie Davenport, director of Development and Outreach of Tacoma ProBono warns that if rent increases aren’t addressed, the city could become too expensive for its own residents to live there.

“It becomes more expensive to live here, so people who can’t afford to live here move out, the people who can move in, and it changes us,” she said. “It’s very disruptive for people who’re getting rent increases, then they’re just like, ok, I can’t afford this, I can’t negotiate with my landlord, this is what it is, and I’m never going to be able to do this.”


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