Rental Housing Association of Washington's History

RHA as an entity has existed in one form or another dating back to at least 1935, and at that time was known as the Apartment Operators Association (AOA).

Founders of the Association are unknown, with its earliest Board meeting minutes found in RHA’s office dating back to January 9th, 1936. Highlights of that meeting included a break in the evening meeting’s proceedings for live music performed on piano and xylophone, a report from City Light on the acquisition of land in King County, and a rental vacancy survey being taken at the meeting. Two $5.00 savings deposits in the Fidelity Savings & Loan Association were also offered as prizes for attendees.

RHA has come a long way since those days.

In 1987 the AOA Board sought to expand its membership base by way of merger between the Apartment Operators Association and Rental Housing Operators of Seattle, and established the new association’s name as the Apartment Association of Seattle-King County (AASK).

The next big jump in membership came about in 1989 as a result of AASK filing a lawsuit against the City of Seattle questioning the legality of the City charging apartment owners a fee to fund a mandatory rental housing inspections program. This lawsuit became known as the Margola lawsuit, which AASK was successful in winning as the City agreed to settle the case in 1996, dropping its mandatory inspections program, and paying a fine for the fees it illegally collected to fund the program.

In 1989 the Association also began its move to becoming a more professionalized association with an office and hiring its first full-time staff person to manage its books.

AASK’s transition to a fully staffed office was completed in 1996 with the hiring of its first Executive Director. At that time RHA had 2,000 total members, based primarily in King County-only. His hiring marked a shift in to providing an expanded variety of products for AASK members, including credit checks and expanding RHA’s UPDATE publication.

AASK transitioned in to becoming the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound in late-2001, overhauling its bylaws to allow for membership outside of the King County / Seattle-area. Within two years of the switch in name membership growth was again flourishing.

By 2005 membership had grown substantially, and the incorporation of the Rental Housing Association of Pierce County in to RHA of Puget Sound added 350 new members, pushing total membership to over 4,000.

More recent history has seen an expansion and modernization of many of RHA’s products and services available to members, and a relocation to its current office location in West Seattle.

As RHA has shifted to become a state-wide association known as the Rental Housing Association of Washington membership has continued to grow to its current level of over 5,000 members.