By The Associated PressWASHINGTON — Dooring into a new home is often the most dramatic part of an apartment complex, but it’s not always as simple as locking the doors and moving in.
Residents who have recently moved into a house that’s already occupied by someone with an apartment license are getting a warning from the state Department of Health that they are at risk for exposure to indoor air pollutants like mercury and other toxins.
The warning, which is due to be issued in early July, is the latest step in a push by the state to close a loophole that allows many people to rent apartments without having to pay the $600 to $1,500 fee.
The new law requires all new residential units built before January 1, 2020, to have a single-family unit occupancy license that includes a ventilation system and a fireplace.
The law has been a priority for Gov.
Jay Inslee and other lawmakers.
Inslee, who signed the law, said he signed the legislation to make it easier for people to build new housing in the state.
He called the law a “step in the right direction” but said he wants to do more to help people stay safe.
Inslee and the other lawmakers say the new law has helped many people get into apartments that they couldn’t afford to buy in the past.
But critics say the legislation also makes it harder for people who want to rent in the city to get there.
In its warning, the state said people who live in units with an occupancy license with the required ventilation system will be more than 50 percent more likely to get sick and have higher rates of illness than those who live elsewhere.
The notice said residents who have an occupancy permit issued before the law took effect will be at risk of experiencing increased rates of asthma and elevated blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
It also said people with asthma and high blood pressure will be less likely to seek medical care or seek treatment in emergency rooms.
There are about 13,000 apartments in Washington that are owned by an occupancy group or a person with an existing occupancy license.
About 2,600 of those apartments are located in Washington City, a neighborhood in northwest Washington that is near the state capitol.
People living in Washington city are typically older than 65, and those with high blood pressures and asthma are at higher risk for having a stroke.
Washington City is home to more than a million people, about 1.5 percent of the city’s population.
About 6,000 people live in apartment complexes that are leased to people with a license, the health department said.
The notice said that in those units, the residents who are already living with someone with a home license have an increased chance of developing respiratory symptoms and being at increased risk for respiratory illnesses, as well as more serious cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
Health officials said the health consequences for people with preexisting conditions will be similar to those for the general population.
While the law requires new homes to have ventilation systems, some of the health problems associated with new apartment living will be eliminated by the new laws, officials said.
The health department also said the new requirements are intended to help residents who want new housing and who have been renting before.
“The new requirements provide more certainty that people can move into and stay in new housing that they’ve always wanted to live in,” said David Koehler, deputy director of the state’s division of housing and family services.
Koehler added that the health law will provide guidance to landlords and tenants in terms of how to plan and meet the health needs of their tenants and how to ensure that health-related issues can be addressed before they become a safety concern.