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Veteran commercial real estate broker Don Arsenault, CCIM, changed his life when he entered the profession after many years as a school counselor. Searching for a way to give back to the industry, Arsenault has become deeply engaged in helping to pass several significant legislative bills in Washington state over the past 25 years.
“As in commercial real estate, building relationships in politics is critical to success,” Arsenault says. While those relationships take time and cultivation, the effort has been worthwhile for the commercial real estate industry and ordinary people in the state of Washington due to his diligence and passion.
For example, Arsenault helped to pass a bill in which a commercial real estate broker can file a lien against the proceeds of a sale if the commission is not paid. “In our state, before this legislation passed, even if agreements were signed, principals could ignore or delay the payment of commissions,” he says. “Brokers would have to sue to get their fees.”
Another key legislative victory was passing a law to prevent rent control in Washington. More recently, Arsenault has concentrated on passing four bills to help the self-storage industry. “This industry is a tremendous investment tool,” says Arsenault, who is serving as vice president and legislative chair of the Washington Self Storage Association.
Among the bills was one to change the excessive late charges for tardy payments into reasonable fees that only occur once a month instead of repeatedly. Another bill created a storage rental contract in which the tenant states the value of the contents in the storage unit from the outset. This prevented tenants from claiming the contents were worth $100,000 if a disaster destroyed them. Most self-storage facilities are owned by mom and pop businesses, who could not afford huge payments to the tenants who claimed expensive, undocumented items in their storage units, according to Arsenault.
A firm believer in commercial real estate as the best and easiest way to achieve wealth, he also takes pride in the six bills he has helped to pass. “Usually, 2,500 to 4,000 bills are introduced in every legislative session, only 200 to 400 bills turn into laws each year,” Arsenault says. His latest legislative victories are only spurring on his commitment to giving back to the commercial real estate industry.