Rent Control One Step Closer As Bill Passes Oregon House

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rent control bill passes Oregon House

A bill that lifts the ban on statewide rent control and leaves the rent control issue up to cities has passed the Oregon House 31-27 and now heads to the Senate, according to reports.

The bill, HB 2004,  that passed also prohibits no-cause evictions. Two Democrats joined every Republican in voting against the measure. It now heads to the Oregon Senate.

The measure would allow cities and counties to enact local ordinances that would control how much landlords could raise rents each year, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.  Currently, there’s a statewide ban on such ordinances.

House Bill 2004 is part of a package of legislation meant to address the state’s growing housing crunch.

“Oregon families are struggling against record rent increases and housing insecurity right now,” Rep. Mark Meek, D-Oregon City, said during a heated debate on the House floor according to the Statesman-Journal. "Oregon is in trouble. The rental housing market is out of balance. Doing nothing is not the answer.”

The bill was amended from the original to allow landlords to use no-cause evictions during the first six months of occupancy, to screen out bad tenants.

After six months, a landlord could terminate a month-to-month tenancy only for cause.

It would allow landlords to evict tenants for business or personal reasons such as needing to make repairs or renovations, selling the unit to someone who plans to live in it, or when a landlord or family member plans to move into the unit.

In those cases, landlords would have to give a 90-day notice and provide one month’s rent for moving expenses.

Small landlords with four or fewer units would not have to pay relocation costs.

Rent control is not the answer

Though housing problems are real and profound, said Rep. Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass, desperate times do not always call for desperate measures.

"We are fracturing an already fragile relationship between landlords and tenants," he told Oregonlive.com, adding that he is "flat out ashamed" at the inability of competing interest groups to find common ground.

Landlord and tenant lobbyists "need to grow up and get it together and figure out something we can all get behind," Stark said.

Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, who is a landlord, also told Oregonlive.com that HB 2004 is "a well-intentioned effort," but isn't the right approach. "This bill does not build a single apartment unit," he said.

 

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It would require municipalities to ensure a fair rate of return for landlords, set up a process for landlords to request an exception to allow for a fair rate of return, and exempt any new residential development for at least five years.

House Republicans argued that the bill would make the housing crisis worse, by discouraging investment in rental properties and in new construction.

“I think we should let the private market solve this shortage,” said Rep. Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass. “The sad aftermath here is so many people are raising their rental rates right now in anticipation of what this body might do.”

Donna Wilson is property manager at Salem’s Ned Baker Real Estate and owns four rental homes herself.

She wants people to know that most landlords are not “evil, greedy slumlords.”

Many are older people who own single-family homes, she said.

Wilson told the Statesman-Journal she is worried because the bill doesn’t define whether a “landlord” is a property management company or the homeowners it represents.

“We have clients who own one, two, three homes. If a landlord is defined as a property management company, our clients are not going to get exempt from paying relocation costs.” Many of her clients are people who could not sell their homes during the recession, she told the newspaper.

Photo courtesy of MultifamilyNW.org

Resources:

House Oks Local Rent Control

House Votes To Restrict No-Cause Evictions

Oregon Is One Step Closer To Rent Control

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