Landlords Appeal Ruling In Tenant Relocation Lawsuit

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No cause evictions and tenant relocation issues are tied together

Portland landlords, who lost the first round in a lawsuit against the Portland tenant relocation ordinance back in July, have filed an appeal to the judge’s ruling.

The two Portland landlords last February claimed the ordinance, backed by Portland City Councilwoman Chloe Eudaly, the “Tenant Relocation Ordinance,” violated Oregon statutes and the Oregon Constitution.

They filed the appeal with the Appellate Court Administrator in Salem seeking to overturn the judgment entered in the case back in July, signed by Judge Henry Breithaupt, in the Multnomah County Circuit Court.

 Breithaupt stated the ordinance was legal, ruling against landlords Phillip E. Owen and Michael L. Feves’ suit, concluding “the ordinance was a legislative response to a socio-economic problem in the city… such change is not prohibited."

Tenant relocation ordinance disguised rent control

“Though we appreciate the time and effort the court expended on this case, we still strongly believe the ordinance will only aggravate Portland’s housing crisis,” Owen and Feves’ attorney John DiLorenzo said in a release.

 “The court failed to see it for what it is – disguised rent control, which violates state statutes and the Oregon Constitution,” DiLorenzo said.

Eudaly’s ordinance requires residential property lessors to provide relocation assistance amounting to what may often total three months’ rent to tenants (a) who have left a tenancy after a rent increase of 10% or higher (b) who have received a 90-day no-cause termination notice; or (c) reach the end of their lease for a set term and are not offered a renewal. 

That relocation assistance means landlords must pay $2,900 to $4,500 toward relocation costs.

How tenant relocation ordinance violates state law

Owen and Feves’ complaint claimed the ordinance as amended violates state law in at least three ways.

  • First, it effectively “controls the rent that may be charged for the rental of any dwelling unit,” in violation of ORS 91.225.
  • Second, it conflicts with ORS 90.427, which authorizes no-cause terminations of tenancies, by imposing significant financial burdens on lessors who utilize the no-cause termination procedure.
  • Third, the ordinance expressly applies to existing leases and therefore impairs contracts in violation of the state Contract Clause, Article I, section 21, of the Oregon Constitution.

Eudaly says the appeal is a waste of time

"The ruling from Judge Breithaupt was clear and comprehensive. It is disappointing that DiLorenzo and the landlord lobby continue to waste time and money fighting the city in its efforts to stabilize families in their homes,” Eudaly said in a statement in the Portland Tribune.  “Their time might be better spent helping us find additional solutions to the housing crisis instead of trying to take away the only tool we have to help vulnerable people."

Eudaly originally introduced the policy and the city council unanimously approved it within Eudaly's and Mayor Ted Wheeler's first month on the job.

The rule is set to expire in October 2017. The city council is in talks to extend the rule, according to Oregonlive.com

No cause evictions which are tied to tenant relocation were the subject of protests last fall

Resources:

Relocation ordinance information

Landlords appeal ruling upholding PDX tenant protections

Landlords Appeal Judge's Approval of Portland's Renter Relocation Law

Landlords appeal ruling upholding Portland tenant protections

Photos courtesy of Multifamily NW.from protests last year.

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