Portland City Council Extends Housing Emergency

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Portland City Council extends housing emergency ordinance

The Portland City Council has extended its housing emergency declaration for another six months, including rules that require landlords to pay moving expenses of renters they evict without cause.

The policy also says landlords must pay moving costs of tenant if they raise rent more than 10 percent causing tenants to move. Payments range from $2,900 to $4,500 for landlords.

Landlords have argued the policy is disguised rent control.

Attempt to include mom and pop landlords in housing emergency ordinance

The ordinance currently exempts owners of one rental property.

The Community Alliance of Tenants argued to close the exemption for moving and relocation costs for mom and pop landlords who only rent one unit.

“There are several things wrong with the premise – the idea that property-owners of 1 unit be exempt of responsibility to the people of our city – but the most pressing concern is that many large property-owners and management companies have found a loophole. Landlords have been registering their individual properties under limited liability companies, or LLCs, to avoid accountability and traceability,” the alliance says on their website.

According to Oregonlive, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly proposed an amendment removing the exemption for small landlords. But the other four commissioners voted against it, noting the complexity of the exemption. They all said they thought the stakeholder group advising the housing bureau on this policy should iron out details of whom the council should and should not exempt.

"I'm not prepared to vote for amendments on the fly,"   Mayor Ted Wheeler said, according to Oregonlive.com.  "I'd like to respect the process we currently have in place."

Landlords argue city fee increases can force rent hikes

Jane Leo, a lobbyist for the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors, suggested that landlords are forced to hike rents higher than they'd like because of city policies.

 "When the city sets its limit on what the rent increase can be, the city needs to take a look at itself," Leo said, according to the Portland Mercury. "How much did the water and sewer rates go up? How much did the property taxes because of the bonds go up?"

The council is expected to vote again in December on making the housing emergency ordinance permanent.

Portland landlords have filed appeal in effort to overturn the ordinance

The appeal with the Appellate Court Administrator in Salem is 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."

“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.

Portland City Council extends housing emergency

Photos courtesy of MultifamilyNW.org

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