Oregon’s Rent Control Reform Gains Momentum with Key Amendments

A bill that would strengthen rent control in Oregon has passed out of committee after receiving substantial revisions, which is good news for tenants. The proposed legislation, a contentious issue in the state, has advanced toward the final stages of the legislative process. Supporters of the law say it will prevent rent increases and make more low-income housing available to families.

The state is now experiencing a severe housing shortage, and there are concerns that this policy could discourage new construction and worsen the situation. Notwithstanding the backlash, the bill’s passage is being celebrated as a major victory for tenants’ rights in Oregon.

Oregon Takes a Big Step Forward With a Bill to Control Rent

On Monday, the full legislature approved a bill that would limit annual rent increases by Oregon landlords. According to the reports, The current rent cap of 7% plus CPI index would be lowered to 5% plus CPI index under Senate Bill 611.

The law would set a maximum rise of 10% independent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which fluctuates with inflation. Before being changed, the measure would have limited future raises to only 3% plus inflation, for a maximum of 8%.

On Monday, lawmakers decided along partisan lines to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Several tenant safeguards were removed from the original draft. Despite the amendments, landlords continue to oppose the law.

“It sends a signal to investors that Oregon is not open for business,” said Molly McGrew, a lobbyist for the landlord association Multifamily Northwest. β€œWashington state did not pass their rent control law that they had up and instead addressed the supply issues. And I think that is something that Oregonians need us to do as well.”

Oregon's Rent Control Reform Gains Momentum

Tenant advocacy groups are behind the bill because they believe some action is better than none.

“We want to thank Sen. [WInsvey] Campos and Sen. [Kayse] Jama for their work moving SB 611 forward. Even this narrowed bill will help the millions of Oregonians who rent their homes,” reads a statement provided by Stable Homes for Oregon Families.

The rule that, in the event of a no-cause eviction, landlords must pay the tenant three months’ rent in advance has also been removed. The current norm for relocation assistance is one month’s rent. Legislators have explained the changes as an effort to find the middle ground.

“Both housing providers and renters came to the table,” said Sen Jama. “Sometimes you just don’t agree.”

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A rent increase that Jessica Israel believes is racially motivated has prompted her to file a complaint with HUD. Since the certificates of occupancy for her building were granted less than 15 years ago, they are exempt from the existing rent maximum of 14.6%.

“Less than 15 years old doesn’t mean a Trump Tower luxury building. I received a rent increase of 32%,” she said. “I realized other residents (of the same building and owner) had 15% and I was the only one who got 32.”

She said she feels the slimmed-down version of the bill doesn’t amount to much more than “bending to the whim so that everyone can score some political points.”

A tweet about this news, posted by Christina Giardinelli, is available here.

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