Oregon Becomes First US State to Pass Rent Control

SALEM, Ore. (CN) – Legislation passed by Oregon lawmakers Tuesday will restrict increases in rent and prevent landlords from evicting tenants without cause after one year, with a few exceptions.

Supporters of a bill to ban most no-cause evictions of home renters in Oregon demonstrate on the Capitol steps in Salem in this April 12, 2017 file photo. (AP/Andrew Selsky)

Senate Bill 608 bars landlords from raising rent by more than 7 percent annually. It also blocks no-cause evictions after one year.

There are exceptions: If a landlord has issued at least three warnings within one year, they may evict a tenant with 90 days notice and one month of free rent. Landlords managing four or fewer units won’t have to provide the free month. 

The bill passed in the state House on Tuesday, after state senators voted to approve the measure Feb. 12. Gov. Kate Brown has said she will sign the bill into law. Once signed, the bill takes effect immediately.

Advocates say the new law is necessary in a state where rent has increased by 14 percent and there are too few rental units available to meet demand from a steady influx of new residents.

Representative Tiffiny Mitchell said Tuesday the bill would help rural renters just as much as those in Portland.

“As someone who has spent the last year talking to countless rural Oregonian tenants about the stress they face every day from a rental market in crisis, I know how critical this legislation is toward helping them find the stability they deserve, Mitchell said.

But critics claim the move will ultimately hurt renters by making it more expensive to be a landlord.

Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal said rent control will encourage landlords to invest in more expensive units and set higher rents to begin with.

“It’s a great tragedy that Oregon’s renters cannot see that the housing problems are caused by government and these armies of people that are running taxes up,” Buchal said. “But, according to this legislation, it’s all the landlords’ fault now.”

Oregon Representative Mark Meek brushed off the idea that the new law would deter landlords.

“I am a landlord and will remain one after this bill becomes law,” Meek said in a statement. “Becoming a property manager in Oregon in a great investment and providing fair protection to renters with Senate Bill 608 does not change that.”

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