Lawmakers Move Rent Control a Step Closer to Reality

    The state’s 35-year ban on rent control is a step closer to disintegrating after the the Oregon House of Representatives narrowly passed House Bill 2004A today.

    In a 31 to 27 vote, representatives passed the bill, which would allow Oregon cities or counties to “implement rent stabilization” programs for rental units, meaning they could cap how much rents could be increased each year. The bill also would prohibit landlords from terminating month-to-month leases without cause after the first six months of occupancy “except under certain circumstances with 90 days’ written notice and payment amount equal to one month’s rent.”

    The bill’s original language referred to that payment amount as “relocation expenses,” but that phrase was omitted in a reworked version of the bill.

    Earlier this year, new Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly spearheaded a new policy in Portland that requires landlords to pay relocation expenses for tenants who are evicted without cause or who have to move because of a rent increase that tops 10 percent in a single year.

    In a release, the housing coalition Stable Homes for Oregon Families praised the bill’s passage, noting also that the legislation had been amended to exempt small landlords and reduce the relocation expenses. According to the Oregonian, Rep. Mark Meek, D-Gladstone, engineered some of the compromises in the bill.

    “Today’s vote in favor of HB 2004 is good news for Oregon communities,” said Pam Phan, policy and organizing director for the Community Alliance of Tenants, in the release. “This legislation creates certainty for renters and landlords by creating a legal standard for evictions with cause and lease termination. It also gives local jurisdictions the right to set their own rent stabilization policies, working with tenants and landlords in their communities.”

    The bill now moves on to the Oregon Senate for further consideration.

    What this means for real estate players could be big or innocuous, but being prepared could make all the difference.

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