Oregon Senate Approves Statewide Rent Control

2/12/2019 By 

The Oregon Senate on Tuesday approved a proposal for a first-of-its-kind statewide rent control policy, as well as new restrictions on evictions without cause. Senate Bill 608 now heads to the Oregon House, where it’s expected to have an equally friendly reception. With the bill’s expected passage, Oregon would become the first state to enact a statewide rent control program. In other states with rent control policies, cities enact and administer local programs.

The bill would cap annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state. Annual increases in the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, for Western states has ranged from just under 1 percent to 3.6 percent over the past five years. The bill also would require most landlords to cite a cause, such as failure to pay rent or other lease violation, when evicting renters after the first year of tenancy.

Some “landlord-based” for-cause evictions would be allowed, including the landlord moving in or a major renovation. In those cases, landlords would have to provide 90 days’ notice and pay one month’s rent to the tenant, though landlords with four or fewer units would be exempt from the payment.

Opponents argued rent control would scare off investors and decrease the supply of rental housing, driving rents higher in the long run. (That’s a view shared by most economists.) “I appreciate the hard work and the good intentions of the proponents of this rent control bill,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend. But, he added, “The most likely outcome of this bill is negative consequences for the very people the proponents want to help.”

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