On February 20, 2020, Multifamily NW made the following announcement:
Dear Members of Multifamily NW,
Today, Multifamily NW took a stand against Portland’s failed housing policies. As of February 20, 2020, we have filed a lawsuit to stop and repeal the FAIR ordinance with the United States District Court, for the District of Oregon, Portland Division.
As many of you know, Portland City Council passed the FAIR ordinance last June after a hostile and broken policy development process facilitated by the Rental Services Commission. The ordinance is set to take effect on March 1. The chief proponent of the ordinance, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, would later make the statement, “We know it will take time for tenants to understand and for the industry to adjust. We know some fine-tuning will be necessary. But we also know that research and data have laid a solid foundation for the decisions we made.”
Economic data and industry research were not a part of that solid foundation. Representatives of the rental housing provider community, including Multifamily NW, could play only a symbolic role in the development of the FAIR ordinance. Despite being regularly attending members of the Rental Services Commission and in good standing, our collaboration on this major policy initiative was consistently rejected.
At the time of adoption, Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council had committed to fixing the glaring errors in the ordinance during the administrative rulemaking process before the law was to be implemented. It’s now clear that commitment will not be honored, and Portland housing providers will be forced to comply with a broken law.
Since June, Multifamily NW’s members and staff have worked around the clock to make sure our housing provider members are prepared to meet the sweeping administrative demands created by the FAIR ordinance. The Multifamily NW’s Forms Committee has volunteered dozens of hours of their personal time to collaborate with Multifamily staff and legal counsel to craft the additional forms needed to comply with the FAIR ordinance.
With the Rental Services Commission providing only a slow drip of inconsistent and outright perplexing information pertaining to the legal compliance requirements of the ordinance, it became clear that the administrative rulemaking process was not going to fix this ordinance. Further action is required to protect Portland’s housing providers and renters from the clearly disastrous impacts of the FAIR ordinance.
We want to thank all our members who have worked so diligently throughout this process. Thank you for hours spent trying to guide the Rental Services Commission away from bad housing policy, speaking up at Portland City Council’s public hearings in opposition to the FAIR ordinance in front of a hostile crowd of activists and helping guide our legal actions against the city.
We look forward to a positive outcome for our members in this fight and for the future of rental housing in Portland. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.