Is it really rent control?

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On October 14, 2015 the city commissioners of the City of Portland unanimously voted to modify the laws that govern landlord / tenant relations in the City of Portland. Their stated objective was to help tenants manage the low city vacancy rates. These low vacancy rates are especially difficult for low income and disabled tenants to manage, because in order to move they need to save for moving costs, deposits and rent. Most low income tenants live from paycheck to paycheck (or public assistance check) and find it difficult to save enough money to move.

To help those tenants, the city commissioners passed the following additional renter protections.

• They extended no cause lease terminations from 30 and/or 60 days as established in the Oregon Landlord Tenant Law to 90 days.

• They limited rent and/or utility increases to five (5%) percent within a 12 month period if the tenant is given less than a 90 day notice of the increase.

• They put teeth into the enforcement section of this ordinance, penalizing a non-compliant landlord with an amount of up to three months’ rent as well as actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs.

The bottom line is that the city commissioners bought tenants more time to be able to get together the funds they need to move. They also preserved the rights of landlords to pass through rent increases, albeit with a longer lead time. The major downside for landlords with this new language is that if you have a problem tenant you need out right away, you will have to use a for cause notice.

I have attached the language as passed by the City of Portland and codified as section 30.01.085.

30.01.085 Portland Renter Additional Protections.
A. In addition to the protections set forth in the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, the following additional protections apply to Tenants that have a Rental Agreement for Premises covered by the Act. For purposes of this chapter, capitalized terms have the meaning set forth in the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

B. A Landlord may terminate a Rental Agreement without a cause specified in the Act only by delivering a written notice of termination to the Tenant of (a) not less than 90 days before the termination date designated in that notice as calculated under the Act; or A Better Real Estate Experience. Clifford A. Hockley is President of Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services, greater Portland’s full service real estate brokerage and property management company. Founded in 1972, Bluestone & Hockley’s staff totals nearly 110 employees, including 20 licensed brokers. The company’s property management division serves commercial buildings, apartments, condominium associations and houses in the Portland / Vancouver metro area, while the brokerage division facilitates both leasing and sales of investment properties throughout Oregon and Washington. Cliff earned a degree in Political Science from Claremont McKenna College and holds an MBA from Willamette University. He is a Certified Property Manager and has achieved his Certified Commercial Investment Member designation (CCIM). Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO) by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). Cliff is a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management and was named Certified Property Manager of the year in 2001 and 2003. Cliff is a frequent contributor to industry newsletters. Bluestone & Hockley offers customized brokerage, property and asset management, as well as maintenance services to property owners and investors throughout the Portland/Vancouver metro area. The company’s full-service approach benefits busy property owners and investors, who know they can count on Bluestone & Hockley for high quality real estate services start to finish. 503-222-3800 (b) the time period designated in the Rental Agreement, whichever is longer. This requirement does not apply to Rental Agreements for week-to week tenancies or to Tenants that occupy the same Dwelling Unit as the Landlord.

C. A Landlord may not increase a Tenant’s Rent or Associated Housing Costs by 5 percent or more over a 12 month period unless the Landlord gives notice in writing to each affected Tenant: (a) at least 90 days prior to the effective date of the rent increase; or (b) the time period designated in the Rental Agreement, whichever is longer. Such notice must specify the amount of the increase, the amount of the new Rent or Associated Housing Costs and the date, as calculated under the Act, when the increase becomes effective.

D. A Landlord that fails to comply with any of the requirements set forth in this section 30.01.085 shall be liable to the Tenant for an amount up to three months’ Rent as well as actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs (collectively, “Damages”). Any Tenant claiming to be aggrieved by a Landlord’s noncompliance with the foregoing has a cause of action in any court of competent jurisdiction for Damages and such other remedies as may be appropriate.