Oregon lawmakers seek to reduce rent increases
SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - A new bill in the Oregon State Senate seeks to bring down rent increases, and expand the benefit to more renters.
Senate Bill 611 was presented in a public hearing Monday in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development.
If passed and signed into law, the SB 611 caps rent increases at 8% for all buildings other than those that are three years old or newer, or caps rent increases at 3% plus inflation, whichever is less. This is very different from current law which caps rent increases at 14.6% for all buildings except those that are 15 years old or newer. Tenants struggling to make ends meet made their voices heard to lawmakers Monday in the hearing about the sacrifices they have had to make just to pay rent.
“I’ve had to forgo medical treatment, less doctors appointments, and my family doesn’t eat anything we can’t buy without food stamps,” said James, a tenant in Portland. “We don’t take my kids out to the park because we can’t afford the gas.”
The bill also requires landlords to cover relocation expenses equal to three months’ rent if a tenant was evicted through no fault of their own such as a renovation or sale of a property. Other renters in Salem Monday pleaded for the legislature to reform renting laws.
“Myself and my neighbors are scared, stressed, and some have not been able to pay for the skyrocketing rent that’s coming toward us,” said Robin, a renter in a mobile home park in Brookings.
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But on the other side of the debate, advocates for landlords and housing providers say this dramatic change to renting laws in Oregon would actually worsen the housing crisis.
“Not only are we not going to have the 36,000 units a year that is Governor Kotek’s priority, but we are also going to continue to lose housing providers,” said Deborah Imse, Executive Director of Multifamily Northwest.
Imse testified against SB 611 at Monday’s hearing. She leads Multifamily Northwest, a group that advocates for landlords and housing providers. She says this bill will drive developers away from Oregon if it becomes law. She says for now, as developers try to keep up with the housing demand, the state should help those who need it most.
“It’s going to take some time to get more supply on the market, and in that interim period of time, there should be plenty of rent assistance for folks that are in that boat,” said Imse.
The next step for the bill is to have a work session in committee on Wednesday.
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