Portland City Council considering major changes to rental applications, landlord screenings

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Portland City Council is considering major changes when it comes to tenants applying for rental properties and how their applications would be screened by landlords.

The new policy is called Fair Access in Renting and commissioners heard details about the plan during Wednesday afternoon’s council meeting.

On Thursday, they will hear public testimony from both sides.

Details of the proposals can be found here:

It would require landlords to give a 72-hour notice before taking applications for a rental property, and would require them to then process those applications on a first-come first-serve basis, rather than picking through a stack of applications to pick someone of their choosing.

Caps would also be set on security deposits, and guidelines would be established for how landlords could use those funds.

It sets guidelines for traditional barriers to renting, like income ratios, low credit scores, and even criminal histories.

For instance, a person could not be denied solely based on the fact that they have a felony conviction older than seven years or a misdemeanor conviction older than three years.

The new policy would require landlords to choose one of two options: either adopt the new low-barrier guidelines set forth by the city or opt for an individualized assessment, set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and supported by the Federal Fair Housing Act.

If a landlord denies an applicant under the individualized assessment criteria, the landlord must provide the basis for denial, what supplemental evidence was considered in making the determination and “an explanation of the legitimate, non-discriminatory business interest of the Landlord that justified denial of the application…”

In city council Wednesday, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly wanted to set the record straight about what she called misinformation circulating about the proposal.

“We are not forcing landlords to rent to people with criminal records,” she said.

“Our proposed policy does not force landlords to rent to anyone or remove a landlord’s purview over who lives on their property,” affirmed Eudaly’s Policy Director, Jamey Duhamel. “It is against state law for us to do so.”

The organization Multifamily NW has come out in opposition to the policy, writing: “While at first glance these policy proposals seek to help potential residents, the unfortunate reality of these well-intentioned proposals present a confusing web of burdens and hurdles to an already highly regulated application process and security deposit protocol.”

Testimony from the public will be heard in council chambers starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 4.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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