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L.L. Bean Boots on the Ground with the Maine Apartment Association

The industry picked up both wins and losses in Maine’s rent regulation battle.

Voters in Portland, Maine recently struck down legislation to cap rent increases and make it more difficult for owners to evict residents locally – otherwise known as Question 1. The measure remained of concern to NAA and local affiliate Maine Apartment Association due to local advocacy from Fair Rent Portland, which gave the measure increased momentum leading up to election day. Despite this, owners emerged victorious when 64 percent of Portland citizens voted against the proposal.

In addition to local action, Representative Nathan Wadsworth (R-Hiram) introduced LR 2624, state level legislation to prevent cities from enacting rent control ordinances. Statewide preemption would be another win for the industry, but MAA has faced an uphill battle. Because the Maine legislature is entering a budget year, the legislation must undergo a complicated process before it can be considered by the House and Senate.

First, the bill must be approved by the Maine Legislative Council, which consists of 10 elected members from legislative leadership. If a simple majority does not give the bill approval to advance, then it will not be introduced for the budget year session. To assist in MAA’s efforts on the ground, NAA worked with MAA staff and leadership to advocate for Rep. Wadworth’s proposed statewide ban and garner support from the Legislative Council. NAA and MAA developed an advocacy plan and worked together to meet with members of the Legislative Council individually and deliver collateral to members’ offices, asking the legislators to support LR 2624.

While the proposal was initially rejected by the Maine Legislative Council along party lines with a 5-5 vote, the resounding defeat of Portland’s rent control ballot measure led to reconsideration by Democratic members who initially opposed the measure. Encouraged by these policymakers, Representative Wadsworth is appealing the initial decision on LR 2624 so that it may be reconsidered by the Council. Because of the groundswell of support for his proposal from MAA and members of the Council, Representative Wadsworth continues to push forward and ensure the preemption bill receives a favorable outcome from the Maine Legislative Council. The outcome of the bill remains pending.

Special thanks to MAA and the immediate past Secretary for the organization, Abby Kimball, for their endeavors and in working collaboratively with NAA on this issue. Because of these efforts, pre-emption of local rent control ordinances has another chance to be considered for next year’s legislative session in Maine.

For more information, please contact Robert Melvin, Manager of Government Affairs.