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Rent Regulation Defeated in Oregon, But Spreading Elsewhere

Rent Regulation Portland

As attempts to roll back state preemption of rent control statutes increase, NAA’s Oregon affiliate, Multifamily NW has scored a significant victory in July by defeating legislation that would place limitations on rent increases in the state.

HB2004, as introduced, would enact cause-evictions and confer on local governments the authority to enact rent control. The measure went through a lengthy round of deliberations in the Senate, that even went so far as removing the section that would repeal rent control preemption; however, the Senate still could not obtain the votes necessary to pass the legislation.

Even though this battle has been won, the fight against rent regulation continues to be waged elsewhere across the country.

While much of the focus has been on rent regulation coming to Portland, Ore., apartment owners in Portland, Maine face a contentious rent control ballot measure. “Fair Rent Portland” has been organizing and collected the requisite number of signatures (1,500) for the voter initiative. Initially, it appeared that a clerical error would keep the measure from being placed on November’s ballot because of a city code requirement that a public hearing be held 90 days prior to a vote; however, the city attorney discovered that the ordinance requiring a 90-day pre-election public hearing by the City Council was not enacted legally in 2011.

So, the original 60-day window for ballot measures is in fact in effect, which means the referendum, that would amend Chapter 6 of the City Code to cap annual rental increases, will head to the voters in November. That being said, a coalition of property owners, contractors and other groups has formed a political action committee called “Say No To Rent Control”in opposition to the ballot measure.

Mandatory inclusionary zoning proposals are proliferating at the local level. The Philadelphia City Council is considering Bill Number 170678, a proposed mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance. The measure requires that a developer set-aside 10 percent of the units in new construction, and that the units would be maintained as affordable for at least 99 years on the same site as the residential housing project. The legislation differentiates on the Area Median Income (AMI) requirements for the “core metropolitan district” which are 50 percent of AMI, and elsewhere in the city that has a 30 percent AMI requirement.

Out west in Big Sky Country, a voluntary inclusionary zoning ordinance that was passed by the Bozeman City Commission in 2015 is set to switch to a mandatory program because the voluntary measure did not produce the number of units outlined in the law. While the statute is currently limited to single family properties, the Bozeman’s planning director has indicated he would like to see affordability addressed in the rental market.

The increasing trend of state and local governments looking to enact rent regulation is a concern for NAA and its affiliates. To equip NAA members with legislative resources, and information on these schemes, a rent control resource (member log-in required) page is available, which includes background information in the form of fact sheets and almanacs, 50-state charts on the relevant laws, policy statements, and other resources. In addition to the new web page, NAA staff can provide talking points and other informational documents upon request.

For more information, please contact Robert Melvin, Manager of Government Affairs, if a state bill or local proposal to address rent regulation comes up locally.