Oregon Is First to Enact Statewide Rent Control Protections.

AuthorLays, Julie

Oregon lawmakers recently passed legislation that limits landlords across the state from raising rents more than 7% annually, plus any increase in the cost of living. It exempts landlords of buildings with fewer than five units or whose properties have had renters for less than 15 years.

The law also requires landlords to have a valid reason for evicting tenants. However, when a tenant chooses to leave, landlords may raise the rent above the limit for the next tenant.

California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York also have rent control laws, but Oregon is the first to go statewide with the regulations. At least 10 states have considered new controls this year.

Thirty-two states prohibit such measures. Most states bar cities from capping rent increases, though New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco have had limits for several years.

Supporters say rent controls help address the growing costs of housing. Oregon's median rent is up more than 14% since 2011; in Portland, it's more like 30%, when adjusted for inflation.

"This groundbreaking tenant protection bill will make a real difference for Oregon renters," House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) said after it passed the House.

Opponents disagree. The laws may assist lower-income renters initially, they say, but experience shows that rent controls only worsen problems in the long run. If landlords are limited in what they can charge, they are more likely to take properties off the market or raise rents disproportionately for new renters. In addition, there's little consensus on the bill's effect on rural areas.


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