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Oregon House committee approves rent control, eviction protections; bill headed for floor vote

February 21, 2019 10:38 AM | Anonymous

By Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive

A proposal for statewide rent control is headed for a vote on the Oregon House floor, its final obstacle before it goes to a supportive governor for her signature.

The House Committee On Human Services and Housing voted along party lines to advance Senate Bill 608, a priority for leaders of the Democratic majority in both chambers of the Legislature.

Republican members of the committee proposed several changes to the legislation, including removal of an emergency clause that moves up the bill’s effective date and a proposal to allow cities to opt in to the policy. Democratic members of the committee rejected those proposals, sending to to the floor as-is.

The bill would cap annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state. Annual increases in the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, for Western states has ranged from just under 1 percent to 3.6 percent over the past five years.

The rent increase restrictions would exempt new construction for 15 years, and landlords would be free to raise rent without any cap if renters leave of their own accord. Subsidized rent would also be exempt.

The bill also would require most landlords to cite a cause, such as failure to pay rent or other lease violation, when evicting renters after the first year of tenancy.

Some “landlord-based” for-cause evictions would be allowed, including the landlord moving in or a major renovation. In those cases, landlords would have to provide 90 days’ notice and pay one month’s rent to the tenant, though landlords with four or fewer units would be exempt from the payment.

The bill wouldn’t lift the state ban on cities implementing their own, more restrictive rent control policies.

With the bill’s expected passage, Oregon would become the first state to enact a statewide rent control program. In other states with rent control policies, cities enact and administer local programs.

-- Elliot Njus

enjus@oregonian.com; 503-294-5034; @enjus

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