City Council to vote on plan to make landlords pay tenants for no-cause evictions

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly proposed an ordinance Tuesday that would force landlords to pay moving costs for tenants in cases of no-cause evictions or rent increases of more than 10 percent in one year.

KATU's news partners at Willamette Week first reported Eudaly's proposal.

The ordinance, which also has support from Mayor Ted Wheeler, is intended to protect the nearly 50 percent of Portlanders who rent. The city says about half of the renters are cost-burdened.

“It utilizes really the only tool we have available to us to stabilize the rental market,” Eudaly said.

This is meant as a short-term, emergency ordinance, according to Eudaly.

“Through this ordinance we are trying to protect more people from being cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened and displaced from their homes or communities or ending up homeless,” she added.

There are two parts to the ordinance. A landlord may terminate a rental agreement without cause, but the landlord must pay between $2,900 and $4,500 to that tenant for moving costs within 14 days of receiving the eviction notice.

If a landlord raises rent more than 10 percent within a 12-month period and the tenant provides written notice that they intend to leave, then that landlord must pay the tenant between $2,900 and $4,500, depending on the size of the apartment.

The ordinance will go before City Council on Feb. 2. If passed it will take effect immediately. It will be in effect as long as the housing emergency, declared in October 2015, is in effect.

Eudaly says, “[They are} encouraging landlords to consider their role in our housing crisis and to make a wise business decision as to whether it is worth it to them to displace tenants through no-cause evictions or exorbitant rent increases will definitely help the situation.”

While Eudaly says some landlords have come forward to applaud the city, many others are against this ordinance.

John DiLorenzo, an attorney who represents landlords across Oregon, is opposed to it. He says this is an example of the city interfering with the rental market.

“My initial reaction is, that is rent control,” DiLorenzo said.

As of now, the state does not allow rent control.

As for the no-cause evictions, DiLorenzo says landlords only use them to kick out a bad tenant, not to raise rents. If they raise rents, they issue a rent increase notice.

The lawyer sees two effects should this ordinance pass. First, DiLorenzo says it may have the opposite of its intended effect.

“One unplanned-for result for many landlords (they) might just raise the rents annually just below the threshold and do that consistently instead of letting them lag like they normally do. That would encourage an acceleration of rent increases,” he said.

DiLorenzo says it may also force landlords to keep bad tenants, because evicting them would be like a reward, giving them between $2,900 and $4,500.

He says the landlord organizations he represents were not included in the formation of this ordinance. DiLorenzo suggests a rental assistance program paid for with tax-incentives as an alternative.

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