'I was brought to tears': Tenants at Portland apartment complex face 100% rent hike

PORTLAND, Ore. – Tenants in The Normandy Apartments in Northeast Portland are facing a rent increase of 100 percent on April 1, which will force many of them to move.

A notice shared with KATU showed one tenant’s rent increasing from $750 per month to $1,550 per month.

READ MORE: Steep rent increase may force 40 NE Portland elementary students to move

“I was brought to tears. It was worrisome for me and my kids, stressful. You don't know if you are going to have a place to live in a couple months,” said Jennifer Bollinger, a mother of three who has lived at The Normandy Apartments for seven years.

Bollinger says she will need to move, but feels lucky because they may have a place to go. She says others in her community may go homeless.

The property at 4607 NE Killingsworth Street was purchased in December 2016 for nearly $2 million. KATU reached out to manager Ira Virden via phone and email but have not heard back.

First Class Management LLC, a locally-based property management firm, operates the property and took over at the beginning of the year. Tom Minnaert, owner of First Class Management, says the landlord is raising rent to pay for renovations.

“Yes the rents were low, but the property was in poor condition,” Minnaert said.

Bollinger and other tenants admit the property is in poor condition. The roof is currently being repaired. Minnaert says they will put in new floors, carpet, cabinets, counter tops, faucets, fixtures, lights, and more.

“Pretty much the whole deal to make them brand new apartments," Bollinger said.

Minnaert says the new rent will reflect the market value for new apartments in the area.

Tenants will need to reapply if they would like to stay after the rent goes up. Minnaert says some have expressed interest in staying and are encouraged to stay. When asked if current tenants will have an advantage in their rental application, Minnaert says they will take them on a case by case basis.

Tenants who are forced to leave may get some reprieve if an emergency ordinance passes Portland city council on Feb. 2. The landlord may be forced to pay those renters between $2,900 and $4,500 for moving costs.

Margot Black, founder of Portland Tenants United, called this rent increase reprehensible and “stunning evidence of how broken the system is."

“We shouldn't enter into business arrangements that do massive amounts of harm to communities and families and kids,” Black said.

Students at nearby Rigler Elementary School who live at the Normandy Apartments may be forced to move schools. Portland Public Schools has a district policy that would allow a student who moves to stay in that school till the highest grade (in this case, fifth grade), but a district spokesperson says many of them probably won’t. Bollinger hopes her son will be able to stay at Rigler.

“There is certainly nowhere they are all able to rehouse together, in the same community, not in the same building, not in the same block, not in the same neighborhood,” Black said

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