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Oregon passes first mandatory rent control law in US

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon signed the nation’s first statewide mandatory rent control measure on Thursday, giving a victory to housing advocates who say spiraling rent costs in the economically booming state have fueled widespread homelessness and housing insecurity.

Ms. Brown, a Democrat, said the legislation will provide “some immediate relief to Oregonians struggling to keep up with rising rents and a tight rental market.”

Landlords are now limited to increases once per year that cannot exceed 7 percent plus the change in the consumer price index, which is used to calculate inflation.

The law prohibits them serving no-cause evictions after a tenant’s first year of occupancy, a provision designed to protect those who are living paycheck to paycheck and who affordable housing advocates say are often most vulnerable to sudden rent hikes and abrupt lease terminations.

New York has a statewide rent control law, but cities can choose whether to participate. California restricts the ability of cities to impose rent control. Last November, voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have overturned that law.

The Oregon law takes effect immediately. Democrats who control the Legislature say the state’s housing crisis justified passing the bill as an emergency measure.

In hearings for the bill passed, tenants testified that they have struggled to keep up with skyrocketing rents, with many said they’ve been forced from their homes. Kori Sparks, a resident of the fast-growing city of Bend, said she relies on disability and has “to deal with the stress of losing an accessible home on short notice.”

She said rent control will protect vulnerable people from “a predatory system where profit comes before people and denies them of a basic human right.”

Builders in Oregon have not been able to construct enough houses and apartments to meet the demands of the thousands of people moving to the state for jobs and in some cases, for a lower cost of living. Many people move to the state from California.

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