Oregon First in Nation to Pass Statewide Rent Control
Oregon passed the nation’s first-ever statewide rent control, yet debate still swirls as to whether it will do more harm than good.
In a 35-25 vote on Tuesday, Oregon became the first state in the country to approve statewide rent control. The final hurdle is a signature from Oregon’s governor Kate Brown who has said she would sign the measure.
The vote passed in a state legislature controlled by Democrats was largely split by party lines, with three Democrats joining Republicans to vote no.
Oregon Rent Control – What Was the Debate?
According to a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), both Republican and Democratic state legislators agreed that Oregon had a housing crisis but disagreed as to the solution. Republicans argued a statewide rent control could be disastrous to the rural district, a region that Republicans typically represent whereas Democrats tend to represent the more urban areas.
“We have a housing crisis across the state, but it can’t be fixed with one-size-fits-all solution,” argued Oregon Republican Rep. Gary Leif, adding later, “We do not need, do not want and believe this legislation will harm the citizens of southern Oregon.”
Oregon Rep. Jack Zika asked for more information on how the new rent control measures would affect rural areas, to which he was told there was no data, as OPB reported.
“Why would we impose this on people if we don’t know the outcome?” Zika said. “This could be drastic and harm our rural areas.”
Democrats countered that citizens were “living on the edge, one rent spike away from being homeless” and countered that the measure was a fair compromise.
“In an ideal world, I wish [this bill] went further and feel this isn’t enough,” said Democrat Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, but added it’s a “fair, reasonable, compromise that will be manageable for the majority of landlords.”
Democrats also portrayed the bill as an anti-price gouging bill and not the “rent control of yesteryear,” as Democrat Rep. Mark Meek called it. “It’s a smart, innovative hybrid,” he added.
What does Oregon’s Rent Control Bill Do?
Once approved, Oregon’s bill will cap rent increases at seven percent per year, plus the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The bill will also prevent landlords from evicting tenants who have lived in their building for more than one year without citing a reason. As long as a landlord cites a reason, such as violating a lease or not paying rent they can still remove a tenant. Some landlord based reasons, such as the landlord moving in or a major renovation, could still force a tenant’s eviction.
The bill also keeps intact a 1982 ban on cities implementing their own more restrictive rent control policies.