Landlords sue to block new Portland tenant protections
An organization representing landlords is filing a federal lawsuit to overturn a Portland ordinance intended to provide more housing options for renters.
Among other things, the Fair Access in Renting ordinance creates a first-come-first-served system for rental applications, caps the income-to-rent ratio landlords can require of their tenants, and places limits on the ability of landlords to turn down a potential renter because of their criminal and credit histories. It is scheduled to take effect on March 1.
But on Feb. 21, Multifamily NW announced is challenging the ordinance in U.S. District Court. A lawyer for the organization said the ordinance violate the Oregon and U.S. constitution, and will prompt many landlords to sell their rental properties, making affordable housing crisis worse.
The ordinance was approved by the City Council in June 2019. It was sponsored by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Portlanders deserve choice in housing," said Jill Gibson of Lynch Conger LLP. "We cannot expect private housing providers who provide middle and high-end housing to operate as affordable housing providers with none of the protections from additional risk. The ordinances are an unreasonable combination of being strict and vague. Many housing providers who are concerned they will misinterpret the ordinances and violate the new laws have already resolved to leaving the housing industry entirely, further crunching Portland's housing crisis."
"Without providing enough direction, the FAIR ordinance treats the serious processes of tenant screening and
security deposits as a kind of choose your-own adventure," said Deborah Imse, executive director of Multifamily NW. "This is unacceptable, as rental housing and finding a home is not a game to Portlanders. Portlanders deserve laws that are well-thought-out, that give enough clarity for renters to understand their
rights and enough direction for housing providers to be able to follow them."
Multifamily NW was founded in 1992 and the Metro Multifamily Housing Association to represent residential property managers, owners, and vendors throughout Oregon and Southern Washington, including Portland. Its members manage over 200,000 units.
You can learn more about the FAIR ordinance here.
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