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City Council will consider ordinance requiring landlords to pay relocation assistance ranging from $2,900 to $4,500 for no cause evictions and moves caused by high rent increases.

Landlord lobbyist John DiLorenzo says there will be unintended consequences of the City Council requires landlord to pay the relocation costs of tenants subject to no-caused evictions.

The council will consider an ordinance requiring landlord to pay between $2,900 and $4,500 to tenants evicted without being formally accused of doing anything wrong. The same payments must be made to tenants who chose to move if their rent is increased more than 10 percent in 12 months.

The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in response to Portland's affordable housing crisis. It states that such evictions are increasing homelessness.

But DiLorenzo, a lawyer who represents the Equitable Housing PAC, says landlords frequently use no-cause evictions to remove tenants causing problem for other tenants who are unwilling or afraid to testify against them at eviction hearings. If the ordinance passes, such tenants are likely to remain in their units and continue causing problems because landlords will not pay such high relocation costs to evict them.

"I really don't think this ordinance is very well thought out," DiLorenzo told the Portland Tribune. Examples he said were based on real life scenarios include drug dealers who have not been arrested and tenants who harass or threaten other renters.

But Eudaly says such cases are rare compared to the much larger number of tenants the ordinance will help. She noted that all tenants in three apartment buildings in Portland are currently facing eviction or steep rent increases because of planned remodeling projects.

"The fact is, the situation has been going on for years and no one has done anything serious to solve it," says Eudaly, who was elected to the council last year after running on a platform that prioritized addressing the affordable housing crisis.

DiLorenzo also says the ordinance violates the currently statewide ban on local rent control programs. An opinion issued by the Legislative Counsel last year said requiring such payments is legal. But DiLorenzo argues that if they effectively end all no-cause evictions, they will amount to an illegal defacto rent control program.

DiLorenzo says he will probably challenge the ordinance in court if the council approves it, although the 2017 Oregon Legislature that convenes on Wednesday is expected to consider repealing the statewide ban against local rent control programs.

According to the proposed ordinance, the required relocation assistance is intended to cover such charges as deposits, double rents, and moving costs. They were determined by averaging the range of rental rates of similarly sized units across the city. The payments would be $2,900 for a studio or single room occupancy unit, $3,300 for a one-bedroom unit, $4,200 for a two-bedroom unit, and $4,500 for a three-bedroom or larger dwelling unit.

Because the ordinance was introduced by two members of the council, only one more vote is needed to pass it. The ordinance also has an emergency clause, meaning it will take effectively immediately after being approved.

To read a previous Portland Tribune story on the proposed ordinance, visit tinyurl.com/j38mnmm.

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