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Council votes to make landlords pay eviction relocation costs
After a lengthy hearing, the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Thursday to require landlords to pay relocation costs for "involuntary displacement of tenants."
The costs must be paid to tenants who receive no-cause evictions or choose to move after their rents are raised 10 percent or more within 12 months. They range from $2,900 to $4,500 per move.
It expires in October at the end of the current Housing State of Emergency declared by the council, unless it is extended.
John DiLorenzo, a lawyer representing Multifamily Northwest and other landlords, said he will file suit to block it in Mulnomah County Circuit Court as soon as possible. DiLorenzo says the payment requirement will effectively eliminate all no-cause evictions, a form of rent control that violates the existing statewide ban against local measures. The council will lobby the 2017 Oregon Legislature to repeal the ban.
DiLorenzo says he will seek an injunction to prevent the ordinance from taking effect. He predicts it could be heard in 10 to 15 days.
Several landlords testified against the policy, with some saying they would not have purchased their rental properties if they have known it was coming.
"We feel that this bill was passed in haste and without proper market analysis," real estate broker Gary Winkler said after the vote.
More than 100 people signed up to testify on the ordinance, and, despite time limits on speakers, the comment period lasted around six hours. The vote finally happened just after 8 p.m.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced the ordinance. Eudaly has been a champion for tenants rights and hit the ground running on making changes in that area when she was elected to the council last year.
"I've been living and breathing affordable housing and tenants rights issues for the past two years," Eudaly said. "It's what inspired me to run for City Council and in no small part why I was elected, because the fact is that the majority of Portlanders support rent stabilization and tenants protections."
Eudaly said the housing crisis has been growing for 10 years and now is the time to make changes to improve protections.
"This is a temporary emergency ordinance is intended to stabilize or assist renters at risk of involuntary displacement during our housing crisis," Eudaly said.
The ordinance requires landlords to pay relocation assistance intended to cover such charges as deposits, double rents, and moving costs. The charges 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.
The policy takes effect immediately and applies to all tenants, including those who have received a 90-day eviction notice within the last 89 days. Landlords who rent only one dwelling in Portland will be exempt. The council added that exemption at Commissioner Amanda Fritz's request over Eudaly's objection.
The council admitted the new policy might have unintended consequences and unanimously approved a motion by Commissioner Nick Fish to create a panel made up of tenants, landlords and others to study its effects and propose improvements. It will initially be placed in the Portland Housing Bureau and eventually move to a new Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs that Mayor Ted Wheeler has proposed.
Portland Tenants United organized a rally before the council meeting with dozens of people supporting the ordinance.
To read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue, visit portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/342698-222955-landlords-warns-of-unintended-consequences-of-required-renter-relocation-assistance.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Jim Redden contributed to this story.