Tenant protections bill heads to Senate with uncertain future
SALEM — A legislative committee has approved a tenant protections bill for a vote by the Oregon Senate, where it faces an uncertain fate.
The Senate Rules Committee voted 3-to-2 Wednesday, June 28, to send House Bill 2004 to the Senate floor. After House approval in April, the proposal was repeatedly pared down in the Senate in an effort to persuade Republicans and a few Democratic holdouts to support it.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said she was still working to glean enough votes to pass the measure in her chamber.
Sen. Rod Monroe, a key Democratic vote to win passage in the Senate, opposes the measure because it outlaws no-cause evictions, according to his office. Monroe, a landlord and former educator from Portland, has said he would support the bill if the ban on no-cause evictions were removed.
The ban on no-cause evictions is meant to combat mass evictions done for the sake of making large and quit profits in the state's tight rental market.
But some landlords have testified that they need no-cause evictions to remove problem tenants in cases where they lack documentation or evidence admissable in court.
The Senate Rules Committee also adopted an amendment to the bill proposed by Burdick Wednesday.
The changes ban no-cause evictions after a tenant has lived in a residence on a month-to-month rental agreement for at least 12 months. During the 12-month trial period, a landlord may not evict a tenant without cause if the tenant requested a repair for habitability or code violations within the previous 60 days. That provision is meant to deter retaliatory evictions, said Alison McIntosh, deputy director of policy for Neighborhood Partnerships.
Landlords may evict tenants who are on month-to-month rental agreements with 90 days' notice for one of four landlord business-related reasons. In the case of a landlord business-related reason, the landlord will be required to pay the tenant the equivalent of one month's rent for relocation assistance, unless the landlord owns less than five units.
The bill requires a minimum of six months for a fixed-term lease. Landlords may evict tenants without cause at the end of a fixed-term lease, so long as they give the tenant at least 90 days' notice. Under existing law, tenants on fixed-term leases receive no notice about whether the landlord intends to renew the lease, McIntosh noted.
The proposal also allows landlords to increase rent no more than once per year.
The amendment "strikes a balance between protecting tenants and property rights," McIntosh said Wednesday.
"Tenants across the state, whether in rural, urban, or suburban towns have told us that they urgently need the protections of the bill, and need relief in the housing crisis that is all too real. In a state with a record number of students experiencing homelessness, is imperative that the Legislature act now to pass HB 2004B," she said.