“The imposition of rent control on housing in the State of Oregon is a matter of statewide concern.”
By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog
(February 12, 2016) – There has been a lot of talk about rent control in Portland, Ore. However, the Oregon legislature has found that the imposition of general restrictions on housing rents will disrupt an orderly housing market, increase deferred maintenance of existing housing stock, lead to abandonment of existing rental units and create a property tax shift from rental-owned to owner-occupied housing and has made it illegal for rent control within the state. And on the Portland Housing Bureau web site, the City posts, “The City of Portland doesn’t have any legal authority to regulate private market rents. Rent Control, a tool used in other cities to cap how much private owners can increase rents, is prohibited by Oregon state law.”
It’s a complicated issue and one that’s not going to be easily solved. While we surely haven’t heard the end of this argument, here’s current Oregon law:
Local rent control prohibited
(1) The Legislative Assembly finds that there is a social and economic need to insure an adequate supply of affordable housing for Oregonians. The Legislative Assembly also finds that the imposition of general restrictions on housing rents will disrupt an orderly housing market, increase deferred maintenance of existing housing stock, lead to abandonment of existing rental units and create a property tax shift from rental-owned to owner-occupied housing. Therefore, the Legislative Assembly declares that the imposition of rent control on housing in the State of Oregon is a matter of statewide concern.
(2) Except as provided in subsections (3) to (5) of this section, a city or county shall not enact any ordinance or resolution which controls the rent that may be charged for the rental of any dwelling unit.
(3) This section does not impair the right of any state agency, city, county or urban renewal agency as defined by ORS 457.035 (Urban renewal agencies) to reserve to itself the right to approve rent increases, establish base rents or establish limitations on rents on any residential property for which it has entered into a contract under which certain benefits are applied to the property for the expressed purpose of providing reduced rents for low income tenants. Such benefits include, but are not limited to, property tax exemptions, long-term financing, rent subsidies, code enforcement procedures and zoning density bonuses.
(4) Cities and counties are not prohibited from including in condominium conversion ordinances a requirement that, during the notification period specified in ORS 100.305 (Conversion condominium), the owner or developer may not raise the rents of any affected tenant except by an amount established by ordinance that does not exceed the limit imposed by ORS 90.493 (Prohibited acts following notice of conversion to condominium).
(5) Cities, counties and state agencies may impose temporary rent controls when a natural or man-made disaster that materially eliminates a significant portion of the rental housing supply occurs, but must remove the controls when the rental housing supply is restored to substantially normal levels.
(6) As used in this section, dwelling unit and rent have the meaning given those terms in ORS 90.100 (Definitions).
(7) This section is applicable throughout this state and in all cities and counties therein. The electors or the governing body of a city or county shall not enact, and the governing body shall not enforce, any ordinance, resolution or other regulation that is inconsistent with this section. [1985 c.335 §2; 2007 c.705 §3]
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