Portland approved new rules Wednesday that require landlords to give more notice to renters when raising rents or evicting them without cause.
The City Council unanimously approved the rules, which Commissioner Dan Saltzman said don’t go far enough but “provide a safety valve” for tenants facing unprecedented rent increases and low vacancy rates citywide.
During the third quarter of 2015, Portland saw 15.4 percent rent hikes and 3.2 percent vacancy levels, according to city records.
“I wish we could push these protections even further,” said Commissioner Nick Fish, citing state laws that bar cities from enacting tighter rules. “Much of that is out of our control.”
Starting next month, landlords will be required to give 90 days’ written notice to tenants when raising rents by 5 percent or more, or when evicting residents without cause. Currently, most landlords are required to give just 30 days’ notice, the state minimum, when terminating a lease or raising rent.
If landlords don’t follow the rules, tenants could be owed “an amount up to three months rent as well as actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs,” according to city documents.
Mayor Charlie Hales said Portland has to try new things. Some 200,000 new residents are expected during the next 20 years, he said. “Are we going to be San Francisco at that point or Portland? That’s what these issues come down to,” Hales said.
Saltzman said not all landlords are bad actors, but he thinks no-cause evictions are being “abused.” He promised to return next year with a review and evaluation of the new policy.
— Andrew Theen