PORTLAND, Ore. – Feb. 10, 2017 – Portland, Ore., city council members want to put a stop to landlords sticking renters with higher rents, and last week the city council approved a “relocation assistance” bill that is raising landlord eyebrows across the country.

What the new bill does: If a landlord raises the rent by more than 10 percent and doing so would force the renter to have to move, the landlord must pay the tenant between $2,900 to $4,500 in moving fees. The amount they pay the renter depends on the size of the original lease, and city council members say the amount would be sufficient to not only cover average moving costs but also first and last months’ rent, and a security deposit on a new unit.

City Council members say the new law would help prevent renters from getting stuck with higher rental costs that force them to move out, noting that 1,800 Portland residents are homeless and can’t find affordable housing.

“This notion could spread, especially to more progressive cities,” says Michael Vraa, a tenant advocacy attorney at Home Line in Minneapolis. “The vast majority of cities and states do not have rent control, and there is no legal limit on how much landlords can raise rent. In other words, one year your rent could be $2,000 … the next, $3,000.”

Portland’s ordinance is temporary and will expire once city officials declare the city’s “housing emergency” over.

Meanwhile, Portland building owners are threatening to sue the city council. They say the law will bankrupt small landlords who are raising costs to maintain their properties.

“What if heating costs rise? What if the property needed a new roof? What if property insurance has risen? Does the landlord eat these costs or is it only fair that the cost is shared?” asks Denise Supplee, a real estate professional, investor and co-founder of SparkRental. “It makes me mad that too often the landlord is vilified, when they are ordinary folks trying to make a living. I have seen my share of ridiculously tenant-friendly laws that can quickly put a landlord out of business, however this Portland one tops the list.”

Source: “New Law Keeps Landlords from Hiking the Rent, and You’ll Never Guess How,” realtor.com® (Feb. 8, 2017)

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