Oregon Becomes First to Pass Statewide Rent Control Law

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The Oregon legislature approved a bill limiting rent increases on Tuesday, leaving only Gov. Kate Brown’s signature before it becomes the first in the nation to have a statewide rent control law on the books. Her spokesperson told the New York Times she intends to sign the measure.

The bill limits rent increases to 7 percent per year, plus inflation, and requires landlords to have a reason for evicting tenants, according to The Oregonian. As you might expect, the bill is opposed by a national group representing the apartment industry—but the Oregon Rental Housing Association, which represents Oregon landlords, didn’t oppose the bill, with its legislative director telling the Times this week that he doesn’t “believe it will be catastrophic to our livelihood.”

Which makes you wonder just how significant the bill will be, particularly given the bill’s exemptions: It excludes new construction for 15 years, and landlords can raise rent as much as they like if the tenant leaves of their own accord. Landlords can often find ways to pressure tenants to leave “voluntarily,” with one study in Milwaukee finding that only 24 percent of forced mores were the result of formal evictions. But in some cases under the new bill, like if the landlord evicts tenants to preform renovations, the landlord must give 90 days’ notice and pay the tenant one month’s rent.


Rent control has had a tougher time in other states: A measure in California that would have repealed the state’s ban on local rent control ordinances was defeated by 62 to 38 percent in November, after a $75.9 million campaign by landlords.

Meanwhile, rents keep rising for the poor—even as the increases slow down at the higher end of the market. It’s almost like building thousands of “luxury” apartment buildings that all look the same doesn’t make housing more equitable. Imagine that.