Oregon Governor Signs Rent Control Law

Oregon Governor Signs Rent Control Law

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed legislation that creates a new statewide rent control law, the first of its kind in the nation. The law, which caps annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state, will go into effect immediately. The rent increase restrictions exempt new construction for 15 years, and landlords may raise rent without any cap if renters leave of their own accord. Subsidized rent also is exempt.

While Brown said lawmakers and the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department should report back on how the bill is working during the 2021 legislative session, some are already voicing their objections to the law.

Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a Washington, D.C.-based association representing the apartment industry, predicts that it “will worsen the imbalance between housing supply and demand by allowing for rent control across the state.”

“While the intent of rent control laws is to assist lower-income populations, history has shown that rent control exacerbates shortages, makes it harder for apartment owners to make upgrades and disproportionally benefits higher-income households.

“That is why Oregon and a majority of other states have laws in place that explicitly prohibit local municipalities from implementing rent control laws. Reversing course is counterproductive and will not solve the crisis.

“Oregon lawmakers should focus on holistic solutions that encourage more housing supply, facilitate public-private partnerships to tackle many of the existing barriers, and increase direct assistance to renters.”

Robert Pinnegar, CAE, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, called it a “regrettable action [that] will lead to unintended, but pre-eminently predictable negative consequences for housing affordability in the state.”

“Rather than focusing on the onerous regulatory environment that constricts the diversity of housing needed to meet the surging demand for rental housing, Oregon’s public officials chose to slide backward by enacting a failed policy that has historically proven to hurt residents and housing supply alike. The National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council will continue to promote sustainable, responsible solutions that lead to more apartment construction, and oppose reckless and ill-advised policy approaches like rent control.”