2016 The Year In Review
And why you will continue to need us for many years into the future!
A Zillow report released in spring found that our area was among the top five “hottest” rental markets in the nation. Rent increases were high, housing supply remains low, employment remains high and the odds of anything changing quickly is low.
Our close association with Multifamily NW helped develop the Equitable Housing PAC. Our first goal is to raise significant funds to provide support for legislative candidates who see things our way. They must realize that the radical changes proposed are foolhardy as they only disrupt the market and produce absurd and harmful results for everyone. Two harmful bills were defeated in the last short-session of the legislature, although we do expect tenant advocates to reintroduce these issues in the 2017 legislative session. Included in these victories for us were defeating the requirement that landlords pay the tenant relocation assistance of one month’s rent, the presumption of retaliatory actions within 6 months after a tenant’s report regarding maintenance and language regarding unreasonable harassment of a tenant by a landlord.
As eventually agreed to as “Good”, Inclusionary Zoning was viewed as not being rent control, but grants certain benefits to builders and developers (low or no cost permits and developer fees, tax breaks, etc…) in exchange for setting aside a certain portion of a development for affordable housing. The city or county may not require more than 20% of a development be affordable.
The following concessions were made to the tenant advocates in the short session. For month-to-month tenancies, no rent increases allowed in the first year. Rent increases require a 90-day written notice after the first year of occupancy.
The Community Alliance of Tenants declared a “Renter State of Emergency”; prompting the Portland City Council and the Oregon Legislature to approve many increased renter protections and to focus upon many others for the future.
Portland Metro continues to be the 15th most expensive rental market in the nation. Competition for contributing members of our communities include places where the quality of life is fairly high, but rents are actually dropping like Baltimore, Anchorage, San Antonio, Des Moines, El Paso and others.
On September 1st, police began a sweep of the homeless camps along Portland’s Springwater Corridor. This massive relocation of homeless people had many unintended consequences. The homeless moved to camps on the streets, sidewalks and parking lots throughout the city. Squatters ended up in abandoned homes and vacant rentals (broken windows and kicked in doors). Many parked vehicles ended up with people living inside of them. This is a constant game of Whack-A-Mole.
Beginning April 1, 2017 at the direction of DEQ, Metro will implement screening requirements for additional types of construction materials arriving at their transfer stations. The new materials that will require testing for asbestos include drywall, interior textures, insulation, stucco, roofing materials, glazing compounds, vapor barriers and cement. This process is in addition to the current screening for lead based paint, vinyl flooring, etc… With all these new regulations it’s almost illegal to go to the dump.
Portland City Council and the Oregon State Legislature seem to be in a battle of who can be the most sympathetic to the plight of the downtrodden. They both seem to ignore existing laws to consider enacting versions of rent control (perhaps limit increases to a certain percentage), adopt plans for rent stabilization schemes and/or repeal all city, county and statewide bans on rent control. They really hate the best instrument for control that landlords utilize—the No Cause Notice. This tool in our toolbox has a bullseye on its back.
Saving the best for last, in 2017 the City of Portland is planning on creating a landlord registration including mandatory rental inspections and oversight of applications and contracts. To pay for the programs, the City will assess a surcharge to all landlords. This is nearly identical to the process enacted in Gresham over the last few years. However, the Portland City Council is much more adept at creating a large infrastructure of regulation, administration and inspection supported by a projected new tax funding of seven million dollars annually. From an outside point of view regarding the creation of these new bureaucratic kingdoms; when they cannot effectively operate a complaint driven inspection system in order to eradicate slumlords, what real purpose (other than perpetuating itself) is served by registering, taxing and inspecting every property?