Oregon Senate sides with renters

Tenants and landowners clash over rent control bill

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Renters and college students locked horns with landowners over Senate Bill 608, a rent control measure. The bill passed 17-11 on Feb. 12.

Although the bill was passed through the Senate, it has a couple more obstacles to pass before it becomes law. It must pass through the Oregon House. If it goes through the Oregon House, it will go on to Gov. Kate Brown, who has already expressed her support for the bill.

Oregon is not a cheap state to live in and rent costs are a large component of that. According to SmartAsset, the average cost of a studio apartment in Oregon is $1,090, 18 dollars more than the national average. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $1107, $109 more than the national average.

Graphic by Evan Curby // The Torch

SB 608, introduced on Jan. 14, aims to regulate a few of the things landowners can and cannot do. Under this bill, after a year of renting, the landlord is not able to evict their tenants without proper cause. The second function of this bill is to limit the amount a landowner can increase rent, capping it at seven percent per year.

So after 12 months of renting, a person can’t get evicted unless they: don’t pay rent; damage the rental, consume illegal substances or otherwise violate the lease. This also means a renter won’t be surprised by a 30-percent increase in rent within a year.

For renters, this potentially means less moving and more rent stability.

While this bill may excite some, many landowners don’t find it as appealing.

Oregon property owner Kent Coppinger believes that the free market should dictate the price of apartments.

“If someone wants to raise their rent to $3,000, then nobody will live there! Supply and demand controls the price of rent.¨

Ken Coppinger, property owner

Another landowner concern is the price of maintaining and upgrading apartments. ¨Why would you improve your rental and spend a substantial amount of money to improve quality of life in your rentals if you can’t raise rent to break even?¨ Coppinger said.

One more cause of worry for landowners is the fear that this will be a slippery slope, meaning that once the rent increase cap is seven percent, renters still won’t be happy and it will be decreased to four percent and then two percent.

A lot of people are moving to Oregon and, according to 24/7 Wall Street, Oregon is number two on the list of most popular states to move to growing from 3.83 to  4.26 million within the last decade.

As of publication time, it was unclear when the House plans to vote on the bill.