With Gov. Kate Brown signing off on Senate Bill 608, Oregon becomes the first U.S. state to institute rent increase laws. The passing of this bill has received a lot of local attention. It even accrued national attention when it was picked up by the New York Times on Feb. 26.
With the nation currently in the midst of what the New York Times called a “housing affordability crisis,” this bill has the potential to change lives. Being the first state to offer a solution to a nationwide problem gives other states the opportunity to follow suit.
According to the annual rent report on the Abodo website, many major cities are suffering the same problem. In Las Vegas, rent has been increasing approximately 4.9 percent per month.
Oregon cities were also present in this rent report. Eugene rent prices increased by 9.4 percent last year, putting them at the fourth largest increase in the country.
The bill caps the rent increase at 7 percent per year.
“Families are having trouble putting food on the table, let alone paying rent.”Ginny Burdick, Oregon Senate Maj. Leader
While this is the first instance of statewide rent limitations in the U.S., many other countries have used similar methods. Germany, for example, has rent control laws in place that prohibit landlords from raising rent 10 percent more than the average for that area. According to the European news publisher The Local, “this margin has given landlords so much wiggle room that the law is only relevant in areas where the prices have been rising yearly by at least 3.9 percent.” While the law hasn’t proved to be successful throughout all of Germany, it has worked in places that were experiencing a housing crisis themselves. Other countries throughout Europe have found rent stabilization to be an effective way to keep housing affordable.
Many landowners aren’t very enthused about the new regulations. Many are fearful that this will be a slippery slope leading to even steeper rent control laws.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, one of the chief sponsors of SB 608 and a landlord for 35 years, acknowledges these concerns from landlords, but believes this bill is still vital in ensuring that landlords do not repeatedly gouge their tenants. Many landlords have been abusing rentals laws, she said, and SB608 can limit this to relieve tenants from personal distress.
“Especially in rentals that are at the lower end of Portland,” she said, “families are having trouble putting food on the table, let alone paying rent.”