Local landlords and tenants react to new rent control law

MEDFORD, Ore. —  Soaring housing prices and the growing rate of homelessness is a concern for many across the state and the country.

But a historic bill signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on Thursday aims to change that making Oregon the first and only state in the nation to have statewide rent control.

“Here in Jackson County, we’re looking at 48 percent of the whole population that rents their homes.”

Under the new law, landlords can only raise the rent on tenants once a year. And those rent increases are capped at seven percent plus inflation.

“We’ve heard cases of people having 100 percent rent increases in just a matter of days,” said Joseph Tomlin, Community Organizer for the Rogue Action Center.

Landlords can also no longer evict a tenant without cause once that tenant has been in their property for more than a year.

“It really prevents people from being kicked out of their apartments for no reason at all,” said Tomlin.

But there are exceptions to the new law, for landlords who own four or fewer rental properties and for landlords whose properties were built within the last 15 years.

Local advocacy group, Rogue Action Center, has been fighting for a rent control bill for over two years. Tomlin says the law is a step in the right direction, but there’s still more work to be done.

“It allows for still a very, very large rent increase,” said Tomlin. “If you’re in an apartment that is say 800 dollars a month, it still allows for a single increase of around 100 dollars.”

Even landlords in southern Oregon are taking a neutral stance on the new law.

“It was the best bill that we could get at the time,” said Mark Nichols, a landlord with the Southern Oregon Rental Owners Association.

Nichols says they knew the bill was going to pass and that it could have been worse from his organization’s perspective.

“Hardly anybody gives that much increase in your rent,” said Nichols. “And we can reset the rents in between tenants as long as the tenant leaves voluntarily.”

But with more restrictions in place for landlords, Nichols says he anticipates a future problem.

“It could have an adverse effect,” he said.

Instead of solving the housing crisis, Nichols worries the law could make things worse if landlords leave the rental business altogether.

“They don’t want to be a landlord. And they’re going to sell it to who can afford it,” said Nichols.

The new law is effective immediately.

Find more information about the new law here.

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