Rent Control is a BAD idea that's failed over and over again.
That's why 93% of economists - from the Left, Middle, and Right - agree that Rent Control is a terrible public policy. From New York City to San Francisco, cities that have implemented rent control have seen terrible side effects, ranging from scarce lower-income housing to disrepair and increased rents. In fact, cities with rent control list among the most expensive in the nation to rent in.
Rent Control would also discourage the development of new housing, which means further impediment to Portland's critical need for more affordable housing.
The Rent Control referendum contains reckless and dangerous provisions that would make it even more difficult to deal with dangerous tenants like drug dealers.
For example, the referendum sets the standard of 5 calls to the police before illegal or nuisance activity can be grounds for immediate removal.
The Rent Control referendum could trigger a massive devaluation of rental properties in Portland and shift the tax burden to homeowners.
In cities ranging from Berkeley, California to New York City, rent control has driven the value of rental properties down significantly. If this happened in Portland, we'd see a dramatic shift, driving property tax up for homeowners to compensate for the lost tax revenue from rental properties.
Rent Control won't lower anyone's rent. And, Portland's rental costs have actually been declining over the last several years.
This proposed ordinance does not lower rents, in fact it suggests a specific rate of increase for all rent. This is in direct contrast to available data that shows average rents in the Portland began to decline after peaking in June 2015. Since summer 2015, rents have been in a gradual but sustained decline.
The Rent Control referendum would not help lower-income people find housing. In fact, it would likely hurt renters at the lower end of the income scale.
By creating a more hostile environment for property owners, this proposed ordinance would discourage the development of new housing. This means more competition for fewer housing units, resulting in a market that favors landlords instead of tenants. With a cap on rental costs, this means things like credit scores and work history will become even more important to property owners when approving tenants. It is more likely that higher-income earners will be favored based on their ability to afford rent.
The Rent Control referendum would have a devastating impact on the building trades in Portland.
Rental units provide a huge boost to our blue collar workforce. Tradespeople are integral to improvements and upgrades to rental properties, but Rent Control would severely limit the amount of this work. When property owners are hit by the brutal financial tab from this referendum, they will invest less in upgrades. This hurts working people and will mean actual job loss in many cases.
The Rent Control referendum would create a bureaucratic nightmare.
The proposed ordinance sets up a seven-member volunteer panel, and urges the placement of 4 tenants and only 1 landlord on the board. This volunteer panel would be responsible for dealing with rent increase and eviction disputes for more than 18,000 rental units in the city of Portland.
Additionally, proponents of Rent Control have proposed hiring two full-time City employees whose sole jobs would be administering the new rent control regime.
The Portland City Council has already rejected Rent Control, but a small group of extreme activists with no experience in housing policy are trying to do an end-around the council.
Last year, the Council reviewed Rent Control through an extensive and transparent process, and determined it would be bad for Portland. Now a small group of activists is attempting to circumvent public and open lawmaking by using the referendum process, bypassing public input and forcing a poorly-constructed law onto the city of Portland without any expert input. The author of the referendum is unknown, and it is unclear what if any background in housing policy the proponents of the referendum have. Additionally, proponents of Rent Control have made extensive efforts to deceive the public about the contents of the bill, and lobbied aggressively to prohibit the use of the ordinance language on the ballot - keeping voters from knowing exactly what is in the law.
The Rent Control referendum is in direct conflict with other tenant-protection provisions in Portland code, and likely at odds with State law.
For instance, the proposed referendum suggests five calls to the police as a way a landlord can remove a dangerous tenant. But existing law says if the police have to be called five times, the landlord is breaking the Disorderly House law by not keeping other tenants safe enough. This is just one example of the conflicting and poorly-written language of this proposed referendum.
If this reckless referendum passes, the City Council is barred by law from amending or repealing it for FIVE YEARS.
That's according to the City Code. This means the Council can't fix any of the conflicts or unintended consequences of this reckless bill. We'll be stuck with this terrible public policy for five years.
The Rent Control referendum is reckless and extreme, and it will cause far more harm than good for Portland. For these reasons and more, we urge you to vote NO on Rent Control in November.