Legislature follows Portland’s cue to stabilize housing crisis

Oregon House passes bill to lift ban on rent control and stop no-cause evictions.

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The bill, House Bill 2004, narrowly passed in the House Tuesday with a vote of 31-27. If passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate, no-cause evictions would no longer be allowed in Oregon. Some exemptions are included, of course.

An amendment to the bill lets landlords issue no-cause evictions during the first six months of a lease; the intent is to get rid of bad tenants. Landlords can also evict tenants if repairs or renovations are being made to the home, if the unit is being sold to a person who wants to live in the home (not resell the property) or if the landlord or their family member plans to move in.

In these cases, landlords can issue a 90-day notice but must provide moving expenses equal to one month of rent. The original bill stipulated a fee equal to three-months rent. 

Some of these rules may sound familiar. Portland recently approved similar legislation. The local ordinance requires landlords to provide moving expenses equal to about three months rent in the case of no-cause evictions.

Rep. Karin Power, D–Milwaukie and a chief sponsor of the bill, says it will help constituents such as a 72-year-old woman who reached out about the bill.

“She and her husband have received a no-cause eviction three times in the last year and a half. Meanwhile, rents are sky-rocketing throughout our community,” Power says in a press release. “I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety this has caused her, and others like her who have also asked for my help. Each move cuts ever-deeper into their savings.”

Landlords will still have the right to serve a just-cause eviction notice under the proposed law.

HB 2004 also removes the ban on local rent control ordinances. If approved, individual jurisdictions could pass an ordinance establishing rent control units. Some cities, including Portland, have already expressed interest in lifting the ban and passing local rule.

Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, another co-sponsor of the legislation, says the bill is an important tool to address the housing crisis.

“Solving this crisis will require many approaches — including increasing the supply of housing and preservation of existing housing units,” Gorsek says in a press release. “But we need stronger tenant protections too.”