Lawmakers in Oregon are on the verge of signing into law new legislation that would impose statewide rent controls on landlords in the state.
The proposed bill is reportedly quite controversial, with numerous bodies coming out in opposition to it, including the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Association of Realtors. They fear that rent controls could have a negative impact on housing markets, especially if other states follow suit.
“[The bill] will worsen the imbalance between housing supply and demand by allowing for rent control across the state,” Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, told USA Today. “While the intent of rent control laws is to assist lower-income populations, history has shown that rent control exacerbates shortages, makes it harder for apartment owners to make upgrades, and disproportionately benefits higher-income households.”
As for the NAR, it has become a vocal opponent of the legislation. It argues that the new law would infringe on private property rights, and says a better way to protect the rental market is through local and state zoning laws.
“NAR encourages states and municipalities to adopt zoning laws and building codes, or other legislation that encourage the construction of rental dwellings,” it said in a statement.
But the bill has plenty of supporters too, including Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who has vowed to sign the new rules into law. The bill passed Oregon’s senate last week, and will cap annual rent increases at 7 percent. The idea is to allow landlords to raise rents somewhat, while preventing them from price gouging, USA Today reported.
Supporters say that rent control is essential to address a lack of affordable housing in the state.
“With this historic vote, Oregon lawmakers have recognized that basic protections for renters are essential as the state and local communities work to increase the supply of housing for people with moderate and low incomes,” Patty Wentz of Stable Homes for Oregon Families told USA Today.
Oregon isn’t the first state to consider such measures, although the rules would differ across states. For example in New York, officials there say they’re considering extending New York City-style rent control measures to upstate residents. Meanwhile in California, although there is no statewide mandate, lawmakers do enforce limitations on local governments that want to enact rent control laws. Illinois is also considering repealing laws that currently prohibit rent control.