The Greater Portland Board of Realtors, the Maine Association of Realtors and the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors oppose Question 1 on Portland’s Nov. 7 ballot, and urge voters to vote “no” on this reckless referendum, which could have dire and unintended impacts on the city of Portland and its rental market.

We made the decision to oppose the referendum based on our commitment to support safe, affordable housing and private property rights in Portland. As Realtors, we are in the business of finding people homes – whether that be a single-family home, a multi-unit apartment building, or a rental. We know how vital the housing and rental market is to the fabric of a community. Our community and the availability of affordable housing are very important to us, both personally and professionally. While we agree that the availability of affordable housing is a major issue in Portland, this referendum is not the solution to the problem, and there are many unintended negative impacts this ordinance would create, the effects of which would be long-term and far-reaching.

First and foremost, there is no provision in the ordinance that would guarantee that low-income tenants would get a rent-controlled apartment. In fact, this will make it harder for low-income tenants to obtain housing, as landlords will be much more selective regarding who they rent to, and will look for tenants with higher credit scores and incomes, which would limit access to affordable housing for people who need it the most.

Typically, applicants who get into rent-controlled units tend to stay for long periods of time, which further exacerbates the housing supply problem. This really is an issue of supply and demand, not one of out-of-control rents. What the city needs is more affordable housing, which would ease the supply problem.

Rent caps would leave landlords little incentive to improve or maintain their properties, and that will lead to a decline in neighborhood quality, which will then result in decreased assessed property values, and increase the burden on the tax paying community.

Under this proposal, landlords would be unable to evict problem tenants. The requirement that landlords place five police calls in order to evict a problem tenant could be dangerous for neighboring tenants and places a lot of extra work on the Police Department. Neighbors of these problem tenants would have to live beside them for an untold amount of time before a landlord could remove them.

A new city department would also need to be created to monitor the 18,000-plus rental units in Portland, and voters don’t have any idea what the costs associated with this additional bureaucratic entity would be. The proposed landlord board would be comprised of four tenants and one landlord, which is not fair representation.

Question 1 would create unfair hurdles for landlords and for the creation of new affordable housing in Portland. It is a direct attack on private property rights. If passed, this dangerous policy cannot be changed for five years! We agree that the city must work to provide safe, affordable housing in Portland, but this proposal is not the way to do that. The negative consequences and impact this would have on the rental market in Portland would be extreme, and exactly the opposite of what the proponents of this policy hope to achieve. It is bad policy, bad for homeowners and bad for Portland.

We also would like to remind Portland residents to not be confused by the “Vote Yes On Question 1” signs all around the city that say this question will offer tax relief. These signs are referring to the state’s ballot Question 1 regarding the York County casino referendum. These are two very different referendum questions, and Question 1 on Portland’s ballot will definitely not offer any tax relief to Portland taxpayers. In fact, there is a very real chance that this referendum would increase the tax burden on property owners in Portland if passed.

For these reasons, we oppose Question 1 and strongly urge city residents to vote “no” on Question 1 in Portland on Nov. 7.