The recently formed South Portland Tenants Association will present a proposal for a rent-control ordinance when the South Portland City Council discusses the growing demand for affordable housing at a Jan. 25 workshop meeting.

Councilors are aware that a lack of affordable housing in Portland is putting pressure on surrounding communities, including South Portland, said Councilor Patti Smith.

“Our wages are stagnant and I hear how tough it is to find an affordable place to live for many people,” Smith said. “We’re talking about being welcoming as a community in general to young families, new Americans and others.”

Chris Kessler, a founder of the tenants association, will present information about the current state of the rental market in South Portland, and as a part of the presentation, the association will request that the council institute rent regulations to protect renters.

“The uncontrolled rising cost of rents and lack of adequate protections for tenants has created a situation where families are facing serious financial hardship, displacement and even homelessness,” Kessler said in a written statement.

Kessler noted that more than 40 percent of South Portland’s housing units are rentals, according to the U.S. Census. He said the average price for a two-bedroom apartment in South Portland is about $1,450 per month, based on recent craigslist.com listings.

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To address the housing issue, the tenants association plans to propose rent regulations including annual limits on rent increases that would be tied to the area consumer price index, Kessler said. It also would establish a rent board to oversee implementation of the rent-control ordinance.

The regulations would require annual registration of all rental units in the city, including a registration fee to fund the rental program’s administrative costs, Kessler said. The ordinance also would require landlords to provide just cause and specific reasons to evict tenants, and it would provide relocation payments to tenants for “no fault” evictions. Details such as the registration fee and relocation payment amounts have yet to be worked out, he said.

The ordinance also would ensure a landlord’s right to increase rent to compensate for capital improvement costs, other than those attributable to deferred maintenance, Kessler said.

“Rent regulation is a necessary policy to prevent the displacement of community members who live here now while we seek long-term solutions to build more housing for people of all incomes and backgrounds,” said Kessler.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard


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