The Portland City Council’s Housing Committee voted Wednesday to recommend lengthening the required notice period before landlords can raise tenants’ rent.

The change was part of a package of modest proposals designed to address housing security in the city’s hot rental market. The proposals will be forwarded to the council next month.

Several members of the public criticized the five-member committee for not making more meaningful changes, such as adopting rent control or establishing a moratorium on no-cause evictions. West End resident Joey Brunelle urged the committee to show “more leadership and perhaps more ambition” in its effort to protect low-income renters, who are being squeezed out of Portland’s rental market.

“I am flabbergasted that this is all that’s been proposed,” Brunelle said. “This is barely more than nothing.”

Councilor and committee Vice Chairman David Brenerman said more aggressive changes are legally questionable, and that the package of proposals is designed to be educational for landlords and tenants.

The proposals being sent to the council would expand the notice requirement for rent increases from the state-mandated 45 days to 75 days. They also would require landlords to provide tenants with pamphlets outlining their rights and responsibilities, as well as information explaining at-will tenancies.


At-will tenancy – a monthly rental arrangement – can be terminated by a landlord or tenant with 30 days’ notice. Housing advocates often refer to a landlord’s decision not to continue a monthly rental agreement as a “no-cause eviction,” especially when a low-income tenant is being kicked out so the unit can be renovated.

The committee also is recommending the formation of an advisory committee to track the city’s rental market and report back to the Housing Committee. The advisory panel would act as a clearinghouse for tenant and landlord information, but would not mediate disputes.

The Housing Committee is also interested in exploring City Councilor Jon Hinck’s proposal for a Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance, which would provide funding to help pay some of the expenses of low-income residents who get displaced because of housing renovations, change of use or demolition. It would be based on a program in Seattle, which provides about $3,500 in assistance to people who earn less than 50 percent of the area’s median income. The landlord and the city each cover half of the $3,500 payment.

The committee would study ways to fund the program and tailor it to Portland.

Councilor Belinda Ray said that proposal is probably the council’s best opportunity to address housing insecurity for low-income families. “I hope we can find a way to make it work,” she said.

The committee voted down Councilor Spencer Thibodeau’s so-called leeway program, which would have essentially increased at-will tenancies to 90 days, unless a landlord bought out a tenant. It also voted against requiring landlords to accept housing vouchers, which is now a voluntary federal program.


Last month, Mayor Ethan Strimling proposed more aggressive protections for renters, including restricting the frequency of rent increases and limiting the number of units that could be vacated for renovations.

Strimling issued a written statement in response to the committee’s proposals, calling for “bold, decisive action.”

Although the mayor spoke in support of Thibodeau’s proposals, Strimling did not ask the committee to take any votes on his own package.


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