A Portland landlord has agreed to board up a three-unit apartment building on East Oxford Street and list the building for sale by this fall.

The city condemned the three-unit building at 31 East Oxford St. in late May after the landlord, Clark Stephens, failed to comply with a court order to fully turn over management of the property to a private firm, among other things. It was the first time the city had taken such an extreme action since the nearly 20-year-old ordinance has been in place.

The building had been designated as a disorderly house by the city because of the number of police calls to the property. April calls for service included people refusing to leave, drug possession and suspicious activity, according to the city.

Stephens had been forced to evict all of the tenants in the building, but Pine Tree Legal, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income people, successfully delayed three of the evictions, so the tenants could have more time to find housing in Portland’s competitive rental market.

Pine Tree Attorney Katie McGovern said her clients agreed in court on July 6 to leave their apartments by Aug. 6. However, she still plans to pursue a claim she brought against the city that contends its disorderly houses ordinance is unconstitutional, since it does not include an appeals process for tenants.

“That case will go forward and we hope to have discussions with the city about ways the disorderly house ordinance could be modified to provide tenants with notice and an opportunity to be heard before buildings are posted against occupancy,” McGovern said.

And on July 10, Stephens agreed to another consent decree with the city. Although details are being finalized, Richard Bianculli Jr., the city’s neighborhood prosecutor, said he agreed to board up the building as soon as the last tenants had moved out. If the building was not secured by Aug. 14, the city would do it, he said.

Also, Stephens must list the property for sale with an agent by Sept. 14 and the city will lift the posting against occupancy as soon as the building is sold to an uninterested third party, Bianculli said.

Also, the city could take further action against Stephens if a separate building across the street at 32-34 East Oxford St. is designated again as a disorderly house.

Stephens did not return a call seeking comment and his attorney, John Branson, said he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Meanwhile, another court date is being scheduled to address McGovern’s constitutional claim against the city’s disorderly houses ordinance. Both McGovern and Bianculli said they plan to work together on possible improvements to the ordinance.

“In the meantime, we will be working to develop possible changes to the ordinance that would require the city to give tenants notice and an opportunity to be heard when a property is being boarded due to disorderly house violations,” Bianculli said.

Portland first adopted its disorderly housing ordinance back in 1998, but it has been amended over the years, most recently in 2011. It classifies a building with five or fewer apartments as a disorderly house if police have responded to at least three substantiated calls for service for general disturbances or any incident that involves an arrest or suspicion of criminal activity within a 30-day period. That threshold increases to four service calls for buildings with six to 10 units and five calls for 11 units or more.

Once a house is designated as disorderly, Bianculli said the city can generally work with the landlord to address issues at the property, which primarily includes evicting trouble-makers and doing a better job of screening tenants.

A May 11 letter from the city to Stephens outlines four calls for service in April, including people refusing to leave, drug possession and suspicious activity, at 31 East Oxford St. and seven calls for service at 32 East Oxford St.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings