Lisa Nappi has lived at Redbank Village in South Portland for 15 years and likes the small yards at the 500-unit complex, and its peaceful and friendly atmosphere. Her rent had been set to go up $500 but the rent cap will reduce the increase significantly, she said on Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

South Portland’s rent cap will provide some immediate relief for city residents facing huge rent increases.

That’s the case at Redbank Village, a large complex of duplexes not far from the Maine Mall, where it means financial help for residents like Lisa Nappi, who has lived in the community for 15 years and likes its peaceful and friendly atmosphere and the small yards renters can tend to.

She declined to say how much she was paying in rent before it was hiked by about $500 two months ago, but said the 10 percent cap adopted by the city Tuesday will cut her increase significantly.

“That would help a lot,” she said, before wondering whether managers at the apartment complex would automatically cut her rent or if she would need to go to the office to make that happen.

Nappi doesn’t like a lot of the changes JRK Property Holdings of Los Angeles has made since buying the development, ranging from the rent hikes to requiring rents to be paid online rather than by check at the office.

“That’s crazy,” she said. “Some people don’t have banks.”


Martin Baez and his wife, Wendy Santos, also will likely get a break because their rent was due to rise from $1,760 a month to $2,260 in August.

Baez said the couple will probably stay put, but start looking for a new apartment due to the increase.

Martin Baez of Redbank Village in South Portland where rents were raised as much as $598 per month throughout the 500-unit complex Wednesday, June 8, 2022. () Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“It’s hard to find a place so I want to sign the lease,” he said, “but we’ll look for another place.”

But the cap on rent increases won’t mean much to Lauri Merrill, who was packing up her belongings in a rental truck Wednesday and said the rent increase drove her, her husband and one of her two children from South Portland.

Merrill’s $1,519 monthly rent was due to be raised by about 20 percent in April, she said, and she and her husband decided instead to move in with their son in Litchfield. They wanted their daughter to graduate from South Portland High School first, Merrill said, so they gave the management 60 days’ notice of their plans to move rather than sign a new lease.

Like Nappi, Merrill said the new management took steps that she didn’t like or found perplexing, like a $1.95 “convenience fee” to pay online after paying the rent by paper check was no longer allowed. She saw other fees tacked onto her rent that the Redbank Village management could not explain, Merrill said.


The rent cap adopted by the city Tuesday will apply to apartment complexes of more than 10 units everywhere in South Portland but was largely driven by the huge rent increases at Redbank Village.

City Manager Scott Morelli said the council’s 6-0 vote means rent increases since April 1 will be capped at 10 percent and residents can’t be evicted if they are unable to pay the higher rents between now and late November. Those residents also will get an additional six months to catch up on their past due amounts, city officials said.

Lauri Merrill plans to move out of Redbank Village now that her daughter has graduated from high school and was loading a rental truck on Wednesday. Like other tenants, she said the new management took steps that she didn’t like or found perplexing, like a $1.95 “convenience fee” to pay rent online after paying by paper check was no longer allowed. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Morelli said it was important that the council vote on the rent cap and eviction ban was 6-0. If the vote hadn’t been unanimous, it wouldn’t have taken effect immediately. He also said that the cap couldn’t go back further than April 1 without encountering a likely legal challenge.


In talks with the city, Morelli said, JRK Property Holdings had proposed a voluntary cap on rent increases that would have averaged around 10 percent but there were issues around how to handle the rent increases for people who use housing aid vouchers to pay part or all of their rent.

The offer “obviously was appreciated, but there was no force behind it,” he said, and city officials also wanted a measure that would ensure that the cap would apply to all apartment complexes in the city with more than 10 units.


Morelli also said South Portland is doing a housing affordability study that will be presented to the council soon, and a follow-up workshop is scheduled for July 12 to start discussing other steps the city can take to make apartments more affordable and available.

The city will have to walk a fine line between clamping down on steep rent increases without having developers decide they want to build more housing elsewhere or fail to maintain the properties they already have here, he said.

And ultimately, Morelli said, affordable housing is a regional problem that will require action from the state and the federal government.

JRK Property Holdings did not respond to email or phone requests Wednesday to discuss the rent increases.

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