An emergency moratorium on evictions now in place in South Portland will prevent tenants at Redbank from being evicted for not paying recent rent increases. Shawn Patrick Ouellette photo/Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland City Council has continued its debate on how to cap the rent increase before the eviction moratorium expires in November.  

At a meeting on Tuesday night, councilors discussed whether the cap should stay in place and, if so, at what percentage. City staff drafted a framework for the council to consider and provide further guidance. One course of action that gained traction is based on an Oregon statute that has a 7 percent cap plus a consumer price index adjustment.  

“This framework is largely based on the approach taken by the state of Oregon, which is a simple across-the-board maximum rent increase that is self-administered,” said City Manager, Scott Morelli via a position paper. “This streamlined approach essentially relies on the courts, through eviction proceedings, to ensure compliance with the law. (The city would not be involved in the Landlord-Tenant relationship, but a landlord’s compliance [or lack thereof] with the rent increase cap could be a point of discussion during any lease or rental agreement negotiations, as well as a Tenant defense in any eviction proceeding.) Additionally, we added notice requirements to ensure both tenants and landlords are aware of the ordinance requirements.”  

During the meeting, councilors said they would like to investigate the economic impact of hard caps like the 10 percent ceiling, which is currently in effect. They would also like to explore consumer price index adjustments and those that take property taxes into account.  

Councilor Linda Cohen stated that the council has heard from tenants and landlords. Many landlords have reached out to the council and expressed concern about how the rent cap will impact them. The eviction moratorium exempts landlords with 10 or fewer units, and many have called to increase that number.   

“We’re not just talking about tenants here. We are hearing from a lot of tenants, and I think it is important to have the landlord’s voice there,” said councilor Linda Cohen.  


The council previously stated at its June 14 meeting that any rent stabilization they may enact would not only prioritize the protection of tenants but also consider the impact it may have on landlords.  

Currently, the city of South Portland requires landlords to provide at least 75-day notice before rent increases. During the workshop, councilors supported a staff recommendation to increase the advance notice to 90 days and give tenants a minimum of 30 days to sign the renewal.  

The city council held a workshop on June 14 to discuss the merits of an ordinance that would protect tenants from sudden and excessive rent increases, prevent tenants from becoming homeless in an aggressive market, and prevent other landlords from imposing similar increases. The moratorium will protect tenants from paying rent increases retroactively from April 1, 2022, to Nov. 27, 2022.     

“We are going to try really hard to protect as many families as possible,” said councilor Kate Lewis at the June 14 meeting.  

In the past couple of months, JRK Holdings, of Los Angeles, has raised rents as much as $598 per month and moved to evict tenants throughout the 500-unit complex. Some tenants could receive rent subsidies through the South Portland Housing Authority and other agencies. On May 31, South Portland City Council held a special workshop to discuss an eviction moratorium at the request of some residents concerned with significant rent increases being implemented at Redbank Village apartments.  

“I want to say to some of the comments made in the public discussions; I think that any time spent trying to keep people in their homes is not a waste of time,” said councilor Jocelyn Leighton. “I believe that this conversation is just really important regardless of the outcome. We need to be talking about as a group of people that are making decisions about a city of people, one of the most important things we need to be talking about is this fundamental right to housing and people’s right to have a roof over their head, have safety, have mental stability, etc. I think that we’re not hearing from a lot of tenants in this forum because to come onto the Zoom meeting or sit in this room and be on TV, you’re going to show your landlord who you are, and I think a lot of tenants are afraid of retaliation.” 

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