The South Portland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the city’s eviction moratorium for six more months while it continues working on a rent stabilization law.

The moratorium, enacted in June, was scheduled to end Nov. 27. The extension now means the temporary eviction ban will end in late May.

“It will become effective in 20 days, which is before the current moratorium expires,” City Manager Scott Morelli said Tuesday.

The council also required landlords to give tenants more notice of an upcoming rent increase and gave tenants more time to respond. That ordinance amendment is separate from the moratorium and goes into effect Jan. 1.

Spurred by rent hikes of up to $598 at the Redbank Village Apartments in May, the moratorium bars landlords from evicting tenants for not paying a rent increase in excess of 10%. It also sets a city-wide rent increase cap of 10% with a series of exemptions, including landlords who own 10 or fewer units, nonprofit elder care facilities, school dorms, and short-term rentals.

The rent cap has been a source of debate among councilors and landlords. It could be part of a rent stabilization ordinance the council will resume discussing in  January.


Landlords in the city have argued that the current temporary cap is too wide-reaching and should be narrowed to focus on large corporate landlords, like Redbank owner JRK Holdings of California. Councilors have emphasized it is their duty to protect tenants but will consider the unintended consequences of a cap on rent increases on local landlords who raise rents responsibly.

Some councilors said they won’t support a cap on rent increases in a permanent ordinance but do support it for the moratorium.

“I’m not for rent control, but I am for this,” Councilor Misha Pride said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Other councilors said the moratorium isn’t perfect, but they support it because it is temporary.

“This is only for six months, and it’s giving us more time to think of a good, final ordinance when it comes back to the council,” Councilor Susan Henderson said.

The council also unanimously passed an ordinance amendment on Tuesday that will give tenants more notice of, and time to respond to, rent increases.

In August, the council extended the notice period of a rent increase a landlord must give their tenants from 45 days to 75 days. On Tuesday, they extended that notice period even further to 90 days. Also as part of the amendment, tenants will have at least 45 days, instead of 30, to tell their landlords whether they plan to renew their lease.

“I think extending the time period is extremely reasonable, given the environment in which we all live today,” Councilor Katherine Lewis said.

The City Council will resume discussions of a rent stabilization ordinance in January.

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