I am a landlord, and I’m not the person that the Maine Democratic Socialists of America want you to believe I am. The Maine DSA, the architects of the existing rent control ordinances in Portland, have presented to the public a half-truth, derogatory and needlessly confrontational campaign aimed at landlords leading up to the June 13 election on Question A.

It’s the same playbook used in the DSA’s previous campaigns, implying or even saying outright that Portland landlords are greedy, uncaring, heinous, “gouging” parasites and that our goal is to exploit, disenfranchise and impoverish our tenants. Ouch! That hurts, and it’s simply not the case for me and the hundreds of other landlords I know who provide safe, quality housing for our tenants. Sadly, these character assassinations have worked. Portland is now saddled with one of the most restrictive, rigid, confusing and complicated one-size-fits-all rent control ordinances in the country. It treats a landlord with one unit the exact same as a corporate landlord with 500 units. Next door in South Portland, they made this distinction for small landlords when they recently passed rent control.

Wait, that’s not all! Rent control is only the first step in the DSA’s plans. Their end game is to take private ownership of rental housing from landlords and return it to the government for distribution to “the working class.” If you own a single-family home, beware. Your home is also on their agenda down the road to be taken from you and returned to the working class. I lean toward being a liberal, but these policies are troubling for so many reasons. If you don’t believe me, please read the DSA’s platform on their website – they are not shy about their goals.

I’m currently a volunteer board member of a Portland nonprofit. I am on a committee for another nonprofit that is currently raising money to help house asylum seekers in the recently opened Expo emergency shelter. I have been a “friendly visitor” for seniors who are shut-ins who suffer from loneliness. I care about our city and the people who live here.

I am also a landlord. I started investing in rental housing for my retirement in Portland seven years ago, starting with a duplex in Oakdale. As a landlord I work hard, often 50 hours a week, and my efforts have paid off. I provide quality, safe housing at fair market rents for a few dozen tenants, half of whom are either first-time renters on General Assistance, or have a Section 8 voucher. I love Portland and I love my community. I am a landlord, and I am not the person the DSA wants you to believe I am.

Please consider voting Yes on A, as it is a simple change to the existing rent control ordinance. It fixes the problem that actively causes rents of existing tenants to go up. Here’s why: Under the current rent control ordinance, landlords such as myself who have had no intention of raising the rent on their existing tenants or long-term tenants have been left with no choice but to raise the rent to the allowable increase under the ordinance at the end of a lease term. This is because landlords are now capped at a 5% increase on a vacant unit.

If I don’t take advantage of these allowable rental increases, I would never be able to recoup the inevitable major owner expenses, like updating a kitchen or replacing a boiler. The current rent control ordinance encourages me to raise rents by the maximum allowable amount. That is not rent control, it’s the exact opposite. Voting Yes on Question A would allow me to not raise the rent year after year and instead establish a new base rent only once a tenant voluntarily leaves. All existing tenant protections remain. This is a balanced approach to fixing rent control; it aligns our policy with other rent control ordinances across the country. Question A is a win-win situation for both tenants and landlords, and it deserves your support.

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