Todd Blanchette, representing “No on A” and “Yes on 3”, talks to Damien Harris outside the voting polls at Deering High School on Tuesday. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

Portland voters rejected Question A, an ordinance change to exempt anyone with an ownership interest in nine or fewer rental units in the city from the provisions of the city’s rent control ordinance.

Only 34%, or 7,328 of city voters, supported Question A. Sixty-six percent, or 14,480 voters, were opposed.

Maine Democratic Socialists of America, which opposed Question A, said passage of the amendment would have allowed landlords to raise rents for over 9,000 tenants previously protected by the rent control ordinance. They said the rent control waiver would allow landlords to evict tenants with shorter notice.

Buddy Moore, chairman of the Livable Portland campaign, said that the polling results Tuesday evening showed widespread opposition to the measure. Without some protections, it would make it even harder for people trying to find housing in Maine’s largest city. Maine DSA is affiliated with Livable Portland.

Tuesday’s rent control vote comes on the heels of a failed referendum in June that would have allowed landlords to reset rents with no limit whenever tenants left voluntarily. The current system limits landlords to 5% increases for a unit that is changing hands.

“It is really baffling and it defies common sense that this would have been brought forward again after the defeat of rent control in June,” Moore said.


Moore, a former member of Portland’s Rent Board, called on the new mayor and their administration to step up enforcement of the city’s rent control ordinance, which he claims has been flouted by some landlords.

A group of landlords gathered enough petition signatures to place Question A on the Nov. 7 ballot. It is the third referendum addressing rent control in Portland since November 2022.

Landlords say they needed Question A to pass because they are struggling to keep up with rising taxes, general maintenance and other costs.

“A few small landlords took a chance at getting some relief from Portland’s rent control, one of the most restrictive in the country. Predictably, Portland rejected any input from its landlord community. Ironically, large landlords appear to be thriving and growing while mom and pop owners are suffocating and selling. We expect Portland will get exactly what the DSA wants: fewer landlords and more tents,” Brit Vitalius, president of the Rental Housing Alliance, said in a statement.

In August, the City Council voted 6-2 to place the referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot with councilors Mark Dion and Roberto Rodriguez opposed to an amendment that changed the title of the referendum question. The amendment, which was brought forward by Councilor Victoria Pelletier, changed the title from “An Act to Exempt Small Landlords from Portland’s Rent Control Ordinance” to “An Act to Amend Portland’s Rent Control Ordinance.”

Nearly three years into rent control, Portland is still trying to work through kinks in the ordinance. Those who wrote it say it has helped stabilized costs for tenants and available housing, but city staff say parts of the ordinance are hard to implement, forcing them to struggle to keep up with questions and complaints.

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