Rent control appeals to renters. So would free housing.

Renters outnumber landlords in Portland, so promising cheaper rent wins elections. However, rent is not cheaper since rent control started. My tenants pay more now because I impose an annual increase to protect my property value. This is because I cannot raise rent to market value when a tenant moves out. Three of my units pay discounted rates because they are good tenants, I want them to stay and I prefer not to raise rent on an existing tenant. I used to raise rent to market value only for a new tenant. Unfortunately, I (and any future owner of the building) am locked in to any discount permanently. Rent control disincentivizes landlords from offering reduced rent to good tenants.

This is an unintended consequence of rent control, but the Democratic Socialists of America refuses to talk to landlords about reasonable solutions. The nationwide housing shortage has increased expenses for everyone, making property unaffordable for most investors and renters. Many small landlords invested in Portland for the long term, as supplemental income once our mortgages are paid in 30 years. We are not property management companies or absentee landlords.

I encourage the DSA in Portland to see us as neighbors providing housing and a source of accurate economic information rather than “price gougers,” and to consider working with small landlords in the future.

Joanne Huntington

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