Thank you for your excellent piece about tenants being retaliated against by their landlord for reporting a legitimately illegal rent increase. One of my closest friends went through this: an offer to renew was rescinded for merely asking a question about rent control. They chose not to bring it to the rent board; finding another place to live was as much stress as they could handle. The rent board and the city must come down hard on this landlord, and must proactively enforce rent control citywide. The bravery and stress exhibited and borne by these tenants is too much to ask.

In addition to enacting enforcement, we must end no-cause evictions. Allowing them encourages retaliation; by ending no-cause evictions, we could eliminate the worst cases of retaliation.

Many states, with and without rent control, have enacted just-cause eviction statutes. Even “live free or die” New Hampshire has a statewide law banning landlords from evicting people for no reason. Make no mistake, if a tenant violates the lease, fails to pay rent, damages the property, or engages in illegal activities, the landlord can still evict them. But what they can’t do is simply evict a family on a whim, which they can do in Portland and Maine.

Rent control has done a lot to protect Portland tenants and to keep Portland barely affordable. If we ban no-cause evictions, we will take another step toward making this city and state livable for everyone, including those working essential jobs.

Winston Lumpkins

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