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Rent Control Bill Clears First Hurdle 

Senate Bill 608 now heads to the Oregon House

On Feb. 12, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 608—also known as the statewide rent control bill—17 votes to 11.

All but one of the no votes was Republican, including Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend). Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) also voted against the bill. Two Republican members of the Senate didn’t vote.

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If SB 608 passes the House and Gov. Brown signs it—which she indicated Jan. 14 she would—it would limit rent increases and stop no-clause evictions after a tenant’s first year in a building. It would limit annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation in buildings more than 15 years old.

“Today the Oregon Senate passed essential legislation to stabilize families and protect people from predatory renting practices,” Stable Homes for Oregon Families Patty Wentz said in a press release. “With this vote, they listened to and stood up for the families and individuals who have been displaced, left behind, and too often ignored during the housing crisis.”

Opponents to the bill say the shortage of rentals is causing prices to skyrocket and that more inventory, not caps, will lower rents. Opponents of the bill also argue that no-cause evictions take away a property owner's ability to do what they want with property they own.

"I believe that the Rent Control Bill is well intended but the most likely outcome is fewer rental units available which will increase rents, hurting the very people the proponents are trying to help," Knopp told the Source Tuesday via email. "The emergency housing issue will only be resolved by increasing supply to balance supply and demand."

The bill heads next to the House, where Democrats control a supermajority as well.

“We are long past the point when we should have passed meaningful tenant protections,” House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), one of the bill’s authors told Willamette Week. “Clearly more needs to be done statewide to give renters more security and stability.”
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