Bend landlords complain about Oregon’s rent control bill

  • The Oregon Capitol in Salem. (123RF)

Landlords look to evict problem tenants before Senate Bill 608 passes

As president of the Central Oregon Rental Owners Association, Melody Luelling has been fielding a lot of hotline calls about the rent control bill that’s quickly working its way through Oregon’s Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Some of the callers are landlords who have been charging rents that are below the market rate and want to catch up before the bill passes, Luelling said.

Others want to get rid of tenants who’ve been paying their rent late or have unauthorized pets or roommates.

“Right now you can give them a no-cause notice and have them move away,” she said.

Senate Bill 608 passed the Senate Tuesday, 17 to 11, and is expected to pass the House. Effective immediately, it would make Oregon first in the nation to enact statewide rent control.

Bend landlords were eager Wednesday to sound off in the wake of the vote.

“This is real, real serious stuff,” said Lawnae Hunter, who owns rental property and owns a management company overseeing about 800 units, mainly single-family homes and duplexes, in Bend and Redmond. “Certainly there are some abusive situations in Portland that have sparked this — which is a way, way overreaction.”

Hunter and Luelling agreed that the immediate impact will be from limits on eviction, rather than limiting rent hikes to 7 percent plus the increase in consumer price index. The bill also requires landlords to give tenants 90 days’ notice of eviction and pay them one month’s rent.

“We’re already getting calls from our owners (at Plus Property Management), saying, ‘I don’t want to own property in Oregon anymore,’” Hunter said. “‘Why should I have to pay a tenant to move out of it? And why would I want to continue to invest in housing where I had to do that?’”

Hunter thinks corporate-owned apartment complexes will fare better, at least in the short run.

Regardless of the style of housing they manage, landlords said the legislation would discourage investment in older properties.

“Usually you pay for capital improvements through rental increases,” said Andrew Brand at Evergreen Housing Development Group in Seattle. The company is planning a 170-unit apartment building in Bend.

Developers have built hundreds of new apartments in Bend, and more are in the planning stage. Brand doesn’t think anyone will cancel their plans over the rent control that’s currently proposed.

“It’ll be very easy for the Legislature to change that from 7 percent to something lower than 7 percent,” Brand said. “At a certain point it’ll become restrictive on new development.”

Bend already requires landlords to give tenants who have been living on the property for more than a year 90 days’ notice of a rent increase.

With the House expected to take up the bill soon, many landlords have probably missed their opportunity for a catch-up rent hike, Luelling said.

“It’s really catching people by surprise,” Hunter said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860,

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