An old English proverb about the weather tells us “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” From my viewpoint as a landlord, it looks like March will be arriving like a lion with respect to the political and legal storms here in Oregon, and especially in Portland. As I write this, Multifamily NW, another organization that supports landlords in the region, has filed suit against the City of Portland to halt the implementation of the so-called Fair Access in Renting, or FAIR Ordinances, which would regulate Security Deposits and Application & Screening procedures. These rules are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2020. As an organization, RHA Oregon supports Multifamily NW in their lawsuit, and we are encouraging our members to support MFNW as individuals as well.
If you attended one of RHA’s workshops or our February dinner meeting covering this topic, you are certainly aware as to why landlords are so upset about these ordinances, which appear to be motivated more by a desire to punish small landlords and drive them out of business than to help bridge the housing affordability gap in Portland and the surrounding Metro area. As I write this, the Portland Housing bureau has published an eight-panel brochure describing the rules for Security Deposits, and a 20-page booklet describing the Application & Screening rules. When the explanation of a single rule exceeds the length of an entire lease agreement, the system is broken. Enough is enough! Even as the Portland Housing Bureau attempts to implement these ordinances by micromanaging the business of being a landlord or property manager, there are myriad unanswered questions and unintended consequences, which these ordinances do not address. A lawsuit to stop this process is both timely and appropriate.
If there is a silver lining to the gathering storm clouds, it appears that landlords won’t be fighting against bad regulatory legislation at the state level this year, as the debate over cap-and-trade legislation will likely consume the short session that ends on March 7. However, housing issues and rent regulation are almost certain to reappear in the 2021 session. Now is the time to prepare.
Fortunately, organizations like RHA Oregon and Multifamily NW have members that are willing to step up when the going gets tough. Whether you are a member of one or both organizations, or neither, there are some specific ways that all landlords can help in current and future fights:
- Make a contribution to the Multifamily NW Defense fund; there is a “Donate” button on their website under Advocacy/Defense Fund. Donations are confidential.
- Make a contribution to RHA Oregon; designate it for landlord advocacy.
- Join the RHA Oregon Member Advocate Subcommittee which is organized under the Legislative Committee. Contact the RHA office and let them know if you are willing to write letters or present public testimony.
- Support and vote for city council candidates and state legislators that are willing to listen to the positions of landlords.
- Share your story of being a good landlord, and how these regulations are impacting you personally, by sending an e-mail to MyHousingStory@multifamilynw.org.
- Join, follow, and like our organizations on social media! Be sure to find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google.
I hope you will join me and other landlords both large and small as we work to stem the tide of bad regulatory legislation.