The November elections are now around the corner and landlords all around the state of Oregon should be put on notice that their voices count.

In 2017 HB 2004, a “rent control” bill, was introduced in the state legislature. It seems like ancient history now. There was a lot of testimony and a lot of press and a lot of drama and angst on both sides of the debate. It was ugly, but the landlords won and the bill was defeated.

Don’t remember the details? I found this summary from Oregon Rental Housing Association:

• “HB 2004 PROHIBITS landlords from terminating a month-to-month tenancy without cause, except under certain circumstances, with 90 days’ written notice and payment of relocation expenses that could be upwards of $5000.
• It also REQUIRES fixed term tenancies to become month-to-month tenancies on the ending date, unless the tenant elects to renew or terminate tenancy and REQUIRES the landlord to make tenant an offer to renew fixed term tenancy.
• Repeals the statewide prohibition on “Rent Control.”

If you own rentals in the City of Portland, none of this would probably ring any new alarms for you, as it was pretty much passed, locally. Portland landlords have been reeling from “rent stabilization” ordinances all year. Meanwhile, the rest of the landlords throughout the state are still scratching their heads and wondering how such zany antics could ever become a reality! After all, “everyone knows rent control doesn’t work!” Right?

I think it’s important to point out here that HB 2004 did not “lose” statewide in terms of its momentum. The bill was only narrowly defeated. How narrowly? By one, single vote. It was a victory, but it did not reveal the stronger team.

If you don’t recall the rest of the story, let me remind you. Sen. Rod Monroe, a landlord and Democrat for District 24, held the line. The final vote failed by his stance alone. It became a bellweather moment in his career. Subsequently, after the session ended, Senator Monroe was attacked, and aggressively picketed by Portland Tenants United. During the hearings, they accosted his office in the State Capital. Later, they staged demonstrations at his church, handing out defaming literature. A few months later, they disrupted his 75th birthday party at his house with flash mobs, and tried to intimidate guests with intrusive photographing and they dropped off a box of wrapped dog crap at his front door. (They rang the bell and ran!) I was at that event and personally witnessed the disruptions.

In February of this year, Senator Monroe (who was first elected as a State Representative in 1976 and has been district’s State Senator since 1980), was defeated in the primaries by a novice candidate that ran on an “antilandlord” platform. Senator Monroe is serving out his final year in office in these remaining months of 2018.

So now, back at the State Capital, the legislative math on housing rights is pretty simple: There is no longer any sure vote in the entire State of Oregon to stop a bill like HB 2004 from resurfacing and passing. There remains a lot of dissatisfaction from the Tenants’ Rights advocates. With a presumed super majority being (re)elected in November, these groups and politicians are preparing to celebrate.

I encourage all rental property owners in our great state to look into where their candidates stand on housing issues. If they are running for re-election, find out how they voted in 2017 on HB 2004 and vote accordingly. If they are challenging the incumbent, let them know how you feel to earn your vote.

The November elections will make up Oregon’s legislative session beginning in February 2019.What’s at stake? How far will the State go on dismantling property owners’ rights? No one knows for sure, but I’m sure that if you could see the writing on the wall, it would spell R-E-N-T -C-O-N-T-R-O-L.

Ron Garcia, RHA Oregon President