SALEM, OR -- A controversial rent control bill that passed the Oregon Senate this week would hurt rental tenants, according to one local lawmaker. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says SB 608 will not improve the affordable housing crisis, "This bill, I don't think actually solves the problem. I think, in several ways, I think it's going to make the problem worse for the very people that the proponents are trying to help."
The bill passed 17-11, with Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) joining Republicans in opposition. Knopp says it was rushed through with no discussion of possible changes. Housing Committee Vice Chair Fred Girod (R-Stayton) offered five amendments, one of which would have allowed property owners time to prepare before the legislation takes effect; but none was considered. Knopp tells KBND News, "This bill doesn't do anything to add supply of new units to the mix, and it was done by special interests on both sides who agreed on the bill before the hearing even happened, and they wouldn't allow any changes to the bill and I think that's a disturbing trend that every Oregonian should be concerned about."
Under SB 608 rent increases would be limited to 7%, plus the cost of living increase. And, no-cause evictions could would have to meet certain criteria if a tenant has lived there longer than a year. That criteria includes moving a close family into a unit, making major repairs, turning it into a primary residence or demolition. Senator Knopp believes rents could increase as much as 10% a year, if the bill passes. Also, "I expect many rentals will be sold, especially single family homes. I've already been contacted by multiple investors who've said that they're just getting out of the industry altogether, because they just don't like what's coming and they want to be able to manage their own property." He adds, "There will likely be dozens if not hundreds of people who will receive eviction notices."
The bill is now in the state House; Governor Kate Brown has said she supports it.