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Portland Leaders Look At ‘Controversial’ Tenant Reforms Today

Portland, Oregon – Should people with prior criminal convictions be allowed to rent apartments in Portland? How much income do you need to qualify as a renter? Should those laws change? Today Portland City Leaders will consider some tenant reforms brought forward by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Some consider them to be controversial. Renters and housing rights advocates support the ideas saying it will increase housing availability to some in need. But many developers and landlords oppose the measures. Portland Tribune reports The city attorney’s office says there could be some legal problems with some of the provisions.

Click Here to read more from the Portland City Council Agenda.

Recently A locally based housing rights group, Multifamily NW The Association Promoting Quality Rental Housing, emailed the KXL newsroom laying out what they thought were the top concerns in these provisions. Here’s what they said:

Despite tweaks to the original language that was before city council in April, the proposals continue to be very harmful to Portland’s housing.

Issues with criminal screening
It removes safety provisions for existing renters, like screening for serious criminal backgrounds.
Many will not want to use the Threshold criteria because it doesn’t adequately protect the other residents.
Prevents denial for anyone with a misdemeanor for over 3 years from sentencing. All misdemeanors are not created equal. This would include several categories of sex offenses, property crimes like arson, theft and burglary.
Prevents denial after 7 years for any felony which would include aggravated murder.

Issues with Identification
Any non-governmental document or combination of would allow for verification of identity.

Administrative Burden/Denials
The confusing and complicated ordinance language is still 10 pages
A high level of legal knowledge will be required to write a Notice of Denial and will likely result in an attorney needing to be consulted.
Continues to provide an excessive administrative burden which will be particularly difficult for those who are managing affordable communities.

Income Verification
This proposal purports to protect renters, but in fact it hurts the very people it’s supposed to be protecting.
Now even more confusing by tying it to MFI: under 80% MFI 2.5x the rent and over 80% MFI 2x rent. These low-income thresholds create insecurity and create high burdens for residents.
It removes consumer guardrails that prevent renters from entering into financially risky housing situations, leading to an increase in for-cause evictions
In many cases, lenders will not finance construction of new multifamily developments without three times the rent ratio – meaning this policy directly conflicts with the City’s own goals of expanding the housing supply. This proposal will undeniably stifle the growth in the supply of housing.
It leaves many property owners in the position of being unable to afford the cost of repairing major damage caused by prior tenants, and disincentives upgrading units to provide better quality housing to renters.

Security Deposit Burdens
Deposit limits do not sufficiently cover typical damage risk of a tenancy
Carpet provision does not assign fair resident responsibility
Depreciated value calculation from original receipts is impossible in many instances, creating an immediate loss for housing provider
It leaves many property owners in the position of being unable to afford the cost of repairing major damage caused by prior tenants, and disincentives upgrading units to provide better quality housing to renters.

 



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