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Faced With Rent Hike, East Portland Tenants Plaster Landlord's Neighborhood With Fliers

“Who wants to live nextdoor to a slumlord during Portland's housing crisis?”

The tenants of an East Portland apartment complex facing a 40-percent rent hike have tried to get their landlord's attention for over a month.

They've posted an open letter on Medium, gotten over 400 signatures on an online petition, and demonstrated outside the office of the property management company overseeing the building.

Now, the tenants, along with Portland Tenants United organizers, have taken the battle to the landlord's neighborhood in Southwest Portland—by plastering it with fliers.

On Tuesday, the tenants handed out fliers to the neighbors of Landon Marsh, the property manager of the building, explaining the rent hike they're facing at their apartment complex. According to a Portland Tenants United press release today, also reported by The Portland Mercury, the fliers were posted on telephone poles and distributed to about 40 households in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood.

"Who wants to live nextdoor [sic] to a slumlord during Portland's housing crisis?" Portland Tenants United wrote on Facebook yesterday.

"Your neighbor Landon Marsh [address redacted]​ needs to hear from you," the flier reads. "His actions are threatening to displace all of the families living in the apartment complex he recently purchased​. All of us living in this complex face homelessness​ if Landon won't help."

Marsh says that he can't control the rent hike.

"It's really in A&G's hands," he told WW. "My hands are tied. We do understand that there's a lot of tension behind this."

The property management company—A&G Rental Management—has maintained that the rent hike is legal, and is simply a reflection of the current housing market.

"The ongoing influx of new people is driving up rents. Meanwhile, costs of maintaining and operating buildings are also going up," the company wrote in a press release last month. "A&G Rental Management prides itself in acting in a professional manner with tenants of apartments it manages, and attempts to maintain open communication with those tenants."

The tenants, who were notified in July that the rent for their two-bedroom apartments on SE Ash Street would be increased by as much as $375 a month, were given a small reprieve last month when the deadline for their decision about whether to sign the new lease was extended from Aug. 19 to Oct. 21.

But the tenants aren't satisfied. They don't want to be displaced from their home. They've organized, calling themselves the Ash Street Tenants Association. And they're demanding that the landlord and his property management company hold off rent increases of more than 5 percent until June 2017.

They threaten more protests if Marsh and A&G won't concede.

"This action will be the first of many until he agrees to treat his tenants with dignity," wrote Portland Tenants United organizer Shamus Cooke in the press release, "by rescinding the recent increases and negotiate with the Ash Street Tenants Association."

UPDATE, 5:47 p.m. Thursday: An email sent this afternoon by A&G Rental Management to tenant Aleina Langford implies that the rent hike was not decided by the property management company. Instead, a property manager says it's a result of Marsh's company purchasing the building.

"The fact is that the owner purchased the building, from its former owner, at Fair Market Value with the premise that the market rents were higher than what was currently being charged by the previous owner/management company," wrote A&G property manager Erlin Taylor to Langford.

"The property is not an income restricted property and therefore the owner is within his right to ask for rents that are comparable to the area and not to residents' income," Taylor wrote.

Margot Black, a Portland Tenants United organizer, said that both Marsh and his property manager are deflecting blame.

"A&G also seems to imply it's out of their [hands]! These rent increases are just forces of nature, I guess!" she wrote in an email to WW.