Portland Landlords Now Required to Pay Moving Costs for Tenants Evicted Without Cause

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly's tenant protection ordinance passes City Council by a vote of 5-0.

Chloe Eudaly celebrates victory Nov. 8, 2016 at Holocene. (Christine Dong)

Portland City Council voted unanimously tonight for an emergency ordinance to require many landlords to pay moving costs for tenants they evict without cause.

The requirement to pay moving costs also applies to rent increases of 10 percent or more within a 12-month period.

The rule is effective immediately.

Landlords with only one rental unit in Portland were granted an exemption to the city rule. It will require payments of between $2,900 and $4,500, depending on the number of bedrooms.

It will be in effect at least until October when the housing emergency declared by City Hall expires, assuming Council does not extend the emergency.

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Mayor Ted Wheeler, who both campaigned on promise of providing better protections to Portland tenants, brought forward the proposal.

"This is the only tool the city of Portland has to protect tenants," Eudaly said before casting the final vote.

She made it clear that this policy is but her first step in an aggressive agenda to change city rules to benefit renters. She is asking the Oregon Legislature to overturn a statewide ban on rent control and to let cities outlaw "no-cause" evictions.

It's the first major policy change of the new City Council. 

During her campaign for City Council, Eudaly supported creating a rent freeze in Portland even in advance of state legislative changes, but says now she has been convinced by city lawyers that such an action is unworkable.

She was the lone member of Council to vote against an amendment that exempts small-time landlords. The ordinance was also amended today to include a "sabbatical" exception for landlords who rent out their home for a fixed term of not more than three years.

The ordinance will also apply in situations where the evictions and rent increases have already been issued—places that include two large buildings that last month warned of evictions or rent hikes in coming months.

Landlords can rescind the previous notices or pay up.

"It huge step forward in terms of renter protections as they exist in the community today," said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The mayor withdrew a companion resolution aimed increasing the supply of affordable housing. Instead, he's directing the Housing Bureau to find ways to build affordable and workforce housing faster.

The vote came after more than five hours of sometimes combative testimony at City Hall both from tenants and landlords.

John DiLorenzo, a lawyer for the landlord organization Multifamily Northwest, says he will go to court as soon as tomorrow to challenge the ordinance. He has previously said the ordinance violates the state laws that allow landlords to ask tenants to move without a reason and prohibit and kind of rent control.

"It's not a narrowly tailored ordinance," he says. "It's really overreaching."

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