Portland Landlords Outraged by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s Proposal to Limit Screenings of Tenant Criminal History

Screening criteria and security deposit legislation will go before Council in September.

Apartments on North Williams Avenue. (WW archives)

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is asking Portland City Council to consider new rules around tenant screenings and security deposits next month.

The screening policy is likely to be particularly controversial—because it restricts a landlord's ability to reject potential tenants based on their criminal history, credit history or financial stability.

Under the proposed rules, landlords couldn't set a policy requiring tenants to have an income that is more than twice their monthly rent when the current industry practice is usual 3 times or 2.5 times the rent.

Landlords are already crying foul.

"It's activism run amok," says Ron Garcia, president of the Rental Housing Alliance. "They're requiring landlords to becomes social workers and psychologists."

WW first reported in May that her office was working on the policy that would require landlords to take into account exculpatory factors for renting history, credit and criminal background.

The current draft legislation calls on landlords to generally accept tenants with some past criminal history, or justify why they view them as a threat to property or safety of an apartment complex. The policy includes convictions that were over three years ago for felony assault and battery, misdemeanor domestic violence, robbery offenses that involved no weapons, and sex offenses that did not involve force.

The security deposit legislation, meanwhile, has been in the works since Eudaly entered office. The policy, per the current draft, would limit to security deposits to half of a month's rent in case's where last month's rent is required. The screening criteria is also designed to prohibit landlords from taking security deposits for ordinary "wear-and-tear."

The Oregonian reported this morning that Eudaly had posted on Facebook Aug. 14 that the policies would go before Council.

"The policy is designed to:

Reduce barriers to housing

Prevent discrimination

Limit security deposit requirements

Get more Portlanders into safe living situations," she wrote on Facebook.

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