Oregon has become the first state to adopt mandatory statewide rent control, putting limits in place for how much landlords are able to raise rent per year and offering protections against eviction.
In recent years, the state has seen a population boom, causing the median rent to increase by 14%. Residents of Portland have been hit the hardest; their rents have skyrocketed by 30% since 2011, according to The New York Times.
The new law states that landlords may only increase rents by 7% annually in addition to the change in the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation. The bill also offers new protections against eviction by prohibiting no-cause evictions after the first year of residency.
Oregon is one of many states trying to figure out what to do when rent increases but wages don’t. Last year, California voters shot down a proposition to repeal a law that prevented cities from enacting certain types of rent control. Those against rent control laws say they lead landlords to take properties off the market, making the housing crisis worse:
“While the intent of rent control laws is to assist lower-income populations, history has shown that rent control exacerbates shortages, makes it harder for apartment owners to make upgrades and disproportionally benefits higher-income households,” Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, which represents the apartment industry, said in a statement Tuesday about the Oregon bill.
But as homelessness reaches unprecedented levels along the West Coast, Oregon governor Kate Brown says the move might buy a bit of time while the people in charge figure out what to do about the fact that there aren’t enough places for non-rich people to live:
“There is no single solution — not one entity, or one person — that can solve Oregon’s housing crisis,” Brown said in a statement. “This new legislation is one of many actions Oregon needs to take to address our housing crisis. While it will provide some immediate relief, we need to focus on building supply in order to address Oregon’s housing challenges for the long term.”