SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A controversial proposal to ban most no-cause evictions has passed the Oregon House.
House Bill 2004 was approved Tuesday by a 31-27 vote and now heads to the Senate after weeks of contentious debate.
It attempts to address Oregon's housing crisis by creating protections for tenants living month-to-month, who are often most vulnerable to sudden rent hikes and abrupt lease terminations.
The proposal offers many exceptions, but it generally bans no-cause evictions for month-to-month tenants after the first six months and requires 30 days' written notice.
If 90 days notice is provided, landlords would owe tenants payment equal to one month's rent if they provide reason or three months' rent if no cause is stated.
Cities would also be allowed to set their own rent-control programs within their jurisdictions.
News release from House Democrats:
Oregon House Takes Major Steps to Protect Tenants from Extreme Rent Spikes, No-Cause Evictions
SALEM – Today the Oregon House of Representatives took a major step to protect tenants from extreme rent increases and no-cause evictions – practices which have become more common in hot housing markets around the state.
House Bill 2004, which passed by a vote of 31-27, establishes a just cause eviction standard and ends the statewide prohibition on cities and counties implementing local rent stabilization measures.
Rep. Karin Power (D – Milwaukie), a chief sponsor of the bill, shared a story of one of her constituents during today’s floor debate:
“A 72-year-old woman who lives in my district visited me in Salem this month. She and her husband have received a no-cause eviction three times in the last year and a half. Meanwhile, rents are sky-rocketing throughout our community. I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety this has caused her, and others like her who have also asked for my help. Each move cuts ever-deeper into their savings. I believe the reform to landlord-tenant law in House Bill 2004 will help make sure that our communities are stable and neighbors continue to thrive.”
HB 2004 establishes a just cause eviction standard that allows for no-cause termination during the first six months of occupancy. After six months, a landlord may terminate a month-to-month tenancy only for cause, which includes all current available tenant fault-based causes. It also allows for landlords to evict for business or personal reasons, including:
- Landlord intends in good faith to make repairs or renovations and offers the unit to the tenant following the repairs and/or renovations;
- Landlord intends to convert the unit to a non-residential use or demolish it;
- Landlord has accepted an offer to purchase a unit from someone who intends to use it as a primary residence;
- Landlord or immediate family member plans to move into the unit as a primary residence.
If a landlord decides to issue evictions for business or personal reasons, they must give 90-day notice, and they must provide one month’s rent for moving expenses – unless they own four or fewer units. The just cause standard does not apply to landlords who live on the same property as the tenant and have two or fewer units.
Rep. Carla Piluso (D – Gresham), who co-sponsored the bill, spoke during the floor debate about her experience as a former law enforcement officer and as President of the Board of a local nonprofit in her district, Human Solutions.
“I have personally witnessed the challenges facing survivors after they leave a violent relationship. Once survivors leave an abusive situation, one of the most important steps to rebuilding their lives is to secure safe, stable housing. Unfortunately, affordable housing is increasingly difficult to find. When faced with a no-cause eviction or a dramatic and unplanned rent increase, survivors are often left with a heart-wrenching choice — homelessness, or returning to their abusers. Colleagues, we need to do something now to stabilize these incredibly vulnerable tenants.”
The bill also removes the statewide prohibition on cities and counties implementing local rent stabilization ordinances for residential rental units. If local jurisdictions choose to develop a local ordinance, HB 2004 ensures protections for property owners if those rent stabilization measures are implemented. These include:
- A fair rate of return;
- A process for landlords to request an exception when necessary to allow for a fair rate of return;
- Exempts any new residential development for a period of five years.
“Solving this crisis will require many approaches – including increasing the supply of housing and preservation of existing housing units. But we need stronger tenant protections too,” said Rep. Chris Gorsek (D – Troutdale), another co-sponsor of the legislation. “House Bill 2004 is an important part of addressing the emergency that too many families find themselves in.”
The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.
News release from House Republicans:
House Republicans on HB 2004: Wrong solution to a real problem
Salem, Ore. - House Democrats today passed a restrictive rent control bill that will place a significant burden on a housing and rental market that is already facing tremendous pressure. Republicans, joined by several Democrats, argued the legislation would exacerbate Oregon’s housing crisis by pushing property owners out of the rental market and shrinking the supply of available units, discouraging property owners from reinvesting in their own units by restricting their ability to turn a profit, and subjecting Oregon’s rental market to a patchwork of complicated regulations.
“Oregon working families are struggling under the weight of increasing rents and a lack of affordable housing,” said Representative Kennemer (R-Canby). “This is an issue that impacts Oregonians in every corner of the state, and one that deserves attention from our Legislature. But for all its good intentions, HB 2004 would be a step backward for Oregon. It would lead to a reduction in the number of rentable units on the market, disincentivize investment in units that remain on the market, and would ultimately lead to an even less affordable future.”
If HB 2004 is signed into law, the bill would:
- Strip some property owners of their right to independently set rates of rent for their own properties.
- Allow local politicians to set a “fair rate of return” for private investments.
- Severely undermine a property owner’s ability to make decisions about their own units -- even punishing them by forcing them to pay for a tenant’s relocation fees in certain circumstances.
- Subject landlords to a complicated patchwork of rent regulations that may be markedly different from one jurisdiction to the next.
House Republicans have long championed alternative approaches to combating Oregon’s housing affordability crisis, including: incentivizing the construction of new affordable units by reducing barriers to their development, speeding up the permitting process for new construction, and modernizing Oregon’s land-use system to be more accommodating to the state’s rapid population growth.
“Our state’s affordability crisis is the product of a basic breakdown in the laws of supply and demand,” said Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver). “It is long past time for us to pursue policies that will lead to an increase in the supply of affordable housing in communities across the state and drive down rents in the process. By eliminating barriers to construction and development today, we can make progress toward a more affordable tomorrow.”
HB 2004 passed on a 31-27 vote, with two Democrats joining Republicans in opposition to the legislation. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.
News release from Stable Homes for Oregon Families:
Tenants, landlords, advocates praise passage of House Bill 2004 through Oregon House of Representatives
Salem, Ore. – On Tuesday, the Oregon House approved HB 2004A, which protects Oregon renters from no-cause evictions while preserving property rights for landlords. The bill will also give local communities the legal right to create common sense rent stabilization policies that work best for local renters and landlords.
HB 2004A was amended prior to passage to exempt small landlords and reduce the relocation expenses for renters who are evicted without cause. This compromise bill now heads to the Oregon Senate with the full support of a broad coalition of Oregonians working for stable housing legislation.
Upon passage, Oregon tenants, landlords and advocates released the following statements:
“Passage of HB 2004 is important to renters who have faced no-cause evictions. My decades of excellent rental history were meaningless when it happened to me. Without HB 2004, there is absolutely no recourse for the renter as long as the landlord hides behind no-cause, no-reason evictions,” Leela Coleman.
“With over 1,800 units statewide, we have very few evictions and only use for-cause notices. House Bill 2004 treats our residents fairly and keeps our properties strong,” Martha McClennan, Executive Director, Northwest Housing Alternatives
“Today’s vote in favor of HB 2004 is good news for Oregon communities. This legislation creates certainty for renters and landlords by creating a legal standard for evictions with cause and lease termination. It also gives local jurisdictions the right to set their own rent stabilization policies, working with tenants and landlords in their communities,” Pam Phan, Policy and Organizing Director for the Community Alliance of Tenants, on behalf of Stable Homes for Oregon Families.
About Stable Homes for Oregon Families
Secure Homes for Oregon Families is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals with a shared goal of creating housing stability, fairness and predictability for Oregon families. Members of the Secure Homes for Oregon Families coalition include the Community Alliance of Tenants, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, Urban League, Oregon AFL-CIO, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, APANO, Oregon Housing Alliance, Oregon Opportunity Network, Unite Oregon, and Fair Shot for All.
To learn more about Stable Homes for Oregon Families, visit www.stablehomesor.org