Few renters will get any benefit from Oregon’s first-of-its-kind rent control law in the next few years, a Portland State University report says.
The new law caps annual rent increases at 7% plus inflation, for a total of 10.3% this year. But the annual outlook report from Portland States’s Northwest Economic Research Center says median rent growth has slowed to just 1.9% a year since 2016.
“If we’re concerned right now about affordable rents, this is not something that’s going to make much of a difference," said report author Tom Potiowsky.
That could change in the future, said Potiowsky, who directs the center and previously served as the state economist. At their peak in 2016, median rents climbed by as much as 9%, and the law could prove more effective in a boom cycle.
Legislators who backed the bill earlier this year acknowledged it would rein in only the biggest increases. They likened it to an anti-gouging measure that would, when paired with the law’s ban on evictions without cause, prevent landlords from using rent hikes to force out tenants. Some lawmakers said they would lower the allowed rent increases if it were politically viable.
Economists generally aren’t fans of rent control measures, and Potiowsky’s suggested solution isn’t to impose a stricter cap.
Instead, he said the state should focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing and increasing housing assistance vouchers to reduce homelessness.