Editor's Note: This article appeared in the "Oregonian" earlier this week. Although the article's focus is Seattle and Portland and apartment rent this debate on rent will likely generate several rent control bills in the 2017 Oregon Legislature that will likely impact manufactured home communities. MHCO continues to monitor the political situation and educate Oregon Legislators. However, articles like this make it certain that urban legislators will seek some form of rent control.
A Seattle city councilmember has proposed severely curtailing the amount of cash new renters need to plunk down to move in, The Seattle Times reports.
The bold move is sure to hit on a hot-button issue for renters in the Emerald City – as well as up and down the West Coast, where rents have continued to rapidly climb in recent years.
Over the past year, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have led the nation in greatest percentage growth. Seattle's year-to-year rents increased 9.7 percent, which was four times the national rate. Portland ranked second at 9 percent and San Francisco at 7.4 percent, according to Zillow.com. Denver was fourth at 5.9 percent.
In Seattle, the average rent in June was a scorching $2,031 per month, according to Zillow.com. In Portland, it was lower, but still a sizzling $1,764 per month.
Think that's high? Keep in mind that in San Francisco, rents last month averaged nearly $3,400 per month.
Take a second for all of that to sink in. And now, back to Seattle, where City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has proposed limiting move-in fees — including a security deposit and any nonrefundable, one-time payments — to no more than the cost of one month's rent.
Sawant's proposal, made last week, also would require landlords to allow renters to pay their move-in fees in installments rather than immediately and in full. Landlords asking for last month's rent up front would also likewise be required to accept that sum in installments.
Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Mike O'Brien will support Sawant's proposed ordinance, they said. But Washington's Rental Housing Association, a trade group for landlords, will not.
In Oregon, state lawmakers haven't legislated any restrictions on the amount of money renters have to come up with in order to move in, according to the rental law tracking site Landlordology.
But Portland leaders have talked about other ways to help out renters.
In 2015, Portland began requiring that owners of rental properties give tenants 90 days of written notice before raising their rents by 5 percent or more, or when terminating a lease without cause.
But hitting the problem head-on – that is, putting a cap on rents – hasn't been an option in Oregon. Oregon forbids cities and counties from enacting rent control laws. But changing state law has been talked about – as recently as a 2015 town hall discussion in Portland.
-- Aimee Green and The Associated Press