Oregon becomes first state to pass statewide rent control

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/28/oregon-becomes-first-state-to.html


Dang, Oregon is looking pretty cool these days.


This would have been nice for me around nine months ago, when my landlord wanted to raise my rent 35%. But I don’t really mind, because now I’m sharing a house with friends and paying 20% less than my old rent, instead.


A seven percent increase annually is over 30% in four years.


Hardly perfect, but it’s something. SF’s rent control (do they still have it?) was something like 1% + a mix of things (I think inflation and CPI), but it also essentially dictated rental contacts: after the initial contact period you went month to month automatically, with limitations on when a landlord could end a contact. When a contact was over the landlord could charge whatever to the next tenant.

The weakness in both is the stupid exemption for new construction.

If over 50% of your income is going to rent, then an 8-12% increase per year is still devastating.


And more than 60% over the span from 2011 to 2018.

I would guess the 30% figure is the average, most rents didn’t increase much at all, and a few increased beyond all reason? Just like salaries.


Frankly rent controls should be linked to minimum wage in some way, so they can never inflate to silly levels…

Most businesses, if they thought about it for more than two seconds, should support this. As less money spent on rent = more money available to buy their products…


I’m guessing one of the reasons they could get rent control passed was by having that 7% figure.

Any chance we could get a bill with an annual salary increase to keep pace with an average of area rents? Le sigh.


For the most profitable businesses, selling items is completely auxillary to wealth extraction.


Hmm. Maybe they could tie rent control to proof of vaccination…

(Of course, most anti-vaxx scum own their own McMansions.)


This is great but yeah, it’s just not enough. For example at my current place i’m at i’ve made sure to take great care of the apartment to the best of my abilities, never be late with bills, etc and having to face rent increases for 2 years now, even if it was a little bit, is enough to push me toward finding rentals somewhere else.

Would really like to be able to afford to buy my own place but that’s at least 3-4 years out for me.


There’s an idea: rent can be increased by no more than that year’s increase in minimum wage.

Oops, @failquail’s idea exactly.


Statewide rent has rise 14% “in recent years.” Pretty critical to know how many years we’re talking about - so frustrating when journalists and politicians fail to do this. Turns out 14% is the statewide rise in 3 years; 14% over 3 years is about a 4.5% annual increase so below the “cap” they just established. Portland’s “30% since 2011” stat is similarly well below the 7% annual cap just established. So its a bit unclear what this actually does beyond allowing politicians to signal how woke they are and how much they care about “affordable housing”.


I lived in NYC in the 80s, and rent control had totally distorted the rental market, to the point where several generations would cling to an apartment with a vintage low rent that couldn’t be raised, and then landlords became desperate to turn over tenants every 5-10 years. It was a mess.

I wonder if better mass transit might be a better solution?


Everything I read about NYC’s rent control plan just sounded arcane and dumb.

A good rent control plan needs to:

  • Cover all buildings
  • Allow reasonable increases
  • Provide a comprehensive contact that protects the rights of renters and owners so that both parties always know where they stand

When the majority of SF buildings were under rent control it had a dampening effect on rents in general, so that while mortgages went through the roof, rents lagged then significantly. Now that there has been an enormous amount of new and exempt construction it sounds like the system is just collapsing.

NYC and SF could hardly have better public transit, certainly they are unmatched in the US.


Weren’t we discussing Oregon?

I’m no real estate professional, just a guy who had to find an apartment in NYC. I’m sure my meager knowledge is meager, but at least it’s ground-level.

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So expensive rent will get replaced with a big shortage of places to rent and landlords not keeping up their properties. Rent control is jumping from the frying pan into the fire.


Neither of those tropes ever occurred in SF when I was there, but we both were epidemics in my high school and college towns where there was no rent control and even less legal protection for renters.


Our rent went up 37% last year, though, and we’ve been expecting something closer to 10 or 15% this year. When rent was cheaper than a mortgage, it made sense to rent. Now that our rent is about the same as a mortgage (but will continue to rise, clearly), we’re doing everything we can to save, save, save and get into something we own. We’re probably another year away, so I can live with an annual cap of 7%.


It’s weird that there is a big difference in vaccination rates with little difference in the law, but Oregon has pretty high vaccination rates compared to Washington just across the river. Urban counties have 93-ish% (still not great) for Tdap vs. 78-82% for urban counties in Washington.

Not when combined with affordable housing funding: