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Renters Push New Rent Law, Say It's Not Enough

The governor signed the bill Thursday, making Oregon the first state in the nation to have such a law.

Posted: Mar. 1, 2019 7:52 PM
Updated: Mar. 1, 2019 7:56 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Landlords, renters, and property managers are trying to weed through the details when it comes to Oregon's new rent control law.

The governor signed the bill Thursday, making Oregon the first state in the nation to have such a law. 

Charles Rice, a Medford resident struggling with his rising rent, doesn't think the law goes far enough. He has lived in his two bedroom, one bathroom apartment in southwest Medford for about a decade. He says he's seen a $50 increase every year on his rent, which is now up to $850. 

He says it's a challenge to pay his rising rent because he is battling cancer and is on Social Security with a limited income. He wants to see a law that puts a monetary limit on how much landlords can raise rent each year. 

"They use percentage points," Rice says, talking about the new law. "I don't want to hear percentage points."

The law prevents landlords from raising rent higher than seven percent plus the consumer price index -- a benchmark of the average prices for most house purchases in the U.S.

Landlords also can't carry out no-cause evictions within a tenant's first year of occupancy — a provision designed to protect those living month-to-month, who are often most vulnerable to sudden rent hikes and abrupt lease terminations.

There are exemptions to the law, like if an owner has fewer than four units, or if a rental property has had its occupancy licenses less than 15 years. Senator Jeff Golden, (D - Ashland) says this is to ensure "that developers can recoup investment costs." 

Claude LaBaw, co-owner and president of My Favorite Property Management in Medford, says he thinks the seven percent plus the CPI is a good number.

"I don't think it's going to be that big of a problem, because most landlords don't raise their rent $300 - $400 in a year," LaBaw said. "Most landlords will raise them $100, $50, $25, depending on their expenses." 

For Rice, that's still too much. We reached out to his landlord, who works at Our Valley Properties LLC. All calls went straight to voicemail. Rice says he likes his neighborhood, but isn't sure what they're going to do to be able to stay. 

"We have nowhere to go," Rice said. 

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