Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Mayor Ted Wheeler have proposed an ordinance that would require landlords to pay to relocate tenants when they face a no-cause eviction.
Both were elected with promises of relief for tenants squeezed in the housing crisis.
Eudaly said the ordinance sets relocation fees of $2,900-$4,500, based on the size of the rental unit. She acknowledged, while the ordinance might have a cooling effect on evictions if passed, she sees it as a cost-sharing measure.
“I want to remind everyone we are all paying for this housing crisis,” Eudaly said. “It’s extraordinarily expensive for the city, county and state to keep dealing with this ever-increasing tide of people losing housing or at risk of losing their housing.”
Eudaly said the city is asking landlords to share some of the burden, and notes the ordinance does not prohibit rent increases or ban no-cause evictions outright.
John DiLorenzo, an attorney who has lobbied the Oregon Legislature on behalf of property owners, likened the proposal to a de facto penalty for rent increases, and thus vulnerable to a court challenge.
He added the purpose of no-cause evictions is to protect landlords and the community from bad actors.
“If all landlords had available were for-cause eviction proceedings,” DiLorenzo wrote via email, “the tenants who complained [about bad neighbors] would have to testify against neighbors. They would be very hesitant to do that.”
Eudaly said the ordinance was written with an eye to resisting a possible challenge.
Within the broader context of the city’s conversation about tenant relief, Eudaly said the ordinance is an alternative to a rent freeze.
“I don’t think a rent freeze is possible,” Eudaly said, “and we certainly wouldn’t be pursuing that in addition to this relocation ordinance.”
Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Feb. 2.