Ruling expected in Portland landlord policy lawsuit

PDX landlords filed lawsuit against new city ordinance

Housing in Portland. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Multnomah County judge will make a ruling Thursday in the lawsuit filed by two Portland rental property owners against the city’s new ordinance that requires landlords to pay moving costs for tenants that have their rents raised past a certain amount.

The ordinance was passed unanimously by the Portland City Council on February 2. Groups will be outside of the courthouse Thursday morning during the ruling in support of the city. 

The ordinance requires landlords to pay moving costs to tenants within 2 weeks of receiving the landowner’s notice that rent is going up by 10% or more within a 12-month period.

Payment varies based on apartment size as seen below:

  • Studio apartment – $2,900
  • One-bedroom apartment – $3,300
  • 2-bedroom apartment – $4,200
  • 3-bedroom apartment (or larger) – $4,500

This was seen by some as a workaround to Oregon’s rent control ban. Under state law rent control ordinances are illegal.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Phillip E. Owen and Michael Feves. It claims Portland’s new ordinance violates state and federal law in at least 4 ways.

  1. It “controls the rent that may be charged for the rental of any dwelling unit,” which violates ORS 91.225.
  2. It conflicts with ORS 90.427 which “authorizes no-cause terminations of tenancies by imposing significant financial burdens on lessors who utilize the no-cause termination procedure.”
  3. The ordinance “expressly applies” to existing leases and therefore impairs contracts in violation of state and federal law.
  4. The ordinance constitutes undue oppression in violation of the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution by placing heavy financial burdens on lessors.

The lawsuit also claims the “Tenant Relocation Ordinance” is “procedurally infirm” because the Portland City Council didn’t follow its own procedural rules in adopting the ordinance and improperly delegating authority to draft vague and ambiguous “conceptual amendments” to City Attorney Tracy Reeve.