Families ‘could end up on street’ as rent is doubled

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Families living at a Northeast Portland apartment complex have learned their rent is about to double.

Come April 1, some say they’ll have no choice but to move out of 18-unit Normandy Apartments on Northeast Killingworth Street.

A total of 26 children who live at these apartments attend nearby Rigler Elementary School. Many of the impacted children attend Rigler because of the school’s dual-language immersion program. The principal said they’re doing everything they can to support families, with the goal of having them stay nearby.

On Tuesday, the school held a community meeting, bringing together families, elected officials and community groups who are all trying to find a solution.

Public records show the Normandy Apartments were sold in late December 2016. That’s when tenants say a property management company let them know about an April rent increase.

One resident, Jennifer Bollinger, said her rent is going from $620 per month to $1,250 per month. She and others living there say they have no idea what they’re going to do.

“So yeah, it’s just not OK that they can do this to people because families could end up on the streets, you know,” said Bollinger, who has 3 kids.Property management statement

Meanwhile, First Class Property Management said it cares deeply about the residents. The company said the property owners are raising the rent so they can begin making much needed repairs after years of neglect by previous owners.

First Class Property Management released a statement after concerns from members of the community about the sudden rent hike. It clarified that the company didn’t own the property and merely managed the apartment complex:

“This means that we are bound by contract to honor the owner’s decisions regarding the property. This includes all rent increases as long as they are within legal guidelines.” Read the entire letter here.

The company added it has to “walk the line” between serving both the property owner and the residents. First Class Property Management acknowledged that things get difficult when it is someone’s home at stake and a property owner’s investment that the company is obligated to protect.

Commissioner Eudaly’s proposal

Inspired by similar situations over rent increases and families being forced to leave their neighborhoods behind, newly-elected Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has proposed an ordinance that would require landowners to pay moving costs for tenants that have their rents raised past a certain amount. That amount is a rent increase of 10% or more within a 12-month period.

During her campaign, Eudaly called for quick action to protect renters. Now that she’s a city commissioner, she’s working toward that goal.

If the ordinance passes, it’ll require the moving costs to be given to tenants within 2 weeks of receiving the landowner’s notice that rent is going up. Moving costs would be paid in the following amounts:

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

Current law requires a written 90-day notice of termination to be given to tenants if rent or associated housing costs rise by 5% or more in a 12-month period.This is the ordinance proposed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly:

This could be seen as an alternative to Portland establishing a local rent control ordinance, which is illegal under state law.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, has filed a bill to remove the state’s ban on rent control, allow city and counties to adopt rent stabilization programs (with certain restrictions) and impose a temporary moratorium on rent increases greater than 5% for residential tenancies (with some exceptions).

A second bill filed by other legislators simply aims to get rid of the state’s ban on rent control. Both will face opposition from House Republicans.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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