PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland City Council is considering changes to a city ordinance meant to protect renters after landlords sued the city over the new rules.
In 2020, the City of Portland passed protections for renters during the screening process and security deposit return. Those new rules were to ensure renters would not be discriminated against or taken advantage of financially.
But in-state and out-of-state landlords took issue with it.
A rental industry group and two landlords sued the City of Portland over the new housing screening and security deposit rules — claiming they are unconstitutional.
According to the lawsuit, the ordinances Portland City Council passed in 2020 violate landlord’s free speech, are too vague, have penalties that are costly and burdensome, and appear to conflict with state law.
Now, city leadership will soon vote to amend the ordinance.
“The settlement being proposed today would resolve the lawsuit without the payment of any monetary damages or attorney’s fees, but with a number of changes to the existing city code,” Deputy City Attorney Mallory Beebe said.
Renter advocates say the changes completely defeat the purpose of the protections.
“Essentially the city saying that they’re going to choose prioritizing a very small group of rich landlords over the majority of Portlanders,” Alli Sayre, of Portland Tenants United, explained.
Portland Tenants United opposes the city’s current proposal, which removes the security deposit depreciation rule, nixes the requirement of walkthroughs with renters, and takes away the third-party mediator in the event of a dispute.
“We think it’s perfectly fair that if we didn’t create, any damage above regular wear and tear, we should get that deposit back, landlords wanna keep it all for themselves. And with these important protections removed from the fair ordinance, that’s exactly what landlords gonna be able to do once again,” Sayre said.
Meanwhile, the rental industry group that brought on the lawsuit called the settlement a win for advocates of “common sense housing policy” — saying in a statement in part “moving forward we urge lawmakers to stop treating housing providers as bad actors and instead collaborate with them on concrete solutions that will actually address our serious housing crisis.”
Portland City Council is set to vote on these changes to renter protections next week.