PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Lawmakers in Salem heard testimony on Monday regarding a bill that would change Oregon’s rent control law four years after it was passed.  

Lawmakers say SB 611 is in response to double-digit rent increases across the state that tenant advocates say are leading to homelessness.

Landlord and property management groups are against the bill, saying because of the pandemic, the 2019 law hasn’t had a chance to work.

Meanwhile, supporters of the bill say even with the rent control law on the books, people are still being hit with rent increases worth hundreds of dollars a month. 

Current law caps rent increases at 7% plus inflation, which meant a 14.6% cap in 2023 — just below the 15% max.

The current bill would change that to 5% plus inflation — maxing out at 8%.

Developers who testified on Monday said this would disincentivize development, making Oregon’s housing shortage worse.

Now, an amendment is being considered to change the formula to 5% plus inflation but no higher than 10%.

Renter Patricia Sylvester told KOIN 6 News she feels like she can’t get ahead working three jobs as she faces a rent increase of around $100 a month.

Before Oregon passed rent control in 2019, Sylvester was homeless for 20 months — priced out by rent increases.

“If I don’t work the jobs that I work and force my income to be higher, to keep up with the cost of living in this city, I will have to relocate to someplace else. I will have to go somewhere where my dollar can stretch farther,” Sylvester said.

The director of rental housing provider Multifamily Northwest, Deborah Imse said, “it doesn’t make sense to go in and do things that further restrict developers from coming into this to this state, when they can easily make a choice to develop in other places that don’t have these kinds of restrictions.”

Advocates say loopholes in the 2019 law have led to double-digit precent rent increases — costing some families hundreds of dollars.

Currently, Oregon law exempts buildings built in the last 15 years from rent increases. Right now, the bill would limit that to three years, but in response to concerns from developers, amendments are being considered to either keep it at 15 or raise the limit to buildings built in 10 years.