Friday, December 13, 2019

Portland Narrows Definition of "Retailer" for Clean Energy Tax

The Portland City Council voted to narrow the definition of "retailer" as it pertains to the city's Clean Energy tax. Mayor Wheeler and the three commissioners present at the meeting  voted to exempt construction companies, residential garbage services, and some retirement plans from having to pay the 1% surcharge on annual sales. Commissioner Nick Fish was absent. The city has lowered its revenue expectation by $10 million due to the code change. Read more.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Cascadia Region Has Too Many Large Housing Units

According to the Sightline Institute, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have significantly more homes with at least three bedrooms than there are families with three or more people. While recently cities have focused on building family-sized units due to a perceived oversupply of studios and one-bedrooms, homes in major metro areas may still be trending too large. In Portland, 49% of homes have at least three bedrooms, but only 34% of households have three or more residents. In Seattle, 38% of homes have at least three bedrooms while only 26% of households have at least three residents. Michael Anderson argues that this mismatch can be attributed to zoning laws that restrict where smaller homes can be built, making it difficult for households to downsize. While newer construction does tend to consist of smaller units, it appears that may be due to demand from smaller households. One- to two-person households account for 59% of the Portland area's housing growth since 2005. Anderson argues that addressing the oversupply of large homes will help free up some of those homes for larger families that do need them, but have been priced out. Read more.

New Oregon Law on Applicant Screening Fees Takes Effect January 1, 2020

Multifamily NW, the law firm of Greenspoon Marder and HFO Investment Real Estate would like to remind owners of multifamily properties in Oregon of the following new law, effective January 1, 2020. 

Beginning January 1, 2020, there are changes to Oregon Revised Statutes 90.295 relating to charging applicant screening fees.

The law now states: “A landlord may only require an applicant to pay a single applicant screening charge within any 60 day period, regardless of the number of rental units owned or managed by the landlord for which the applicant has applied to rent.”

Although this may be simple for landlords using only one set of screening criteria for all of their properties, it is much more complex for landlords with multiple screening criteria, especially when managing affordable housing. It also poses challenges for larger landlords managing many portfolios with applicants submitting applications at multiple sites. In those instances, we advise a company-wide system to allow for monitoring applications from various sources.

Additionally, rules governing screening charge refunds were clarified and are consistent with general industry practices. Landlords must refund applicant screening charges within a “reasonable time” if the landlord fills the vacant unit before screening the applicant or doesn’t screen the applicant. Landlords utilizing waitlists should refrain from processing screening charges until the applicant is the next available person on the waitlist.

Damages for failure to comply with this section are twice the amount paid by the applicant, plus $150. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please make sure you speak to an attorney to stay in compliance with this regulation.

Study: Rent Control Will Restrict Apartment Development, Resulting in Lower Tax Revenue for Cities

Recent findings by the National Apartment Association (NAA) reveal rent control’s potential effects on four major U.S. cities, including Portland and Seattle.

NAA’s analysis shows that these policies decrease the housing supply, harm the condition of existing housing stock and lower property values, which leads to lower tax revenues. These policies ultimately limit job growth and negatively affect local economies.

Read the summary.

Read and download the full 9-page report.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposes ban on residential evictions during winter

The Seattle Times reports that the councilmember's legislation would prohibit evictions from November 1 through March 31, regardless of the circumstances. She plans to bring her proposed city ordinance to the full council by the end of January, 2020. Read more. 

Olympia Landlords Say Proposed Renter Protections May Increase Rents

Landlords in Olympia and surrounding areas of Thurston County are complaining about the impacts of proposed changes to landlord/tenant laws by local governments. Read more.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - December 9, 2019

This week: Portland developers could be required to provide public space with room for tents under new design guidelines; a 13-year-old 100-unit apartment building owned by the City of Portland evacuated 22 tenants fearing potential roof collapse, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently visited the Emerald City for a special report on homelessness.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, December 6, 2019

PSC Narrowly Votes to Require Developers Build Space for Tents in New Design Guidelines

The Willamette Week reports that a narrow majority of Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission voted to approve a last-minute amendment to new design guidelines. The amendment changes language around outdoor space requirements for new developments – in addition to providing “opportunities to pause, sit and interact,” if the new guidelines are adopted developers will also be required to provide space where people can “rest and be welcome.” The change was proposed by Commissioner Oriana Magnera, who argued that there are people who need to rest on a “longer-term scale,” and that the benches provided by many developers outside of their buildings are not adequate for people who need or want to pitch a tent. The commission voted 5-4 to adopt the new language. The Commission plans to send its recommendations to the Design Commission December 17th – the Design Commission will then vote on a final set of recommendations that will be sent to the City Council. Read more.