Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Possible Changes Ahead for Housing Choice Landlord Guarantee Fund

According to an article in the Portland Mercury, the Housing Choice Landlord Guarantee Fund is running out of money, and state legislators and landlords alike are worrying about the consequences. The fund was created in 2013 in conjunction with a law that banned discrimination against tenants based on source of income, as a way to insure that landlords would be compensated if damage caused by a tenant was more than the tenant could afford to repay. As of January, the fund only had $115,000 remaining. Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek is blaming the shortfall on "abuses" by landlords. She has introduced House Bill 2944, which requires landlords to prove to a judge rather than a clerk that they are owed the damages they seek. Read more.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Multifamily NW Proposes Immediate Statewide Rental Assistance for up to 40,000 Families [Video]

Multifamily NW has proposed a renter assistance program that would eliminate the need to create massive government infrastructure to monitor and enforce rent controls at various cities and counties who might adopt such a plan. The Multifamily NW program could be easily enacted right away and would serve up to 40,000 families with proven need at minimal cost of oversight and implementation.


Multifamily Marketwatch - March 28, 2017 [Podcast]

In this episode, we discuss the latest news and stories of interest to owners of multifamily property and rentals in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metro area.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Multnomah County Property Tax Appeals Process Favors Assessor

According to a report today in the Portland Tribune, Multnomah County Board of Property Tax Appeals (BOPTA) hearings favor the county assessor. Critics of the process argue that frequently there is no representative from the assessor's office present at hearings, and property owners are not given supporting documents for the assessor's opinion until they walk into the hearing. Mike Vaughn, who replaced the previous assessor in July 2016, is working to improve the process. Previously, property owners had to request a copy of the county's report, which they paid 25 cents per page to view. Under Vaughn's new leadership, appellants are given a free one-page summary of the assessor's recommendation. Scott Phinney, a former Oregon Department of Revenue employee who now helps clients with property tax appeals throughout the state, says it is unusual that the assessor is not present at hearings. He also claims that the Multnomah County BOPTA panel generally only sides with his clients if the assessor's office concurs. Read more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The PHB Doesn't Have Time to Review Data

After the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) claimed in official budget documents that 400 apartment complexes in East Portland had outstanding code violations, the Oregonian double checked the numbers by comparing the city's list of code violations with a government database of multifamily properties. Reporters found that only 19 properties had code violations at that time. In response to a question about why the PHB had not reviewed the data themselves, top official Kurt Creager suggested that reporters have more time to perform reviews than housing officials do. On Tuesday, Creager told the Portland City Council, "we are committed to integrity in the data," but did not address how the PHB came up with the numbers in its budget request Read more.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Impact of Rent Control on Oregon's Housing Market

This article is written by Gerard C.S. Mildner, PhD, Director of the Center for Real Estate at Portland State University.


The Oregon State legislature is considering House Bill 2001, sponsored by the Speaker of House Tina Kotek, which would override the state’s prohibition on local rent control ordinances. HB 2001 has three provisions: (1) limit rent increases statewide to 5% for 2017-18, (2) permit any local jurisdiction in the state to enact rent control, and (3) modify the inclusionary zoning legislation that was passed in 2016. The challenge in analyzing this legislation is that no details are provided regarding the nature of the rent control legislation that the local jurisdiction may implement. No limits have been placed on local governments’ rent control power, except that a “fair return” to landlords must be provided. Discussing the efficiency of rent control legislation that hasn’t been enacted is rather like commenting on whether a baby is beautiful while the mother is still pregnant.

The Speaker’s Office has circulated an argument that the rent control that will be implemented after this legislation is passed will be “second generation” rent control, as defined by Canadian economist Dr. Richard Arnott. According to Dr. Arnott, second generation rent control is typified by limits on rent increases (rather than a rent freeze), prohibition of rent control on new construction, allowances for larger increases with rehabilitation and major improvement, and allowances of decontrol between tenancies, none of which is included in HB 2001. I believe the differences between first-generation and second-generation rent control are largely semantic, and if there is a difference, it’s really a degree of the harm that the legislation will generate.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Metro to Decide on Designating Urban Reserves April 13

The Metro Council has stated it will delay the decision to designate 23,031 acres for urban reserves until April 13th. The inclusion of the hamlet of Stafford in the designated acreage has caused objections from the cities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and West Linn. If certified, the acreage would be open to development for the next 50 years. The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland and Stafford Land Owners Association have endorsed the Metro Council's plans. Read more.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Using ADUs to Ease Housing Crunch

After last week's report that the permitting rate for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) is reaching the rate for single family homes, it appears as if private and public groups are trying to use this new trend to help ease the housing crunch in Oregon.

According to the Willamette Week, Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow for construction of ADUs on land zoned for agriculture (HB 2937). Opponents have expressed concerns that the housing will not truly be affordable, and will likely be used for short term vacation rentals rather than permanent housing.

The Willamette Week also reports that Multnomah County is offering to build ADUs in the backyards of homeowners on the condition that they are used for 5 years to house homeless residents. After that time, homeowners would be able to use those units at their discretion, and would receive the added value of an additional unit on their property.

The Portland Business Journal reports that former head of the PDC Patrick Quinton is starting a company called Dweller, which will install prefabricated ADUs on land leased from homeowners, and would also pay the owners a portion of the rent collected from tenants. Dweller will take care of the permitting process and partner with Living Room Realty for sales and marketing.