Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweeping Changes Proposed For Portland's Landlord Tenant Ordinances

Among other things, proposed sweeping changes to Portland's landlord ordinances would include a provision requiring all owners who rent even a single property to a tenant to obtain a business license. Previously owners who rented up to 9 units were exempt from the provision.

Other proposed changes, put together over the past three months by a city task force dubbed the Quality Rental Housing Workgroup (QRHW) include (among others) the following requirements:


  • "Temporary" (no end date specified) $8-$10 per unit fee per year to help fund program start-up

  • Sets various levels of inspections. Initial inspections can be triggered by anonymous tenant complaints, social services, police or fire referrals, unit-specific exterior violations observed by a Neighborhood Inspections Team, or three years of unpaid property taxes

  • Requires landlords to send copies of all termination notices to a Neighborhood Inspection Team

  • Substantially increases fines for violations and they accumulate monthly until a problem is resolved. Fines range from $300-$500 per month by unit and if not resolved result in double and triple those amounts per month

  • Makes history of property violations permanently available to renters/general public (lenders, insurers, etc.) via Internet

  • Adds information on number of inspections, violations, status of remediation and enforcement (including appeals), inspection schedules, fees assessed and collected by property tax ID and by unit at each rental property, with information on ownership at the time of violations

  • Funds a full-time attorney to provide advice and representation to tenants living at or below 80% median family income

These recommendations (and others) represent significant changes that will affect all rental unit owners! The draft recommendations were made available to the public on August 12, 2008 and the public hearing on the changes takes place on Wednesday, September 3rd at 6 p.m. (public testimony 7 p.m.) at the Multnomah County Building, Commission Room, located at 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd., in Portland.

The workgroup draft document is currently 64 pages and is available online at the city of Portland’s web site at http://www.portlandonline.com/bhcd/index.cfm?c=48233.