Oregon’s Push for Statewide Rent Control Worries Experts

February 28, 2019

The advancement of a bill in the Oregon state legislature to impose statewide rent control—a practice the National Association of REALTORS® vehemently opposes—is a threat to the housing market, particularly if other states follow suit, real estate industry experts say. “[The bill] will worsen the imbalance between housing supply and demand by allowing for rent control across the state,” Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, told USA Today. “While the intent of rent control laws is to assist lower-income populations, history has shown that rent control exacerbates shortages, makes it harder for apartment owners to make upgrades, and disproportionately benefits higher-income households.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has vowed to sign the bill, which passed the House this week and would cap annual rent increases at 7 percent. While the bill would still allow landlords to raise rents each year, it would stop price gougers, according to an analysis by the Statesman Journal. Supporters of the bill argue that rent control is the first step in addressing the lack of affordable housing. “With this historic vote, Oregon lawmakers have recognized that basic protections for renters are essential as the state and local communities work to increase the supply of housing for people with moderate and low incomes,” Patty Wentz of Stable Homes for Oregon Families told USA Today.

Other states have different versions of rent control laws. The New York legislature is considering extending New York City–style rent control measures to upstate residents. California, which doesn’t have a statewide mandate, enforces limitations on local governments that want to enact rent control laws. And in Illinois, proposed legislation would repeal the current statewide prohibition on rent control.

NAR says rent control infringes on private property rights and believes a better way to protect the rental market is through local and state zoning laws. “The National Association of REALTORS® recognizes the need in this nation to produce rental housing and preserve the current rental housing stock,” according to the association’s own rent control policy. “NAR encourages states and municipalities to adopt zoning laws and building codes, or other legislation that encourage the construction of rental dwellings. Rent control and rent stabilization are infringements upon private property rights. NAR opposes current and future rent control and rent stabilization laws on both residential and commercial properties. NAR encourages local and state REALTOR® associations to oppose any legislative measure allowing for rent control or rent stabilization efforts.”