Could Rent-Hike Relief Be On the Way for Portlanders?
PORTLAND, Maine -- Relief could be on the way for the more than 60 percent of Portland residents who are renters.
Affordable housing advocates plan to deliver signatures on a petition Monday to Portland City Hall, calling for a rent-stabilization ordinance to be on the November ballot. Jack O'Brien with Fair Rent Portland said Portland has a lot in common with much bigger cities, like New York and Miami, when it comes to rent hikes spurred by gentrification.
"We've had more than 40 percent increases over the last five years; we're the second-fastest in the country,” O’Brien said. "And so, what we're doing is, we are asking the citizens to approve some really commonsense restrictions on the larger landlords, and to add some additional tenant protections."
He said they've collected well over the 1,500 signatures required to get the measure onto the November ballot. The Southern Maine Landlord Association has said rent stabilization efforts have failed to control housing prices in other cities.
O'Brien said the referendum calls for creating a seven-member landlord-tenant board, to be appointed by the City Council. He explained the board would be charged with taking into account the needs and rights of both renters and landlords.
"The rent is what it is, but then, once you're a tenant, it only increases at a specified rate, which is roughly the rate of inflation,” O’Brien explained; "but also to make sure that, you know, if a landlord needs an additional increase, the tenant-landlord board should approve that.”
O'Brien said Portland also ranks high for the number of small businesses in the city. He pointed out that those business owners asked for help and are among the major drivers behind the effort to stabilize costs for renters.