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Nino Paoli/The Observer

Senate bill caps annual rent increase at 10%, La Grande divided on issue

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By Nino Paoli

Published on 7/7/23

LA GRANDE — Renters across Oregon are struggling with rising rents, and help for them has just been signed into law, but to what effect?

The maximum annual rent increase rate for landlords is back down to 10%, after Gov. Tina Kotek signed Senate Bill 611 on Thursday, July 6, which is effective immediately and brings with it local debate about what’s best for tenants, landlords and the market.

According to a Stable Homes for Oregon Families press release, the new 2023 rent limit applies to all rentals that are at least 15 years old, unless there is a specific exemption in some cases of subsidized housing.

As inflation averaged 7.6% from September 2021 to August 2022, the La Grande community struggles to find affordable housing. Although Republican senators say the bill will hurt the housing market in the long run and tighter restrictions on landlords is not the answer to the housing crisis, local landlords have a mixed reception of the new law.

“We’re just back to what we were before,” said Linda Hansen, who owns a local property management business, alluding to the past rent increase cap, which was 9.9% in 2022, before the state of Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis announced in September 2022 the new rate of 14.6% for 2023.

Oregon law in 2019 set the maximum rent increase to be 7%, plus the West Coast Consumer Price Index (inflation), which has decreased from 7.6% to 4.5%, after it peaked around 9% in May 2022. May 2020 to May 2022 saw the fastest growing inflation rate in 40 years, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

SB 611 caps rent increase at 10%, though the computation of the rate stays the same, in hopes the rate will decrease to the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2% in time.

“Housing Matters Union County is in support of the capping rent prices and any measure that aims to make housing more affordable for working renters and retired individuals,” HMUC coordinator Madelaine Koller said in a statement. “Many people in Union County pay at least 40% of their income on rent, which can be quite burdensome.”

The bill has its critics as well.

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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