Rent cap increase and fading protections mean things are getting worse as evictions skyrocket
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Rent cap increase and fading protections mean things are getting worse for Oregon renters as evictions skyrocket
State officials announced today that the 2023 rent cap in Oregon will be a shocking 14.6%. The news comes as statewide evictions are skyrocketing and the final pandemic era tenant protections will end on September 30.
Under the 2023 cap, rent in the coming year for a $2,000-per-month unit may be increased by $292 monthly, or $3,504 extra for the year. This is the highest allowed cap since passage of SB 608, which established the rent cap, in 2019.
In a time where too many Oregon families lack a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home, this announcement marks a very real threat of increased housing instability, economic insecurity, and potential houselessness among those with incomes below living wages. This announcement also comes at a time where wages are stagnant as the cost-of-living increases, and as the threat of an economic recession is on the horizon.
“For families who are already severely rent burdened, a 14.6% rent increase is effectively an eviction notice,” says Loren Naldoza of Neighborhood Partnerships. “Today’s announcement puts countless families, individuals, seniors, and people with disabilities on notice that their landlords have the express permission to increase their rent by unprecedented amounts.”
As soon as next month, renters could receive notice of a massive rent increase.
“Already our hotline is ringing off the hook with people who are struggling to afford the rent in our uneven economic recovery, and it’s about to get so much worse,” says Kim McCarty, Executive Director of Community Alliance of Tenants whose organization’s Renters’ Rights Hotline has experienced an uptick in calls since the pandemic. “People with housing who are just barely making it are already terrified of being forced to live in cars or in tents and their fears are justified. The leading cause of the homelessness that we see throughout the state is the rising cost of housing, and the lack of affordable housing leading to evictions. Having a job is no longer an indicator of your ability to remain housed.”
McCarty adds that this increase is bound to have compounded consequences for Black, Indigenous, Latnix, Asian, Pacific islander, immigrant, refugee and rural Oregonians as data has proven across the past two years of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project reports that August 2022 court records show that 2,000 faced court eviction, a 45% increase over July 2022 and a shocking increase of 119% over August 2021. The spike in evictions comes as the final pandemic-era protections end at midnight on September 30, 2022.
“We’re concerned about the wave of evictions we’re seeing in court,” says Becky Straus, Managing Attorney of Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project. “The eviction court dockets are swamped and the only thing that has kept things from being worse through the pandemic were reasonable and humane timelines so that people had a chance to take the steps necessary to avoid losing their homes. With this new aggressive eviction timeline starting next month, and 14.6% rent increases coming in January, we expect evictions to rise even further for the foreseeable future.”
“More families falling into new homelessness due to evictions or rent increases will be stretching our homelessness response system beyond its already burdened capacity. What we see with homelessness now is nothing like what it could become,” says Katrina Holland, Executive Director of JOIN, a homeless services agency helping families avoid homelessness and get stable housing after life on the streets. “These conditions affect not only our ability to say yes to folks looking for rent assistance, but also how many people we can say yes to. Rent assistance only goes so far for so many as rents continue to increase.”
State lawmakers have taken important steps during the past few years to keep people housed during these difficult years and address - temporarily - the systemic issues that lead to home loss and displacement. Now, with those protections ending and today’s announcement of double digit rent increases, the Stable Homes for Oregon Families Coalition urges lawmakers to continue the needed work to protect Oregon renters.
What else to know
Starting October 1, 2022:
The deadlines for moving out or being taken to court will be accelerated. Before October 1, 2022, renters have 10 days after receiving an eviction notice to remedy the situation before the landlord can take them to court. That notice period will be shortened to 72 hours starting October 1. Advocates are concerned that this accelerated timeline does not leave enough time to access rent assistance, seek advice or information, especially in languages other than English, or find a place to stay.
Less time to pay back rent. Starting October 1, landlords can refuse to accept payment 72 hours after giving an eviction notice. Currently, tenants have a reasonable amount of time to either dispute the allegation or make full payment at any time during the process.
The safe harbor from eviction to provide stability while an application for rent assistance was being processed and paid will expire on September 30, 2022. After that date, tenants can be evicted even if they have a pending application for rent assistance.
Additionally, the Oregon Law Center advises:
If you applied for rent assistance before July 1, 2022 and haven’t received it, you should contact the agency they applied through to see if they need anything else from you to speed up the application.
If your landlord takes you to eviction court, contact the Oregon Law Center Eviction Defense Project at 888-585-9638. Translation services are available.