Landlord lawsuit against City of Portland moves back to state court

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It's one step forward, one step back for a lawsuit against the city of Portland brought by some landlords. 

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It’s one step forward, one step back for a lawsuit against the city of Portland brought by some landlords.

A federal judge on Wednesday said he didn't think the case belonged in his courtroom, so the parties agreed to take it back to a state judge, where it was originally brought.

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The lawsuit seeks to end a temporary ordinance the Portland city council recently passed. The ordinance basically said, if you are a landlord and order a no cause eviction of your tenant, or you raise the rent 10 percent or more causing them to move, you will be responsible for paying up to 45-hundred dollars in moving expenses.

Background: Portland passes ordinance requiring some landlords to pay moving fees

Renters struggling in a city that proclaimed a ‘housing state of emergency’ love the rule, but landlords don't. The lawsuit brought by the landlords says it's a form of rent control, and parts of it are not legal or constitutional at the state and federal level.

Last week, attorneys for the city asked the case be heard in federal court. The other side agreed and that's where it was to start on Wednesday.

But before oral arguments really got off the ground, District Judge Michael H. Simon said he didn't believe the federal laws brought by the plaintiffs related to contracts and due process would prevail at the federal level, and that ruling on a temporary restraining order didn’t make sense. So the federal claims were dropped and both sides agreed to take the case back to the state level.

Both sides went in to the federal courthouse today with some expectation of the case going forward. Instead they were out within an hour.

“We will continue to defend the constitutionality and legality of the ordinance and we expect at the end of the day that the decision of the council will be upheld,” said HarryAuerbach, chief deputy city attorney for Portland.

As for the landlords' legal team, it’s a day to regroup, and continue on as well.

“We' going to have a meeting today to decide our next course of action in state court. The problem is real because we believe we're right, we believe the ordinance will ultimately be overturned,” said John DiLorenzo, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

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