PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon renters are bracing for the possibility of big rent hikes in 2023 because of the effect of inflation on a statewide rent increase cap.
State economists did the math and came up with a 14.6% cap on rent increases for next year. It's a higher number than many expected, and people are reacting to the news in a big way.
“I’m shocked. Everybody should be shocked,” said Kim McCarty, executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants.
She said the nonprofit has 6,000 household members statewide, and the past few years have been very tough on those renters, especially with pandemic-related protections ending.
“And then you pile on top of that the possibility of $200 rent increase, a 14.6% possible increase in rent on top of the inflation that’s happening to your food, health care, child care, etc., people are at a breaking point.”
Many comments on KGW's social media pages agree. One person wrote, "With the increase people are going to have to get 2nd and 3rd jobs just to have a roof over their heads."
But some also acknowledged the struggle of landlords as well.
"Landlords are struggling with inflation, also. Everything about home ownership is up," another person wrote.
“I’m sure it sounds like, to a lot of people, that’s a big hike,” said Christian Bryant, president of the Portland Area Rental Owners Association. He also teaches people the rental business.
Bryant said he understands the concern but does not believe most landlords able to raise rents 14.6% next year will do so.
But he added, “The way it’s set up right now is if you’re a landlord, you’re a business. And if your costs go up, (like) at a restaurant or the Home Depot, they charge the end user more.”
Gov. Kate Brown signed Oregon’s rent control bill into law in 2019, the first of its kind in the nation. It caps rent increases annually at 7% plus the average consumer price index measure of inflation.
In light of this 14.6% cap, Brown’s office put out a statement saying in part, "The Governor is deeply concerned about the maximum rental increases that will be allowed under Oregon law in 2023, and she urges the legislature to prioritize action to mitigate future increases … with today’s inflation rates it makes sense to reexamine state law.”
Kim McCarty with the Community Alliance of Tenants said things do need to change.
“Tenants represent over 40% of households in Oregon. So this is everybody’s issue. And we could easily, in Oregon, have your average household priced out of the market.”
This statewide cap applies to housing that's at least 15 years old. Newer rentals aren't part of it.
For those who rent in Portland, there is a 10% cap in place. Anything more and landlords will face the prospect of paying for people to move if they want out.