On August 7, Portland City Council voted 3-1 to adopt a $60 per unit annual fee for landlords. The reasoning presented was to help fund the city’s Renter Services Office, which collects data and maintains a registry of rental units in an effort to enforce fair housing laws and mediate landlord/tenant disputes. This fee is expected to generate almost $4 million/year for the rental office.
Mayor Ted Wheeler says this is an important initiative to inform city housing policy. Commissioner Amanda Fritz was the sole vote against the fee, stating that she supports the rental registry, but could not vote in favor of the fee due to the numerous regulations already put on landlords. Additionally, there is no exemption for low-rent mobile home parks.
Property owners opposed the fee as well. Their concern is that the city continues to drive up the cost of existing housing, while showing little to no results in creating affordable housing for Portland residents.
Currently, over 17,000 units are registered with the office, with thousands more applications pending. At least 20,000 will be exempt from the fee, primarily government owned or regulated affordable units.
Other west coast cities such as Seattle have adopted a similar fee, but put it towards paying for building inspections and other functions rather than data collection.
Portland’s fee will hit bigger landlords harder. In Seattle, a 200 unit property costs $575 annually to register. In Portland, the same building will cost $12,000. A typical 75 unit complex will cost $4500 annually.
What are your thoughts on this new fee? Share your opinions in the comments below!
My opinion is that will help no one. Rents will rise, tenants will suffer. I do not believe it will assist in finding an apartment. The available units will be rented but still show as available on the registry and tenants will be chasing one apartment after another only to find it unavailable when they arrive. How will that help? Frustration and anger will be the order of the day. Landlords do not need more regulations to deal with and the costs will increase with each new regulation. Helping tenants? I doubt it. No city registry can remain that currently accurate and landlords have more to do than report into the city every time a unit rents. It will be another good idea that doesn’t work. Let’s be honest, “it’s really all about money” and nothing else.