A bill passed through the Oregon House of Representatives that is set to expand renters' rights and provide protections against no-cause evictions.
HB 2004 passed in the House with a vote of 33 to 25 on April 4, and there was a public hearing held Wednesday, May 3, in the Senate Human Services Committee.
The Senate must approve the bill before it can be passed into law.
"I believe passing House Bill 2004 is important because it will help keep more families in their homes and create more stable and diverse communities," said Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, who was one of the local sponsors of the bill.
The bill would prohibit landlords from terminating month-to-month tenancy without cause after the first six months of occupancy, except under certain circumstances with 90 days written notice and payment of an amount equal to one month's rent.
It would also allow cities and counties to implement rent stabilization programs, which is something they are barred from doing.
"As a former law enforcement officer, I am fighting for safe and stable housing for an additional reason: It is critical for the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic and sexual violence," Piluso said. "Unfortunately, affordable housing is increasingly difficult to find. When faced with a no-cause eviction or a dramatic and unplanned rent increase, survivors are often left with a heart-wrenching choice — homelessness, or returning to their abusers."
The intention behind the bill is to protect vulnerable tenants from landlords. In addition to the support from Piluso, the bill has been sponsored locally Rep. Chris Gorsek, Rep. Diego Hernandez and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson.
There has also been momentum from community members hoping to pass stronger tenant protections and stability in housing.
The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce has not taken an official stance on HB 2004 because of the complexities of the issue, but its Government Affairs Council and Leadership Academy class had in-depth discussions about the no-cause eviction element of the bill.
"When it comes to getting a drug dealer or user out of an apartment, no-cause can remove illegal activity immediately," said Lynn Snodgrass, CEO of the chamber, in a statement.
Removing dangerous activity without no-cause evictions can be a lengthy and difficult process, Snodgrass explained. It takes police action and neighbors reporting bad behavior — which can sometimes result in intimidation and backlash.
"Without the ability to remove a bad neighbor immediately for violent behavior or drug dealing puts the entire apartment complex full of innocent residents at risk," Snodgrass said.
HB 2004 does have a clause that makes an exception for properties occupied by the landlord as their main residence, so it would be a simpler process to remove a troublesome renter from a spare bedroom.
"It has been made resoundingly clear that tenants can't afford to wait for new construction to come online and the supply and demand curve to steady itself," Piluso said. "HB 2004 is crucial to keeping families in their homes and communities and will truly make a difference for the people I represent."