The Rental Housing Alliance of Southern Maine, a local non-profit organization of rental housing property owners from across the region, is responding to recent reports that a new rent control referenda question will be on the November 2022 ballot in Portland.
Despite immediate and widespread issues caused by the implementation of Portland’s existing, nationally unprecedented, rent control policy, the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is doubling down with a new proposal they claim will make Portland more “livable”. Specifically, they are seeking to limit annual rent increases to 70% of the Consumer Price Index, restrict deposits to one month of rent, prohibit application fees, require a 90-day notice for lease terminations or rent increases, limit rent increases to tenant-initiated turnovers, set a $25,000 fee for condominium conversions, increase the authority of the city’s rent board and permit tenant unions to represent tenants before the board.
As the leading authority on rental housing in the region, the RHA represents a group of 650+ professional rental housing providers who have dedicated themselves to maintaining and increasing the supply of economically viable, quality housing for all income levels. The Greater Portland area already faces a housing shortage and the Rent Control and Green New Deal referendum passed in Portland in 2020, as predicted by the RHA and other stakeholders, have served only to further exacerbate the issue by incentivizing rent increases, disincentivizing local housing providers, and widening the gap between rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled units.
"This is just going to break the system even more than it's already broken," Brit Vitalius, President of the RHA, said in a recent press statement. “The current rent control policy necessitates the raising of rents every year because if you get too far behind in the market it’s impossible to catch up. Our members are local small business owners trying to survive amid record inflation. Many are fed up and just selling their buildings to out of state developers who, as with Redbank in South Portland, often have a severely different approach to tenant and community relations.”
A significant piece of the RHA’s mission is to advocate for high-quality housing and responsible housing solutions. An active RHA Advocacy Committee meets regularly and will continue to fight to educate voters about the true implications of shortsighted proposals, such as this one, developed without the input of those actually providing housing, that make it increasingly impossible to create much-needed housing in Portland. “We're just tired of being held hostage by the referendum process in the city,” Vitalius said. “This is no way to govern a city.”
The full text of the measure can be viewed here on the City of Portland’s website. RHA members will receive regular updates related to advocacy efforts as the election approaches. Any rental housing providers interested in learning more or joining our efforts should contact email@example.com.
Links to all Citizen Initiatives:
An Act to Eliminate the Sub-Minimum Wage, Increase Minimum Wages and Strengthen Protections for Workers
An Act to Protect Tenants in Portland
An Act to Reduce the Number of Short Term Rentals in Portland
An Act to Restrict Cruise Ships in Order to Reduce Congestion and Pollution
An Act to Regulate Short Term Rentals in Portland and Prohibit Corporate and Absentee Operation of Short Term Rental Properties