Tenants like mine are collateral damage. They are the victims of the overly restrictive and burdensome rent control mandate put forth by the Maine Democratic Socialists. The Maine DSA could care less. They are keen on punishing the greedy and oppressive landlords that provide housing in Portland.
Many tenants are experiencing yearly rental increases for the first time. It will be this year too and the next after that. This is because landlords are capped at a 5 percent increase when a tenant voluntarily vacates a unit. It doesn’t matter how long the tenant was there, the renovations needed or how below-market the rent is. If a Portland renter is lucky enough to have a below-market rent now, they will most assuredly have their rents raised annually, up to 10 percent, year after year.
You see, when rent control passed it created a base rent, which effectively punished the landlords who offered long-term, below-market rents. Now small landlords who generally didn’t raise rents on existing tenants are making it their standard policy.
Question A would make one change to the current rent control policy. It would allow a new base rent to be established once a tenant leaves voluntarily. All other existing tenant protections remain.
I have great tenants, a young family who want to continue to live in my building long-term. I don’t need to raise the rent on them. Since rent control passed and they are so severely below fair market value, I am planning to raise their rent yearly. If I knew that I could bring the unit to fair market rent once they moved on, I would not be raising the rent.
There are thousands of other Portland tenants in this identical situation. They are the collateral damage of the DSA’s extreme policy. They are witnessing rent control raise their rents. Please vote Yes on A so that housing providers will have the flexibility to offer low rents to existing tenants like mine, while still being able to invest in the future.
David Boyer is the principal owner of DB Consulting, hired as a public relations consultant by a group assembled by the Rental Housing Alliance (formerly known as the Southern Maine Landlord Association) and other proponents of referendum Question A. He is a State Representative and lives in Poland.