The Portland Phoenix

Portland rent-control initiatives to take effect this week

The Avesta Oak Street Lofts is one of a handful of projects over the past decade that has made use of Portland's Housing Trust Fund, which is supposed to help fund affordable and workforce housing. (Portland Phoenix/Colin Ellis)

A slate of rent control protections passed by voters in the recent election’s lone successful citizen initiative in Portland will take effect on Dec. 8. 

The referendum, Question C on the November ballot, creates new protections for tenants, like a 90-day notice for lease termination and restricting security deposits to one month’s rent. It also limits rent increases to 5 percent for voluntary turnovers, prohibits application fees and sets a $25,000 fee to convert a rental unit into a condominium. 

Maine, and Portland especially, have become increasingly unaffordable to less affluent workers. According to a recent study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a person working at a wage of $12.75 per hour would have to work 56 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment listed at market rate. 

According to the study, just 45 percent of renters in Portland are at the 45 percent mark for area median income, and there are more than 68,000 households below that threshmark. 

It is the first item to take effect, Interim City Manager Danielle West told the Council this week. The six successful Charter Commission recommendations, which include a clean elections program and a civilian police review board, will take effect on July 1, 2023. 

Of those, the clean elections program will likely have the biggest impact on the next budget, according to West, who estimated $290,000 would be required to administer the item and provide public campaign funds for qualifying candidates. The police review board will require funding for two city staff positions required by the initiative, but those costs have to be determined by the Council.


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