The horror stories came fast and furious in the days before February 2, the date Portland City Council passed a new ordinance mandating that landlords offer relocation assistance to certain tenants.
In Northeast Portland, the Normandy Apartments had given tenants notice of rent increases of around 100 percent beginning in June. Elsewhere, whole buildings were being issued no-cause evictions.
So the city council built provisions into its new law that made sure it applied to rent hikes and no cause evictions that had already been announced by landlords, but hadn't gone into effect.
And now that an early attempt to kill the law has failed, that means today's an important deadline for some people. Depending on your situation, this might be the last day you can demand a relocation payment.
It works like this:
If you'd been given a notice of a forthcoming rent increase of 10 percent or more before council passed the new law on February 2, and you're going to move out because of the hike, you have to provide written notice the rent increase is pricing you out by today. If you do, the law says landlords have to pay up within two weeks (payments range between $2,900 and $4,500, depending on how big your dwelling unit is). Wait until tomorrow? They're not on the hook to pay you a thing.
February 16 isn't an arbitrary date. Under the rental relocation ordinance [PDF], when landlords give warning they're raising rents by 10 percent or more in a 12-month period, tenants have two weeks to submit notice that they'll move, and want a relocation payment. So council made today—two weeks after the law's passage—the deadline for tenants to submit notice.
Here's the pertinent language in the law:
At least one set of high-profile tenants apparently have yet to do so. No residents of the Normandy Apartments had given notice they'll be moving out as of 1 pm, according to Tom Minneart, who owns First Class Property Management, which controls the building.
Minneart and others with his company say they visited 8 of the building's 18 units last night to talk to people about their plans.
"Everybody last night said 'We would like to stay or we don't know what we’re going to do yet,'" Minneart says. "As of today, we’ve not heard from anyone. If they don't let us know, I don't think the owner's going to want to be paying."
Minneart says the rent increases at the Normandy are being carried out at the owners' request, and that the money will be used to improve the property, and bring it in line with market rates. The amount of rent increase varies, but in some cases people paying $600 per month will face rents of $1,250 beginning in April. In addition, Minneart's company is requiring people to re-apply in order to stay. His company only began managing the property last last year.
The situation for Normandy Residents is a bit atypical. Earlier this month, the county announced it would provide $48,000 in short-term rental assistance for residents who want to stay on in the building after rents rise in April. The money's targeted toward keeping children who live in the building enrolled at nearby Rigler Elementary through the end of the school year. But the cash can also be used in a variety of ways, according to county officials—not just to pay rents.
"If they want to start saving money for when they move, it’s there," says the county's Denis Theriault (yep, that Denis Theriault).
We've reached out to Latino Network, the nonprofit that's connecting Normandy tenants with the county money, but haven't heard back.