Portland Can't Halt No-Cause Evictions Under Current Law

The Portland City Council doesn't have the authority to halt no-cause evictions without changes to state law, according to a new analysis by the Oregon Legislative Counsel.

Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler and House Speaker Tina Kotek have each said they want to end the practice of no-cause evictions against renters.

But now, a new declaration sets the stage for lawmakers in Salem — not politicians in Portland — to act first.

That's because state law "clearly permits" a landlord to end month-to-month leases without providing a reason, so long as the landlord provides proper notice.

"A city ordinance prohibiting landlords from terminating residential month-to-month tenancies without cause would directly conflict" with state law "and eliminate a permission expressly granted to landlords," according to an Oct. 14 memo from Dexter Johnson, the legislative counsel.

Willamette Week first reported the directive.

The analysis carries no legal authority and wouldn't prohibit Portland from enacting a local law. But the city's top attorney similarly determined in April that state law blocked Portland from passing a local regulation.

The Legislative Counsel authored the memo "solely for the purpose of assisting" lawmakers in the "development and consideration of legislative matters."

Amid a rapidly rising housing market, advocates have been pressing state and local politicians to enact rent controls and end no-cause evictions.

Lawmakers meet again in 2017. Kotek has said she'll push for both.

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