Proposed Portland Rental Fee Expected to Drive Rent Prices Higher

Posted By: Deborah Imse Community, MFNW Community Updates, Portland/SW Washington,

Proposed Portland rental fee expected to drive rent prices higher

Analysis from Portland-based Johnson Economics finds that a proposed rental registration fee will effectively function as a regressive tax on renters, increasing local housing costs

Portland, OR—A new City Council proposal would increase rent prices across the city by up to $60 per year, according to new analysis from Portland-based Johnson Economics. The study found that the proposal would effectively function as a regressive property tax with most, if not all, of the cost ultimately paid by renters. 

The analysis was authored by Portland-based Johnson Economics and commissioned by Multifamily NW, a leading multifamily housing provider association based in Tigard.  “Apparently the City Council has forgotten we are in a housing crisis,” said Multifamily Executive Director Deborah Imse. “Offloading the city’s budget problems onto the backs of low-income renters is about as cold as it gets.”

The proposed fee would be charged on a per-unit basis, meaning that a family renting a $900 per month unit would pay the same amount as one renting for $5,000 per month. Johnson’s analysis determined that those initial cost increases would likely be limited for most renters, but their regressive structure would disproportionately impact lower-income renters. 

“The artificial cost increases hitting renters are stacking up,” said Jessica Greenlee, Director of Operations for Affinity Property Management. “In the current council term, we’ve seen rent control, inclusionary zoning, relocation assistance, new burdens in screening and advertising. All of those policies ultimately limit the ability to add new housing supply and raise the cost of rent. We’re doing everything we can as a housing provider to keep costs affordable, but these new policies are pushing prices in the other direction.” 

The City Council is expected to take action on the new proposal during a meeting on Wednesday, July 31st. It is unclear whether there is enough support for the measure championed by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to pass. The City has not said specifically how the money collected from the fee would be spent.

“We actually heard in the Rental Services Commission that the city doesn’t think $60 will have a significant impact,” said Imse. “For some of the families our members work with on a day to day basis, $60 can be the determining factor on whether Christmas shows up. It’s going to be difficult for the City to explain how increasing taxes on renters will make housing more affordable.”

About Multifamily NW

Multifamily NW is committed to promoting a high degree of professionalism, representing rental housing providers across Oregon and SW Washington who together manage over 250,000 rental units. Multifamily NW sponsors educational courses, delivers the most comprehensively reviewed set of forms in the state and advocates to local and state governments on behalf of the industry to better ensure fair and sound housing policies.