SALEM — The contentious Senate Bill 608, which would stop landlords from evicting tenants without cause after 12 months of occupancy and limit rent increases, passed the House Tuesday and will now go to the governor for her action.

The vote after a debate on the House Floor was 35 to 25. It had earlier passed in the Senate by six votes.

According to the bill summary, landlords would be able to evict a renter with 90 days written notice and payment of one month’s rent. Landlords with four or fewer rental units would be exempt from the month’s rent payment.

Rent increases for residential units are limited to one per year, with increases limited to seven percent maximum above the annual change in the consumer price index, the summary reads. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services will publish the allowed percentage increase.

The debate over the bill centered on whether renters would actually be helped and would it do anything to address the housing shortage which lawmakers said is a crisis across the state.

Proponents said that rent control will protect renters from price gouging by some landlords while opponents said the rent control would push landlords out of the rental market.

Rep. Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, took a different approach saying his family had owned a piece of land for 60 years that is not high quality land that no one has offered to buy. The issue is no one can afford to build on it and there have been no builders since the recession.

Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, said there is incidence of mobility or moving among students, and the no-cause evictions are a major cause of homelessness.

Other comments were that the rent controls will decrease incentive to have rentals.

Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, said the bill does not protect renters and there is no protection for landlords.

Also in the House, House Bill 2451 was passed out of the Agriculture and Land Use Committee with a do pass recommendation and will see action on the House floor.

The bill, requested by onion producers, repeals a law requiring inspections of onions by Oregon Department of Agriculture which onion growers and packers says is redundant with other inspection programs and is not needed.

Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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