Renter Protections Process
City Council Process to Review and Potentially Update Renter Protections in the City of Eugene
In November 2021 Council reviewed the Housing Policy Board’s recommendations on Renter Protections. Council directed staff to assess the feasibility and resources needed to implement the renter protections consistent with the Housing Policy Board’s recommendations, and several additional considerations from Council members.
Staff will return with this information to Council in early 2022.
Renter protections are broadly defined. They can include programs like the City’s Rental Housing Code program, which regulates rental properties in the city by creating minimum habitability standards. Renter protections can also include anti-discrimination protections like the ones found in Eugene’s Human Rights Code. They can even include rent stabilization and limitations on no-cause evictions like those found in SB 608 (2019).
The recommendations for renter protections made by the Housing Policy Board are focused on:
1) Protecting renters and vulnerable populations and
2) Preventing displacement.
Housing Policy Board Recommendation to City Council on Renter Protections
HPB met weekly for four weeks (September 13th, 20th, 27th, and October 4th) to discuss and finalize its recommendations.
Public Comment to the Housing Policy Board Came From:
• Rental Owner’s Association
• Springfield-Eugene Tenant Association
• Ex-officio members of the HPB who are local affordable housing providers
The HPB renter protection recommendations include recommendations for enhanced renter protections focused on two stages of renting, the application stage and the move-in/move-out stage, along with a recommended path for funding and oversight. All the components of HPB’s recommendations are intended to work together to lower barriers to housing access, prevent discrimination, and strengthen protections to stabilize renters within the housing continuum.
- 2017 Council Work Session
- 2018 HPB Task Team
- 2019 Council Work Session
- Renter Protections Committee 2019-2021
In a February 21, 2017, Work Session Council received a presentation from staff about the status of rental housing in Eugene.
- Council directed staff to conduct additional research and return with more information at a future work session.
- Next steps that emerged included working with the Housing Policy Board (HPB) to conduct outreach to renters to better understand rental housing affordability, availability, access, quality, and stability.
In 2018, the Housing Policy Board formed a task team to learn more about current market conditions affecting renters, and to identify tools and strategies to protect renters and prevent displacement in areas with changing housing market conditions.
- The task team created and distributed the Renters’ Experiences Survey and held four listening sessions.
- A total of 851 surveys were completed and 112 community members participated in the listening sessions.
In February of 2019 new state legislation (SB 608/ORS 90.427) became effective and did two important things for renters:
1) prohibited most no-cause evictions after the first year of occupancy and
2) limited how much landlords can increase rent each year.
March 13, 2019, Work Session Council held a work session to receive the results of the Renters’ Experience Survey and listening sessions along with the status of the Eugene rental market, issues related to rental housing, and state legislation related to renter protections.
- Council directed staff to come back with more data as well as recommendations on ways to increase rental housing stability, access, and affordability.
- The HPB identified the following priorities based on the information gathered through the survey and listening sessions as well as Councilors’ questions and comments:
- Consider strategies for increasing tenant and landlord awareness of rights, responsibilities, and resources.
- Consider challenges and strategies related to application fees and processes (pet rent, security deposits/refunds, screening, housing navigators).
- Consider creation of supports (for deposits, first and last months’ rent) and explore potential programs.
- Explore options to addressing housing quality and condition concerns raised through renter survey.
- Identify priorities for rental housing data and consider strategies for compiling and analyzing data.
- The Housing Policy Board created the ad-hoc Renter Protections Committee to “identify tools and strategies to protect renters and prevent displacement in areas with changing housing market conditions in Eugene” and address the five priorities listed above.
- HPB appointed ten community members, a mix of tenants, tenant advocates, service providers, housing providers, advocates for the unhoused, and landlords.
- The Renter Protections Committee met monthly between September 2019 – July 2021 (stopping work between April and December of 2020 due to the pandemic).
- Beginning in 2021 the meetings focused on reviewing the City of Portland’s Fair Access in Renting (FAIR) Ordinance, which became effective March 1, 2020 to establish whether this may be a useful model for Eugene.
- Two subcommittees were formed, one consisting of tenants/tenant advocates and the other of landlords.
- The tenant subcommittee reviewed the FAIR Ordinance and created a report with 13 recommendations.
- The landlord subcommittee did not agree with the tenant subcommittee’s recommendations, but proposed creation of a housing navigator position and continued funding for a tenant hotline.