Current law limits rent increases when you move into a new unit to 5% more than the previous tenant paid. Landlords have put Question A on the June ballot to allow them to gouge the rent as much as they want on every turnover. We say: no way!
Vote No on A. Vote No on Rent Gouging.
What Can I Do?
Vote NO on “An Act to Amend Rent Control and Tenant Protections” on June 13, 2023. You can either request your absentee ballot here, vote early, or vote at your polling place on election day.
Tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, hook-ups, parents, etc. about what the Southern Maine Landlord Association (AKA the Rental Housing Alliance of Southern Maine) is really trying to accomplish with their ballot measure.
What Else Should I Know about Question A?
Just give me the facts. What would Question A do?
Currently, if you voluntarily leave your unit (that is, you decide to leave because you want to live somewhere else, not because you were evicted and/or your lease was not renewed) your landlord can raise the rent for the next tenant by 5%. If Question A’s landlord loophole passes, they could raise the rent by as much as they want. One landlord who tried to do this on a turnover under the current law raised the rent on a unit from $2,300 to $3,800—more than 60%!
Where did the current 5% cap come from?
The existing cap of 5% was put in place by the Rent Control Ordinance that was overwhelmingly passed by Portland voters in November of 2020 and 2022.
Are landlords really unable to invest in properties if they aren’t allowed to raise rents as much as they want?
Of course not. In fact, the current law allows landlords to get automatic increases annually at 70% of the rate of inflation. That allows them to fully recoup the costs they have for general maintenance of the building. Plus, if they invest in larger capital improvement, they can go to the rent board to ask for much larger increases that will be spread out over multiple years.
Who is the Rental Housing Alliance of Maine?
Formerly known as the Southern Maine Landlords Association, the Rental Housing Alliance of Southern Maine rebranded themselves prior to launching Question A.
Despite their change in name, the RHA’s interests remain with landlords—not renters. Their membership tiers clearly show the association is only for landlords. That’s why they consistently lobby the city council on behalf of landlords and why they have tried to defeat rent control every time it has been on the ballot in Portland.
This name change is nothing more than an attempt to trick people. Don’t fall for it.
What has happened in other cities that allow landlords to gouge new tenants?
Great question! Sadly, just what you would expect. In NYC for instance, they put this loophole in place in the 1990’s and since then it has resulted in tens of thousands of units no longer being affordable. In fact, the last study showed 150,000 were lost to working class families. It got so bad that in 2019, the New York Legislature actually banned the loophole statewide! You can read more here: Rent Regulations in New York: How They’ll Affect Tenants and Landlords.
And here’s an article from Canada about a similar provision and how it has caused rents to skyrocket: “Vacancy decontrol has failed tenants and should be abolished.”
Landlords say rent control “doesn’t work,” is this true?
The literature and research is clear that rent stabilization works for its intended purpose: to keep people housed, units affordable, communities intact, and produce better economic outcomes for people living in stabilized apartments.
Will this hurt the quality of our existing housing stock?
The law today still allows landlords to go to the Rent Board to ensure they are receiving a fair return on investment, balancing concerns that rent stabilization won’t allow landlords to keep up with maintenance and improvements, or will force them to sell the property.
Paid for by Maine DSA for a Livable Portland.