PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Portland's city council took on a number of issues Monday night including marijuana regulations and housing.
City leaders placed a 90-day moratorium on site approval for development on parks near Portland's peninsula. They also approved a moratorium to prevent new businesses and social clubs that sell marijuana from opening until the city can come up with regulations.
But a significant chunk of the meeting was spent on the city's housing crisis. For the past year, a special committee developed a special housing package to try and strengthen protections for city tenants facing increased rents and eviction threats.
The city council unanimously approved the five-part package but did not approve any proposed amendments to the plan.
The enacted housing insecurity legislation would do the following:
- Landlords will now be required to give a 75-day notice before increasing rent.
- City landlords and tenants have to sign a document saying they understand tenancy-at-will
- A pamphlet will be created that outlines tenant and landlord rights that has to be given to all tenants.
- A seven-person 7-tenant/landlord commission was created.
- Adopting parts of the Maine Human Rights Act into an ordinance as a way of preventing tenant income discrimination.
So, how much these new rules will impact the housing insecurity?
It depends on who you talk to.
Throughout this process, many tenants said this package doesn't do enough, and that punishments for abusive landlords aren’t harsh enough.
Mayor Strimling and some councilors agreed with that view and proposed amendments to the package.
Landlords large and small and most city councilors said they think the package is a fair compromise to both landlords and tenants.
One longtime small landlord told NEWS CENTER he thinks the tenant and landlord commission might have the greatest impact on current housing insecurity issues.
“I think landlords and developers probably will take a second look at just kicking people out because it could have ramifications down the road,” said Peter Manning, who has been renting apartments in Portland for decades.
The mayor and some city voters said there’s a chance those amendments could reappear as separate proposals at later council meetings.
“In the end, the only voices that they actually took into account in the decision-making process were the voices of the developers and the landlords,” Portland tenant Gwynne Williams said. “It's my belief that the voters outnumber the landlords and developers.”