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South Portland passes rent control ordinance

The ordinance caps annual rent increases at 10 percent for certain properties.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The South Portland City Council voted 4-3 in favor of capping annual rent increases at 10 percent for the next seven years.

Leading up to Tuesday night's vote, dozens of renters spoke before the city council earlier this month. Many said they're struggling to make ends meet and their landlords are raising their rent by hundreds of dollars. 

"When I first moved in, my rent was $590 a month and now I pay $1,222," Dottie Blancard, a South Portland resident, said.

The rent control ordinance will only apply to landlords who own 15 or more units with some exceptions, such as new development. It also prohibits landlords from reducing services as a means to subvert the rent cap.

But, there are arguments against rent stabilization. Before the vote, some councilors said it would actually increase rent in the long run and discourage landlords from investing in the city.

"Even the mere words 'rent control' or 'rent stabilization' ensconced in city ordinance will have a chilling effect on city development and that will be a problem for years to come," South Portland City Councilor Misha Pride said.  

The ordinance will take effect on May 27 and expire on May 27, 2030. 

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