The BDN is exploring Maine’s housing disaster from each doable angle, from the way it impacts residence costs, to what it means for Mainers throughout the state. Learn our ongoing protection right here and fill out this type to inform us what you need to know.
Going through a rental market that exhibits no signal of slowing down, a number of southern Maine communities are taking steps to ease the stress on the lots of of hundreds of native renters. However Portland-style hire management isn’t one among them.
In November 2020, Portland turned the primary neighborhood in Maine to have hire management after voters handed a referendum capping hire will increase and requiring superior discover of will increase from landlords to tenants.
However virtually two years later, and amid a housing crunch like none ever seen earlier than in Maine, officers contacted from seven of the communities in southern Maine with the best renting charges every mentioned hire management was not one thing they’re contemplating. The shortage of need to take action makes it unlikely the coverage will unfold far past Portland’s borders — and plenty of officers say it might even be counterproductive.
Biddeford is the one neighborhood beside Portland within the metro space the place a majority of residents pay hire. But, discovering an condominium there proper now could be “subsequent to unimaginable,” mentioned Mayor Alan Casavant.
“We’ve obtained a market that’s basically at capability,” Casavant mentioned.
Nonetheless, Casavant mentioned that whereas he and different metropolis officers had carefully watched Portland within the aftermath of its hire management ordinance, they haven’t been offered on the concept.
“Lease management will not be a panacea for what’s occurring right here,” Casavant mentioned. “The recourse is to make sure that there’s extra housing constructed.”
Advocates of hire management in Portland, primarily aligned with the progressive wing of the town’s divided politics, say it has succeeded in conserving prices low for Portland residents. They’re trying to construct on it with a brand new referendum this November.
Nonetheless, opponents, such because the Southern Maine Landlord Affiliation have accused it of reducing turnover on residences, decreasing housing inventory and even failing to maintain rents low.
Mayor Invoice Doyle of neighboring Saco mentioned the town hadn’t checked out hire management, noting that the pursuits of landlords wanted to be balanced with these tenants. He mentioned Saco was within the means of taking a look at a brand new housing improvement that will usher in lots of of latest models.
It’s probably that such a venture would refill quick: Each Biddeford and Saco have been on the up-and-up, famous for his or her downtown and its outstanding meals scene.
As is the case with most of the southern Maine communities drawing new residents from out and in of Maine, it’s a double-edged sword. Doyle acknowledged that elevated curiosity was probably driving up housing costs in Saco, to the detriment of each renters and homebuyers.
“When individuals transfer right here, they’re shopping for homes at $40-50-60,000 over asking,” Doyle mentioned. “That inflates the prices of all the homes.”
Renters make up a majority of households in only a few of Maine’s communities. Outdoors of Portland’s metro space, Waterville, Orono, Caswell, Bangor, Hammond, Lewiston, Livermore Falls and Hallowell are the one majority-renter municipalities, in line with 2020 U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
Every of these have seen their residence values go up round 50 % for the reason that starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, considerably elevating rents, in line with newly launched knowledge from Zillow. Knowledge was not accessible for Caswell and Hammond.
The more and more troublesome situations for tenants has pushed municipal officers to take housing extra significantly than ever. Brunswick is on the verge of forming a housing process pressure to look at quite a few issues, together with the rental market, as a part of their “cost,” mentioned city council chair Jim Mason.
Mason mentioned he was not sure if hire management was the precise transfer for Brunswick. Nonetheless, he didn’t suppose there was any hurt in not less than considering what it might accomplish.
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be not less than thought of,” Mason mentioned. “All concepts must be mentioned.”
The present market has made many officers pessimistic, however Emily Ruger, director of neighborhood and financial improvement for the town of Tub, mentioned she had been pleasantly stunned on the stage of collaboration the housing disaster had fostered — together with between the private and non-private sectors.
“I feel it’s probably the most collaborative I’ve ever seen with any difficulty,” she mentioned. “Persons are actually taking proactive steps. It’ll be fascinating to see the outcomes even a 12 months from now.”
Tub not too long ago handed an ordinance that permits house owners so as to add an adjunct dwelling unit to their properties. Like different communities, they’re additionally working to replace their zoning to make new housing developments simpler to construct.
Lease management will not be one thing that’s being talked about in Tub, Ruger mentioned. Neither is it farther south in Kittery.
“Lease management will not be in our device field, however we’ve been engaged on mandating and incentivizing reasonably priced housing,” Kittery city supervisor Kendra Amaral mentioned.
Sanford is one other neighborhood with lots of renters: round 3,200 renting households, in line with 2020 Census Bureau knowledge, making up round 36 % of whole households within the metropolis.
The rental market there additionally has turn out to be extraordinarily tight, mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio mentioned. It’s a phenomenon that started pre-pandemic when individuals started in search of out Sanford amid rising costs within the close by communities of Portland, Biddeofrd, Westbrook and Saco, she mentioned.
Whereas she doesn’t count on the town to have a look at hire management, it’s attempting to handle the issue by getting vacant and deserted properties livable and again in the marketplace.
The issue is being magnified by out-of-state funding teams shopping for up residences and instantly rising hire, she mentioned. It’s a acquainted sight within the Portland space, most famously at Redbank Village in South Portland, the place rents have skyrocketed because it was purchased by a Los Angeles-based firm final November.
South Portland, which had already had necessities in place on notices for elevating hire, responded by passing an emergency ordinance final month that caps hire will increase till the tip of the 12 months. South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac didn’t reply to a request for remark about doable future efforts.
Some new housing initiatives are on the best way in Sanford, however the price of constructing new models is skyrocketing as effectively, placing a few of these initiatives on a slower observe, Mastraccio mentioned.
“Just about no single household house is promoting at asking worth, and money is king,” she mentioned. “Sanford at all times had reasonably priced homes for the first-time residence purchaser. Not.”