Transparency is not an organizing principle of landlords nor their trademark, so it’s no wonder that a Portland landlord has sued the city of Portland for divulging his rent information that he carefully guards to prevent competitors from obtaining. That information will become public in order to comply with the city’s legal obligation approved by voters in November of last year.
Last week, two separate entities owned by one landlord filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland for “furnishing compilations identifying every rental unit owned” and the rent charged for each on June 30, 2020 and January 1, 2021. The two separate plaintiffs, Bayview Court Associates, LLC and Eastern Promenade, LLC are owned by the same individual and together the two own 102 units.
The Complaint dated March 30, 2021, states: “….that competitors of the two can use the information in such compilations to their benefit, ….. and can use that information to form strategies for competing against the Companies.” The Complaint continues: “The Companies do not allow disclosure of their compilations of rents and detailed occupancy information, except to those with a business need to know for the benefit of the Companies, and on assurance that confidentiality of that information will be maintained.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit calls for:”…the City to safeguard the confidentiality and secrecy of the compilations and prevent any disclosure to anyone other than the City employees using the information to administer the City’s housing ordinance; ….order the City during the pendency of this litigation not to disclose the compilations without first providing the Companies with notice and a reasonable opportunity to seek protection against disclosure from the Court.” There are four other requests of the Court from the plaintiffs.
“As this lawsuit and another regarding rent control work their way through the legal process, the city has implemented the rent control provisions according to the ordinance language. Regarding the suit on disclosing rent prices, we want to make sure we’re complying with the ordinance and FOAA. While it appears we have a disagreement over the interpretation, we will happily abide by whatever the court ruling is,” wrote city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin in an email to mhn.com.
The City’s attorney in the matter is Anne Torregrossa, Esq., in-house counsel at city hall. Attorney of the plaintiffs is Clifford H. Ruprecht, of a Portland law firm.