Maine Socialists Win Rent Control in Portland, Lose Minimum Wage Hike and Airbnb Regs

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2026

The Maine Democratic Socialists of America viewed Portland as a proving ground for progressive city reforms, but even the overwhelmingly Democrat city rejected most of the socialist proposals.

City voters rejected an $18 per hour minimum wage increase that also eliminated the tip credit for restaurant workers. And the city blocked new limits on short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO.

The one socialist victory came by way of rent control. Billed as “tenant protection,” the initiative will impose strict rent controls pegged to the Consumer Price Index.

Annual rental increases will now be limited to 70 percent of CPI rather than the already severe limit of 100 percent. The initiative will also limit fees and security deposits, increase lease termination notice periods, and place a $25,000 fee on condo conversions.

Critics of rent control argue that rents need to rise in accordance with population and economic growth, and that landlords have little reason to invest in the upkeep rental units if they cannot adequately monetize them.

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