Understanding Oregon Rental Laws

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Each state has its own laws governing landlord-tenant disputes and relations. In addition, there are federal laws and municipal laws that apply in specific cities or counties. Here we will cover those laws in detail and outline the rights of both tenants and landlords as well as their obligations.

> Anti-Discrimination Laws
How Landlords can Avoid Discrimination Lawsuits
> Exceptions to Oregon’s Housing Discrimination Laws
> Oregon Laws Concerning Landlord-Tenant Relations
> Oregon Law and Security Deposits
> Oregon Laws Relating to Rent
> Implied Warranty of Habitability in Oregon
> Laws Regarding the Termination of a Lease
> Eviction and Termination Due to Violations of the Lease
Notice of Entry on Tenant’s Rental Premises
Landlord Disclosures
Business Licenses
Oregon State Associations and Resources

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

Title VI and VIII of the Civil Rights Act set forth the anti-discrimination laws as they pertain to housing. Title VIII is also known as the Fair Housing Act. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to housing, as well.

Federal law prohibits a landlord from discriminating on the basis of:

  •   Race,
  •   Religion or creed,
  •   Sex or gender,
  •   National origin,
  •   Familial status, and
  •   Disability.

Prohibited actions include:

  •   Discriminatory language in rental applications,
  •   Raising rent or increasing the security deposit based on the presence of children,
  •   Denying reasonable accommodations to an individual with a disability,
  •   Denying the application of an individual with a service animal based on a no-pets policy,
  •   Denying residential privileges based on a protected characteristic,
  • Segregating tenants based on race.

Since service animals are not considered pets under the law, a landlord may not exclude a disabled tenant who has, for instance, a seeing-eye dog. A landlord may request proof that the tenant requires the service animal and that the animal is indeed registered as a service animal. This information can generally be provided by a healthcare provider.

On the other hand, the federal government does not recognize “emotional support animals” as service animals. Service animals provide a particular service to their owners. Emotional support animals simply provide companionship. For that reason, they are considered pets.

Oregon Anti-Discrimination Laws

In addition to the federal standards, Oregon also prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  •   Marital status,
  •   Sexual orientation, and
  •   Source of income.

Many landlords are under the assumption that it is permissible to deny housing to a tenant who is paying with Section 8 vouchers. This is not the case. Landlords are prohibited from advertising properties as refusing to take Section 8. On the other hand, properties may have to pass an inspection in order to accept Section 8. These are basic necessities that conform to most building codes, but nonetheless, the properties must pass. If a landlord says that the property would not pass a Section 8 inspection, it gives them an easy out. Oftentimes, landlords are asked to make repairs at their own expense in order pass Section 8 inspections. They can decline to make those repairs. It puts those who rely on Section 8 in an awkward position and enforcement of these laws needs to be managed more transparently.

How Landlords can Avoid Discrimination Lawsuits

Landlords are advised to make their screening process as transparent as possible. In order to do this, it is always best to select the first qualified applicant. There are a number of legal reasons why a landlord could find a tenant unqualified. Those include:

  •   Insufficient income,
  •   Poor credit,
  •   Bad references.

On the other hand, Oregon has made it illegal to discriminate against a tenant for a prior arrest or certain kinds of criminal convictions. In addition, a landlord may not discriminate against a tenant for an eviction that happened more than five years ago.

By simply taking the first qualified applicant, a landlord can avoid the appearance of discriminatory selection.

Exceptions to Oregon’s Housing Discrimination Laws

There are almost no exceptions to Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws as concerns housing.

A landlord who is renting a room to a tenant in a single family dwelling where they both share some common space may exclude applicants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or familial status (O.R.S. § 659A.421).

In addition, a 55 and over community may refuse to rent a property to families with children under the age of 18. Clubs can limit access to residences to club members.

Oregon Laws Concerning Landlord-Tenant Relations

Oregon laws concerning landlord-tenant relations can be found in:

Oregon Law and Security Deposits

Statutes governing security deposits can be found in Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300

Oregon has no statutes governing how much a landlord may charge for a security deposit or where the security deposit must be kept. In addition, there is no statute saying that it must be returned with interest.

A landlord has 31 days following the termination of the lease to return the security deposit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(13)).

The landlord is expected to present the tenant with an itemized list of damages if they withhold any portion of the security deposit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(14)).

In addition, a landlord may require the tenant to pay for the cleaning of a carpet upon their moving out by deducting that from their security deposit, but only if they mention this in the lease (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(7a)(A)).

Lastly, a landlord must present a tenant with receipts for all deductions (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(2a)).

Failure to comply with Oregon’s security deposit statutes allows the tenant to sue the landlord for twice the amount of the security deposit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(16)).

A landlord may charge a tenant a pet deposit so long as the animal is not a registered service animal (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(4)).

Oregon Laws Relating to Rent

Generally speaking, landlords and tenants can come to agreement determining when and how rent should be paid. Landlords are advised to stipulate their terms in the lease and tenants are advised to make note of them and honor the contract. The only regulation Oregon puts on this agreement is that rent may not be considered “due” prior to the first day of each rental period (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.220(3)).

If a landlord wishes to increase the rent, they must stipulate their terms in the lease. Generally speaking, a landlord must give a tenant a 90-day written notice of the change in terms. In the first year of a month-to-month lease, a landlord may not raise the rent at all. If the tenancy is week-to-week, a landlord must give seven days notice.

Oregon grants tenants a grace period of four days (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.260(1)) and landlords are allowed to charge late fees but only if stipulated as such in the lease. Landlords can charge a flat fee after the fifth day of a payment cycle. There are restrictions on the fee, however. A landlord must not charge more than 5% of the cost of rent for one month. This amount must be mentioned in the lease. Furthermore, a landlord may – instead of charging a flat fee – charge 6% of the flat fee every day that rent is late (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.260(1)(2)).

In addition, a landlord is allowed to ask for prepaid rent at the signing of the lease. Typically, landlords ask for first month’s rent and security deposit. If they wish to ask for last month’s rent as well, they can, but that money absolves the tenant of paying for the last month of rent. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.300(9)).

A landlord may charge for a bounced check but no more than $35 plus the bank costs of processing the check.

Implied Warranty of Habitability in Oregon

Properties are rented under the implied warranty of habitability. That means that the property must provide tenants with basic protection from the weather and various other services that justify the cost of renting the property.

If the rental property fails to provide essential services, a tenant can withhold rent until the problem is fixed. Tenants are advised to hold the money in escrow while the landlord has an opportunity to fix the damage (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.365).

Under Oregon law, a landlord must provide a tenant with:

  • Waterproofing and weather protection,
  • Functioning plumbing facilities,
  • Hot and cold water,
  • Safe drinking water,
  • Adequate heat,
  • Working electricity,
  • Clean and sanitary living conditions,
  • Walls, ceilings, railings, and stairways in good repair,
  • Smoke detectors and safety from fire hazards,
  • Carbon monoxide detectors,
  • Working locks.

In addition, a tenant is allowed to fix habitability problems with property themselves and then deduct that money from the rent (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.368).

Laws Regarding the Termination of a Lease

Either party may terminate a lease that is month-to-month on 30 days of notice unless the tenant has lived there for over a year (Or. Rev. Stat. § 91.070). Then 60 days is required.

In addition, neither party must give notice to terminate a lease with a fixed end date (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.427).

If the tenant is on a year-to-year lease, either party must give 60 days notice to terminate the lease (Or. Rev. Stat. § 91.060).

Either party must give seven days notice to terminate a week-to-week lease (Or. Rev. Stat. § 91.050). If the tenant has lived there for more than one year, then either party must give 10 days notice.

If a landlord sells the property and the new owner would prefer not to keep the current tenants, the landlord will typically only have to give the tenants 30 days notice to vacate (Or. Rev. Stat. § 91.070). However, there is one situation in which the landlord is forced to give the tenant 60 days to vacate.

For that statute to be triggered, all of the following must be true:

  •   The dwelling unit was purchased separately of other dwelling units;
  •   The landlord has accepted an offer to purchase from an owner who will occupy the unit;
  •   The landlord has provided notice to the tenant within 120 days of accepting the offer (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.427).

If a tenant is the victim of domestic violence, the tenant is allowed to give the landlord 14 days notice that he or she will move from the property. The tenant is required to fill out a form, a sample of which can be found here. The landlord must honor the tenant’s decision to find a new place to live (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.453(2b)). A tenant may also ask to have the locks changed (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.459).

Eviction and Termination Due to Violations of the Lease

If a tenant fails to pay a landlord for rent, the landlord can issue the tenant a six-day notice to remedy or quit. In other words, they must pay up or be evicted. The landlord must wait until the fifth day of the rental period. If a landlord waits until the eighth day, then he or she can issue a three-day notice to remedy or quit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.394(2)).

If the lease is week-to-week, the landlord must give the tenant three days to remedy or quit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.394(1)).

In the case of a lease violation, a landlord must give a tenant 30 days to remedy or quit. If this is a second offense, the landlord can give the tenant 10 days (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.392).

During the course of eviction proceedings, a landlord may neither lock the tenant out of the property nor shut off the utilities (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.375).

In extreme situations, a landlord can give the tenant 24 hours notice to vacate the premises or initiate eviction proceedings.

Situations that may trigger this statute are:

A landlord may not, however, retaliate against a tenant for exercising their legal rights, filing a complaint against the landlord, or asking that habitability issues be rectified (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.385).

Notice of Entry on Tenant’s Rental Premises

Tenants are allowed their privacy. A landlord must give a tenant 24 hours notice before entering the property (Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.322). If the landlord enters the property due to an emergency, the landlord must give the tenant notice after the fact within 24 hours.

Landlord Disclosures

Landlords must disclose:

Business Licenses

There are no statewide statutes governing the requirement for landlords to have business licenses. Local municipalities, however, may require them.

This blog entry is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

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