When you rent a house or an apartment, you enter into a legal contract. This creates a landlord-tenant relationship. As a tenant, you have certain rights and responsibilities. If you or the landlord want to change your rental agreement, you should both agree to the changes in writing.
Tenant Right of Exclusive Possession
- This means that even though the landlord owns the property, you have the right to your privacy. No one may invade your home without legal authority.
- Your landlord must give you at least 24 hours notice before entering the property. Except when:
- there is an emergency, or
- you have requested repairs or maintenance (without designating certain dates and times), or
- your lease allows the landlord to enter the grounds (outside only) for yard maintenance.
- After 24 hour notice, your landlord may enter the property to:
- make inspections,
- make necessary repairs,
- supply necessary services, or
- show the property to prospective buyers or work people.
- You may deny your landlord permission to enter on a reasonable basis only. You cannot deny permission to enter in a way that keeps the landlord from carrying out their rights and responsibilities.
Tenant Right to a Habitable Home
- This means that the property must be safe and sanitary.
- The space must be free of pests. There must be proper wiring, plumbing, heating and weatherproofing. The landlord must maintain these conditions at all times.
- If repairs are needed for safety or sanitation, your landlord must make such repairs without charging you for them.
- If you caused the problem, the landlord still must make the repair if you don’t do it. You are responsible for the cost.
- If a landlord refuses to make repairs (and you did not cause the problem), you may correct the problem if you first give written notice to the landlord.
- In the notice, be sure to define the problem and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs.
- In some circumstances, you may then deduct the cost of the repairs from your rent, after submitting the receipts to the landlord.
- The law limits the time you have to wait, the kinds of problems you may fix, and the amount of money you can spend.
- Before taking any kind of action on repairs, you should check with a lawyer.
- You can use the property only as a home.
- You must keep the property reasonably clean.
- You may not tamper with the smoke alarms or damage the property. You are responsible for the cost of replacing batteries in smoke alarms in the rental unit as needed. You are also responsible for checking the alarms every six months to ensure they work.
- You must behave in a manner that will not disturb your neighbors.
- You must pay your rent on time.
- If you are behind on rent or are worried about paying future rent, visit https://www.oregonrentalassistance.org/ or call 211.
- There are temporary Covid changes to laws about evictions for non-payment of rent. You have until February 28, 2022 to pay rent owed from April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Landlords cannot charge late fees on this past-due rent and you cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent during this time period until March 1, 2022.
- Beginning July 1, 2021 tenants must pay current rent. If rent is 8 days past due, you may receive a 10 day notice to pay rent – but only for rent from July 2021 onwards.
- After July 1, your landlord may charge certain fees for late rent going forward.
- At the end of the rental arrangement, you must return the property to your landlord in the same condition in which you received it except for reasonable wear and tear.
- If you cause serious harm to your landlord or their property or to other people on the rental property, or you have committed outrageous acts there, your landlord can give you a 24-hour written notice to leave. This notice must tell you why you are being evicted.
- If you pay a deposit when you rent a house or apartment, the landlord must account for the deposit within 31 days after you move out. The landlord may keep only the amount necessary to pay for any damage directly caused by you, absent normal wear and tear, unless your rental agreement says something different. The landlord can also keep your security deposit for the amount of any unpaid rent.
For more information see Fees and Deposits
- The landlord cannot evict you for illegal or discriminatory reasons.
- The landlord may not issue a termination notice because you joined or created a tenant organization.
- If you have a rental agreement for a specific period, you may not be evicted before the end of that term without a good reason.
- If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, within the first year of the tenancy either you or your landlord can end the agreement with a 30-day written notice.
- In the city of Portland, landlords must give a 90-day notice for no-cause terminations.
- The landlord does not have to tell you the reason for the 30-day —or in Portland, 90-day —notice, but the reason must be a lawful one.
- For instance, the landlord must not issue a no-cause termination notice in retaliation against you for complaining about conditions to the landlord or a public agency.
- For more information on eviction notices, visit Oregon Law Help
- If the landlord has properly served you with a notice and you do not comply, the landlord can pursue a court order to have you evicted.
- You have the right to appear at the court hearing to challenge the landlord’s request for an eviction order.
- Until the landlord has obtained a court order to evict you, he or she may not try to force you to leave by removing your belongings, locking you out of the unit, or shutting off your utilities.
- If you do not win the court case to evict you, the landlord may have the sheriff remove you from the unit. The court may order you to pay the landlord’s court costs and legal fees.
Legal editor: Kevin Mehrens, June 2021