When you rent a house or apartment to another person, you enter into a legal contract that creates a landlord-tenant relationship. This contract has certain basic conditions set by law that you should understand before you enter into this type of agreement.
You have the rights and duties explained below whether your contract with the tenant is written or oral. A written agreement is best because it serves as a record of terms and conditions you may wish to include, such as whether or not pets are allowed. If you wish to arrange terms for more than one year, the agreement must be in writing to be enforceable.
- You have the right to receive rent for the use of your property.
- The Covid-19 pandemic response created temporary changes to laws for evicting tenants based on non-payment of rent. Tenants now have until February 28, 2022 to pay rent owed from April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Tenants 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 issue a 10 day notice to pay rent – but only for rent from July 2021 onwards.
- If your tenant is behind on rent you can encourage them to apply for help at https://www.oregonrentalassistance.org/ or by calling 211.
- If the tenant moves out before the end of the rental term, you may try to collect the unpaid rent for the rest of the time in the agreement. However, you must first make a reasonable effort to rent the house or apartment again. You must take these steps even if the tenant has a written lease. In a month-to-month or week-to-week tenancy, your right to collect rent is limited to the usual length of the rental period.
- You typically have the right to protect your property through reasonable inspection, to make repairs, and to show the property to possible buyers.
- You must give at least 24 hours-notice of your intent to enter unless the tenant has asked in writing for repairs within the last seven days or there is an emergency.
- You have the right to have your property returned at the end of the rental term in the same condition it was received, except for normal wear and tear.
- It is your responsibility to provide a home that is habitable and to make repairs when needed.
- You must equip the residence with a properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detector and provide the initial set of batteries if it is battery operated.
- By renting your property to the tenant, you give that tenant the right to possess and use your property, free from interference.
- You may not enter frequently, at odd hours, without a legitimate reason or without notice.
- You cannot lock a tenant out.
- The only exception to the no lockout rule is when a tenant who can demonstrate they have been the victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault asks to have the perpetrator tenant locked out of the unit where the victim of the crime continues to live.
- As a landlord, you are responsible for observing federal, state and local fair housing laws.
- When you rent your property to someone, you must give them your name and address or the name and address of your authorized manager.
- You cannot discriminate against a tenant for having children, because of their disability, or because of their religion, race, sex, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
- When a tenant is applying to rent, you cannot consider a tenant’s past eviction case that they successfully defended.
- You cannot consider a tenant’s Covid-era eviction judgment from April 1, 2020 – March 1, 2022.
- You cannot discriminate against a tenant because they were a victim of a domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking crime.
- For more information about your fair housing duties, visit the Fair Housing Council of Oregon.
- It is illegal to retaliate against a tenant by raising the rent, shutting off utilities, or trying to evict the tenant because they complained to you or a public agency about habitability conditions, discrimination or other violations of the law, or because the tenant joined or formed a tenants organization.
- You must account for or refund to the tenant any security deposits after the tenant moves out. You must give the tenant a written accounting that states specifically why you kept a portion or all of the deposit within 31 days of the rental agreement. If you do not comply with this requirement, the tenant can sue you for twice the amount of the deposit.
Notices to Terminate the Tenancy
- To end a month-to-month tenancy during the first year of the tenancy, you must give your tenant a 30-day written notice, unless the rental unit is in the city of Portland, where 90 days’ notice and payment of relocation costs is required for no-cause terminations. The tenant may also terminate the tenancy with a 30-day written notice. A week-to-week rental period requires a 10-day notice.
- If your tenant has lived in the dwelling for more than a year, you cannot terminate the tenancy for no cause unless you have a “qualifying landlord reason.” Qualifying landlord reasons are:
- You intend to demolish the dwelling unit or convert it to a non-residential use, or
- You intend to do repairs or renovations which would render the unit unsafe, or
- You intend to move yourself or a close family member into the unit, or
- You have accepted an offer to purchase the dwelling unit from a person who intends to occupy it.
- A fixed term tenancy less than one year will automatically convert to a month-to-month tenancy after the expiration of the fixed term unless the landlord has given a notice of termination at least 30 days prior to the end date stated in the rental agreement.
- In Portland, a landlord must still give at least 90 days’ notice of intent not to renew a fixed term tenancy. You cannot end a fixed term tenancy early unless you have cause to end it, such as a violation of the lease by the tenant.
- If a tenant (or someone in the tenant’s control) threatens to or inflicts substantial personal injury to a person on the property or neighbor, intentionally inflicts substantial damage to the property, or commits an act that is outrageous in the extreme, you may give the tenant a 24-hour notice to leave.
- The notice must be in writing in a special legal form.
- The notice must explain the reason for termination, and it must be delivered personally to the tenant or mailed to the tenant by first class mail only. If a notice is mailed, you must add three days to the notice time. (The additional three days does not include the date of mailing.)
- The legal form of the notice must be correct in all details in order to be enforced in court.
- If the tenant ignores your notices and you want the tenant to move out, you must file an eviction complaint in court.
- The tenant must be properly served with a summons and complaint.
- There will be a hearing and possibly a trial where you can ask that the tenant be evicted. If the judge or jury agrees, you will be granted a judgment entitling you to possession of the property.
- If the tenant does not move after the judgment, you must pay the sheriff to come to the property to remove the tenant.
- You are responsible for temporarily storing any of the tenant’s remaining property until you make reasonable efforts to give the belongings back and they become legally “abandoned”.
Requirements around returning tenant property can get complicated, so you should seek legal advice. Read “When Tenants Leave Belongings Behind
” in this series for more information.
Legal editor: Kevin Mehrens, June 2021