Most tenants in Oregon have month-to-month rental agreements. If you have this type of tenancy, it means that you pay rent once a month and your rental agreement continues until either you or your landlord decides to end it. In a month-to-month tenancy, your landlord may increase the rent by giving you at least 30 days’ written notice of the rent increase. A rent increase may begin any time during a month. The rent for a month during which the rent increase takes effect would be prorated. Unless you can show that the rent increase is retaliatory, discriminatory or imposed in bad faith, you must pay the new rent.
If you pay rent weekly instead of monthly, and the length of your rental agreement is indefinite, your landlord must give you written notice of a rent increase seven days before the increase goes into effect.
Instead of establishing a month-to-month or week-to-week tenancy, you and your landlord may agree to a rental agreement with a definite period of time. A rental agreement for a fixed term is called a lease. Usually, a lease will state the amount of rent you must pay while the lease is in effect. Your lease may also list a method for increasing rents during the term. If it doesn’t, no change in the rent can be made. The lease may state that the tenant can be evicted at the end of the rental period without further notice. If you want to stay after the end of such a lease, it is important to talk to the landlord about a new arrangement well in advance of the end of the lease period. If the lease does not say a specific ending date that requires no notice, you and your landlord are free to talk about a new lease or to end the rental relationship. If there is no new lease, the tenancy automatically turns into a regular month-to-month agreement with month-to-month rules.
Somewhat different rules apply to rent increases for month-to-month tenancies in mobile home parks — also called manufactured dwelling facilities — and floating home facilities. To increase your rent in one of these tenancies, the facility landlord must give you and each affected tenant a written notice at least 90 days before the date of the rent increase. This written notice must clearly explain the amount of the rent increase, the amount of the new rent, and the date on which the rent increase becomes effective.
A facility landlord may not increase rent under a fixed term lease unless the lease specifically states that the landlord can do so.
Oregon law generally does not allow cities and counties to enact local laws that limit the amount of rent landlords can charge. However, the law does allow a state agency or a local government to regulate rents on residential property if that agency has provided benefits designed to reduce rents for low-income tenants. Such benefits include measures like property tax exemptions and long term financing.
An important exception is that the city of Portland has challenged the authority of the Oregon state government to control landlord-tenant laws throughout the state. By ordinance, beginning Nov. 13, 2015, landlords within Portland city limits are required to give no less than 90 days’ advance written notice for any rent increase that is 5 percent or more over a 12-month period. The notice must specify the amount of the increase, the new rent amount, and the date the increase becomes effective. Portland landlords who fail to comply with these requirements can be found liable for damages of up to 3 months’ rent, plus attorney fees and costs. (Note: While litigation has been filed to challenge the city of Portland ordinance, unless and until it is overturned, the ordinance should be followed. Check with a knowledgeable attorney regarding the status of this issue.)
Likewise, federal low-income housing subsidies typically restrict a landlord’s right to increase tenant rents, at least for a period of time.
Subsidized housing landlords must follow all regulations and contracts that apply to their property in order to raise the rents. If you are a tenant in subsidized housing, you may insist on some evidence that the government agency providing the housing subsidy has approved the rent increase.
In most government owned public housing and government rent subsidy programs, tenants are usually required to pay 30 percent of their incomes for rent. The amount of household income is usually reviewed at least once a year, and the tenant may have obligations to report increases or decreases in income to the public housing authority and/or to the landlord.
Mark L. Busch, January 2016