Note: This topic will cover rules for landlords in conventional rental housing
-- not housing in a mobile home park or floating home facility. For
information about those facilities, please read Reasonable Rules in Mobile Home Parks and Floating Home Facilities.
As a landlord under Oregon’s landlord-tenant law, you can have rules or regulations about how tenants use and occupy the premises. Premises means the actual dwelling unit a tenant rents, the structure of that unit, and the grounds, areas and facilities for the general use of tenants. You might have rules that regulate the use of parking spaces and establish laundry room operating hours. You might also establish rules about noise levels at different hours of the day, or rules about owning pets. If you are a landlord of subsidized housing, you may face more restrictions when it comes to setting rules.
For you to legally enforce your rules or regulations, the following conditions must be met:
Rules and regulations that do not meet all of these conditions are not valid.
If you adopt a new rule or regulation after a tenant has signed the rental agreement, and the new rule or regulation greatly changes the rental agreement, the rule or regulation is not valid unless the tenant agrees to it in writing. For example, a new rule that reduces the number of parking spaces for each dwelling unit from two to one would change the original deal quite a bit. A rule that states which two parking spaces are assigned to a given dwelling unit might not make as big a difference. Written agreement by a tenant is needed only when the rule greatly changes the original rental agreement. If the tenant does not agree, it is unlawful to retaliate against the tenant by reducing services, raising rent or attempting to evict.
Landlords can impose new rules or change existing rules only after giving tenants a minimum of 30 days’ written notice, or at the end of a lease term if the lease itself does not allow changes during the term.
You may also adopt occupancy guidelines as rules. An occupancy guideline is a restriction on the number of people who may live in a dwelling unit. Occupancy guidelines are optional, but they must meet the following conditions:
You must be careful about the potential effect of occupancy guidelines or other rules that you impose. Not only can anti-discrimination laws protect tenants from intentional, deliberate discriminatory treatment, they also protect tenants from the “disparate impact” of rules on people in certain categories. For example, a landlord’s policy to evict all tenants who have been victims of sex crimes would have a disparate impact on women, and would probably violate anti-discrimination laws as well as Oregon’s landlord-tenant law.
Legal editor: Ed Johnson, July 2013