In most cases, this is weaker than the protection provided by EO 20-56. This makes the executive order more relevant to Oregonians.
A landlord cannot serve a termination notice or file an eviction case for nonpayment until after Dec. 31, 2020. This includes nonpayment of rent, late fees or other payments associated with the tenancy incurred between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, unless the law changes, landlords will be able to take action against tenants for missing payments that come due in 2021. This also applies to payments that came due between Oct. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. There is a grace period through March 31, 2021, for payments incurred between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020.
For example, if a tenant did not pay rent in May of 2020 or September of 2020, but paid rent every month after that, the landlord would not be able to take action on the unpaid rent from May and September until April 1, 2021. But, if a tenant kept up with their rent during the emergency period but missed rent in January, a landlord could evict that person in January.
Under the CDC eviction moratorium, which lasts through Dec. 31, 2020, if a tenant files a declaration saying:
The legality of the CDC eviction moratorium order has been challenged, but it is currently good law.
None of the above explanations cover terminations “for cause” where the cause is something other than nonpayment. Causes that violate a rental agreement may include:
A landlord can give a termination notice and seek to evict the tenant if they fail to move out at the end of the termination notice.
But, termination notices for no cause are prohibited by the state moratorium during the emergency period. A no-cause notice may be for a landlord reason such as wanting to repair the dwelling or convert it to a nonresidential use. However, under EO 20-56, a landlord may give a termination notice asking that the tenants move out in 90 days if the landlord or an immediate family member of the landlord wants to move in. This also applies if the landlord has sold the premises to someone who plans to move in.
Governor Brown has ordered all businesses to maintain social distancing within the workplace. She has not specifically addressed this issue. Nevertheless, the order suggests that a landlord should not be entering a rented property unless absolutely necessary (like for emergency repairs of leaks, breaks, power outages, etc.). The landlord should only perform an inspection while maintaining a distance of six feet from any other person. The landlord also should not come into contact with the surfaces of the home. If this cannot be done, then the landlord should wait until the state of emergency ends to conduct inspections.
Additionally, ORS 90.322(1)(f) allows a tenant to deny consent to a landlord who wishes to enter the premises with a 24-hour notice. The denial must be in writing and must be posted on the main entrance to the premises. A tenant cannot deny lawful access without risking the termination of the tenancy. So, any denial of entry for COVID-19 related reasons should state so in the written denial posted on the door.
A landlord who insists upon entry when a tenant has denied entry may be subject to civil penalties. In addition, failure to comply with the governor’s social distancing order is a Class C misdemeanor.
If you are low-income, contact your local Legal Aid office. You can find your local office at https://oregonlawhelp.org/find-legal-help. If you do not qualify for legal aid services, contact the Oregon State Bar's Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 452-7636.
If you are a veteran, disabled, elderly or under a certain income level, additional services may be available in your area. If you need help connecting to services in your area, call 311.
If your landlord tries to forcibly remove you from your home, call your local law enforcement.
The COVID-19 situation is changing on a daily basis. These answers are our best interpretation of the state’s precautions as of Oct. 5, 2020. Please check these websites to monitor changes:
-Elliott Farren, Oregon Law Center, Eugene