We are all living in a world we never expected. We are dealing with a whole lot of uncertainty and change, and there is a lot of information coming at us fast. It's hard to keep track of everything you need to know, so I wanted to offer a quick summary of what is happening in the rental property world.
I write this from the perspective of a licensed property manager, not a lawyer. Nothing here should be taken as legal advice or opinion, and I recommend you consult a lawyer before making any decisions.
Some great ones to check in with:
Mailing Address: 9999 SW Wilshire Street, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97225
Now let's get down to it.
Oregon Executive Orders
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has issued a series of Executive Orders to handle issues that Oregonians are dealing with as the pandemic unfolds. An updated list of these orders can be found here. An early Executive Order prohibits law enforcement from serving or enforcing evictions. This gave us a pretty clear message that tenants could not be evicted, but not a lot of details. Under addition orders, landlords or property managers may not issue termination notices or file, prosecute, or execute evictions for non-payment of rent, utilities, service charges, late fees, or other charges. Tenants can also not be charged late fees for non payment of rent. We are also directed to not issue any no-cause, or landlord-cause terminations or evictions. Oregon law already limited instances when these tools are allowed, but these Executive Orders put a temporary stop to them entirely.
Some 'high need' evictions for things like domestic violence, or other things that would be covered by a 24 hour notice to vacate are still allowed, although processes in county courts may vary. Further information will be needed to be sure these are processed correctly, and this is probably a good time to consult a lawyer. No evictions for non payment, or no-cause can be served, and a violation is a Class-C Misdemeanor.
The important distinction is that rent is still due. Once the Executive Orders are lifted, rent will be due, although we don't have details statewide on how long tenants will be given to catch up on rent in an new orders or laws.
The Oregon Legislature has not taken any action toward the pandemic as of writing this on April 16th. We expect action to eventually be taken. We hope to see rent assistance dollars to support tenants that are not able to pay or catch up on back rent, and expect to see rules about repayment once the Executive Orders are lifted.
Federal CARES Act
The Federal CARES Act does not have a blanket prohibition on evictions, but does create rules for what are being referred to as 'covered' properties. Covered properties are properties with federally-backed mortgages, including those covered by HUD, USDA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If a landlord has one of these mortgages, they are required to comply with a moratorium on evictions. This act also provides for some mortgage relief, but each bank is handling this in a different way, so call your lender to find out if relief is available.
Local jurisdictions are imposing their own bans and rules. Some went into effect before the Executive Order, others are more specific. For example, in Multnomah County, there is an moratorium on evictions for non payment that lasts until the emergency has been lifted. At that time, tenants have 6 months to catch up on rent that hasn't been paid during the emergency. Be sure to check your local cities and counties for special ordinances that may effect your rental.