By: Mark L. Busch, P.C. Attorney at Law
December 15th, 2021
In a special session, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 891 that extends nonpayment eviction protections for tenants. Tenants are now granted a “safe harbor” from nonpayment evictions as long as they have applied for rental assistance and provided proof to their landlord that they have applied.
The safe harbor protection lasts until the tenant’s application is no longer pending (i.e., the rental assistance has been paid out or denied). This eliminates the current 60-day or 90-day postponement periods, and instead grants protection until as long as September 30, 2022 if a tenant’s application is still pending with a state or local rental assistance agency. Under SB 891, tenants can apply for rental assistance until June 30, 2022 to qualify for the safe harbor protection. (Note: Rental assistance agencies are supposed to notify both the landlord and tenant if the tenant’s application is no longer pending.)
A companion bill (SB 5561) allocates $100 million in additional funds for rental assistance, as well as $10 million to a landlord guarantee fund. Landlords who have not been paid rental assistance can directly apply for rental compensation after certain dates have passed related to a particular tenancy for which the landlord has not been paid. The guarantee fund is administered online by Home Forward.
Practically speaking, SB 891 means that landlords: (1) Cannot issue nonpayment notices if they know that a tenant has applied for rental assistance; (2) cannot file or continue to pursue a nonpayment eviction case in court if a tenant has applied for rental assistance; (3) must request that the court postpone any pending nonpayment eviction cases until the tenant’s rental assistance application is no longer pending; (4) continue using 10-day rent nonpayment forms until September 30, 2022; and, (5) UPDATE YOUR CURRENT 10-DAY FORMS since new language must be added to the form explaining these protections to tenants.
If a nonpayment eviction court case is postponed, it must remain postponed until the tenant’s rental assistance application has been either approved and paid, or denied. Reinstated court cases will be reset for a new first appearance hearing and will then proceed as usual. Finally, it appears that tenants can reapply for additional rental assistance through June 30, 2022 for new amounts that become due, so be sure to consult with your attorney before proceeding with any new nonpayment notices if this situation arises.
The Landlord Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice for any specific issue that might arise, since every situation is different. Always consult a knowledgeable landlord attorney with your specific legal issues.