ORHA News

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  • Thursday, July 07, 2022 2:26 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 07/01/2022

    Hooray! We’re finally through what we hope will be the last of the pandemic-related restrictions on landlords. For more than two years, we have been pummeled with an ever-changing overlay of extreme provisions that were designed to keep renters in their homes but created an expensive nightmare for many landlords. Remember, though, that while tenants cannot stop a nonpayment of rent eviction by showing application for rent assistance, you must still include the IMPORTANT NOTICE in any termination notice for nonpayment through September 30, 2022. Landlords are also still required to use 10- or 13-day notices for nonpayment through September 30, 2022.

    The silver lining of the pandemic for housing providers was the inability of radical tenant advocates to enact their over-the-top agenda for exacerbating the housing crisis. Of course, they don’t see it that way. From their perspective the reason for the housing crisis lies at the feet of ‘bad’ landlords (the minority of landlords); therefore, all their ideas involve ‘solutions’ that make it harder for us (the largest group of small business owners in the state) to remove ‘bad’ tenants (the minority of tenants) who violate their agreements.

    And what is next in store? Great news for attorneys - let’s provide free legal representation to tenants in eviction court. Members of the Eviction Representation for All campaign began collecting signatures this week and hope to get the measure on November’s ballot. It would impose a 0.75% capital gains tax on residents and is estimated to generate an average of $15 million a year. The measure would guarantee tenants a right to a lawyer if they’re evicted, as well as impose stronger protections for tenants throughout the courts process. It would allow tenants to apply for grants to get smaller amounts of rent paid while they wait for rent assistance to kick in, or to get landlord fees paid off if they get evicted.

    And these supposedly smart people wonder why there’s less and less housing…because many folks are getting out of the business or selling their rentals in Oregon and buying in more reasonable states like Arizona, Idaho, Florida, and Texas. The Office of Economic Analysis put out a statistic that 23 of Oregon's 36 counties are in the 300 worst counties for affordability in the entire country – not surprising.

    But instead of acknowledging that increasing restrictions contribute to fewer housing options and higher rental rates in Oregon, they intend to double down and increase taxes at the same time, during the worst inflationary period since the 1970’s. We will require landlords to accept many types of criminals, reduce the amount of security deposits they can charge, require them to allow for-profit daycare in our rentals, take away the no-cause options, tighten the rent cap, and enact localized layers of restrictions that make it harder to keep track of what we can and cannot do, and then tenant advocates and legislators will scratch their heads wondering why there’s still a crisis. It reminds me of one of my dad’s favorite sayings, “Don’t bother me with the facts, my mind’s made up!”

    That’s exactly what’s happening in Eugene, even though an Econ Northwest study showed that since these types of radical restrictions were implemented in Portland, the city has seen a 25% reduction in single-family rental housing stock, driving up prices more and more. Where will it end? It won’t until we achieve balance in our legislature. Fingers crossed that we’ll achieve that goal in November…

  • Thursday, July 07, 2022 2:18 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 07/06/2022

    Hello all, I look forward to seeing the group for our July meetings in Silverton! On Friday July 15, 2022, ORHA will be having their committee meetings – If you are a delegate and would like to join a committee meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the schedule and links (these were previously emailed out on 06/04/2022). Additionally, on Saturday July 16, 2022, ORHA will be having their July board meeting – If you are a delegate and would like to join the board meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the meeting link and required NDA. Lastly, Board Members, please keep an eye out in your email for the finalized board packet early this week.

    If you plan on attending the meetings, the in-person attendance RSVP deadline has already passed; however, online attendance can still be accommodated. Reservation details were previously presented in the May board packet and were emailed out on 06/04/2022. If you have any questions, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com.

    We have recently completed setting up our new ORHA emails for Executive Committee Members and ORHA Committee Chairs. Please see the following updates:

    Executive Committee (Email All) | ORHAExecutiveCommittee@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Tia Politi, President
    | President@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Benjamyn Seamans, Vice President | VicePresident@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Cloud Miller, Admin | Admin@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Violet Wilson, Secretary | Secretary@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Dennis Chappa, Treasurer | Treasurer@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Sage Coleman, Past President | PastPresident@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Jason Miller, Advisor 1 | Advisor1@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Maria Menguita, Advisor 2 | Advisor2@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Jill Maricich, Director at Large 1 | Director1@OregonRentalHousing.com

    Lori Black, Bookkeeper | Bookkeeper@OregonRentalHousing.com

    Cloud Miller, Technology Committee Chair | Technology@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Maria Menguita, Social Media Committee Chair | SocialMedia@OregonRentalHousing.com
    Alex Wilkens, Survey Committee Chair | Survey@OregonRentalHousing.com

    Coming Soon: Education Committee Chair Email & Forms Committee Chair Email

    Our office is periodically checking emails and voicemails Monday through Thursday should you have any questions or concerns; however, please be advised that ORHA will not be returning calls or emails regarding landlord helpline questions or tenant questions. If you are a current member looking to contact your local association or are new member looking to join a local association, please visit www.oregonrentalhousing.com/about.

    Thank you to Tia, Lance, and Rick for being regular contributors to the newsletter! To submit your ideas for an upcoming newsletter, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com by the 1st of the month.

    ** Reminder that the ORHA Monthly Membership Dues Form must be submitted by the 15th of each month before late fees are assessed**

    Benjamyn Seamans
    office@oregonrentalhousing.com | Voicemail: (541) 515-7723

  • Thursday, July 07, 2022 1:46 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 07/01/2022

    In a perfect world, residents give notice to vacate, move out at the exact date and time agreed, and leave the property in great condition. It’s fantastic when that happens. But while many move-outs go something like that, many do not. Perhaps the most difficult scenario for the end of a tenancy is when a tenant just stops communicating, you have no idea what’s going on or where they are, and no idea whether they are still living in or claiming a right of possession to your rental unit. 

    Landlord-tenant law does provide for the re-taking of a rental unit upon tenant abandonment. According to ORS 90.147(2)(b)(c) a landlord may infer abandonment based on a tenant’s actions that imply relinquishment:

    After the expiration of an outstanding termination of tenancy notice or the end of a term tenancy, the landlord reasonably believes, under all the circumstances, that the tenant has relinquished or no longer claims the right to occupy the dwelling unit to the exclusion of others; or the landlord reasonably knows of the tenant’s abandonment of the dwelling unit. 

    But how can you really know whether your rental property has been legally abandoned, and, if necessary, how do you prove it in a court of law? First, what are the circumstances? Has a notice to terminate been issued by one party or the other? Have the residents been gone for more than seven days without notice? Have the utilities been taken out of their name? Do neighbors report seeing activity consistent with moving away? If so, that can be some indication of abandonment. 

    The other information you need is inside the dwelling unit, but because your tenant still has legal possession, you need to provide a 24-hour notice to enter before you can go check it out. Once inside, what do you see? Are there items present that might indicate residency such as food in the kitchen, a bed or bedding, and toiletries in the bathroom? If so, it’s likely they have not abandoned the property. If those things are absent, it’s likely that the tenant has left; however, just because you don’t find food, bedding or toiletries in the unit doesn’t mean they don’t intend to return, or have willfully surrendered their right to possession. Maybe the tenant was almost done moving, but suffered an accident or injury, or maybe they intend to come back to retrieve some final items or clean up. How can you know? 

    It’s hard to be certain, and it’s risky to re-take possession by claiming legal abandonment – mainly being sued for unlawful ouster, with the associated financial penalties.

    90.375 Effect of unlawful ouster or exclusion; willful diminution of services. If a landlord unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises, seriously attempts or seriously threatens unlawfully to remove or exclude the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes or seriously attempts or seriously threatens unlawfully to diminish services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric or other essential service, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to recover possession or may terminate the rental agreement and recover an amount up to two months’ periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater. If the rental agreement is terminated the landlord shall return all security deposits and prepaid rent recoverable under ORS 90.300. The tenant need not terminate the rental agreement, obtain injunctive relief or recover possession to recover damages under this section. 

    Operate in bad faith and the penalties could rise from there. A forcible entry and unlawful detainer (FED) action provides a tenant with due process, and a chance to present their side of a case. When you just take the property back without notice they are deprived of that right, and that’s not something to be taken lightly.

    If you serve your notice to enter and find that all the tenant’s belongings are there, there’s no sign of moving, and no sign of them, before you assume abandonment, there’s a few places to check, starting with the local jail. If you do confirm that the tenant is incarcerated, to my mind they have not willfully abandoned the property. You may serve whatever termination notice is appropriate to the situation, and proceed to court on that, or move forward on a previously issued notice of termination by you or them, once it expires.

    If you check the jail and your tenant isn’t there, another possibility is that your tenant may have suffered a medical emergency. Reach out to their emergency contacts to alert friends or family to the fact that you haven’t had contact and are concerned about their welfare. They may know something or not, but it’s a place to start. You can call the local hospitals, but likely won’t get any information based on the HIPPA privacy laws. You may also call the police to alert them to the potentially missing person and ask about recent accidents. 

    It’s also possible that your tenant is deceased (what attorney Brian Cox describes as, The Ultimate Act of Abandonment !), and you may enter only to find their body. You may see their obituary in the paper, or be notified of the passing by a friend or relative. One of my residents died in her unit just after rent had been paid for the month, so I had no idea there was a problem, but after a couple of weeks of not seeing her the other tenants in the complex gathered together to talk about it, and took it upon themselves to call the police to do a welfare check, where she was found deceased inside. They then advised me of the situation. Calling the police to perform a welfare check is the correct way to handle this type of entry in these types of circumstances. 

    Even after confirming the passing of your tenant, there could still be obstacles to re-taking possession by asserting legal abandonment. For example, a lawful caregiver, a temporary occupant, or a guest and their dependents may still be occupying the unit. Or there could be family members who are in the unit going through and disposing of personal property. In the case of a caregiver or temporary occupant, once the lawful tenant has passed away, their right of possession terminates, and this person becomes a squatter in the eyes of the law. Any other unauthorized occupants, even family members or guests, are also considered squatters under the law. 

    ORS 90.100
    (44) “Squatter” means a person occupying a dwelling unit who is not so entitled under a rental agreement or who is not authorized by the tenant to occupy that dwelling unit. “Squatter” does not include a tenant who holds over as described in ORS 90.427 (11).
    (48) “Tenant”:
    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection:
    (A) Means a person, including a roomer, entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a dwelling unit to the exclusion of others, including a dwelling unit owned, operated or controlled by a public housing authority.
    (B) Means a minor, as defined and provided for in ORS 109.697.
    (b) For purposes of ORS 90.505 to 90.850, means only a person who owns and occupies as a residence a manufactured dwelling or a floating home in a facility and persons residing with that tenant under the terms of the rental agreement.
    (c) Does not mean a guest or temporary occupant. 

    I once had two tenants pass away. The first was a very long-term Section 8 tenant, who had raised her two now-adult daughters in the unit and they were still residing there. We worked with them and HACSA (now Homes for Good) to continue the tenancy. In the other case, we had a single-person tenancy for a man who had given his notice to vacate effective January 31st, but he passed away in early January. After he gave his notice, but before he died, he had tried to get other family members to take over the tenancy, but they didn’t qualify and their applications were denied, so once I read of his passing in the paper, I was concerned that we would have unauthorized occupants to deal with. 

    I contacted his son and emergency contact, who said they were staying there temporarily to pack and move his father’s things and would turn in keys as scheduled. Because rent had been paid for the period, I agreed, and they did turn in keys as promised. If they hadn’t, we would have served a 24-hour Notice for an Unlawful Occupant – ORHA form #39 and proceeded to eviction court because they had no right of possession. (If you find yourself in this situation, don’t accept rent and take timely legal action or you could create a tenancy by waiver – read ORS 90.412.) 

    Another sticky wicket is when you show up to inspect, and find the locks have been changed, all the window blinds are drawn, you can’t see anything, and you can’t get in. A reasonable person might assert that you could take a chance and drill out a lock to gain entry, or would they? I don’t know, but see how quickly things get problematic from a legal standpoint? If you are risk-averse as I am, you might instead serve a Notice of Termination with Cause – ORHA form #38, for changing the locks without permission and evict if there’s no response. You could wait and see if rent gets paid, and evict for non-payment of rent. Sometimes, there’s just no risk-free option, but if you want to take your chances and take the property back without an eviction, be sure to consider the Reasonable Person Standard in your decision-making process and document every step you take along the way. 

    The reasonable person standard denotes a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who serves as a comparative standard for determining liability. So it’s essential to consider how a theoretically objective, rational, uninvolved person would view your reasoning and the objective evidence that led you to make that decision. More importantly, it’s essential to consider how a judge in court would view it. If you are trying to decide whether or not to take a property by legal abandonment, you should carefully review your actions in that light, and make sure you can back up your decisions with evidence or witness testimony in the event you are challenged. If you can’t be sure the property has been legally abandoned, and want to play it safe, then the FED process is the only way to be certain that you have the legal right to regain possession of your rental unit. It will be somewhat costly in time and money, but potentially far less costly than the alternative. 

    This column offers general suggestions only and is no substitute for professional legal counsel. Please consult an attorney for advice related to your specific situation. 
    Rev 6/2022

  • Thursday, July 07, 2022 1:36 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Violet Wilson, ORHA Education Committee Chair
    Date: 06/29/2022

    July Education Committee Report
    The committee continues to work on updating classes and providing Webinars, as well as in person classes. 

    Soon to come will be development of a course related to the soon to be released and updated Forms Manual. This class will review all the forms in the manual, when to use them, and how to properly fill them out. Topics will include:  screening, move-in, operating, violations, and terminations. The course will be offered multiple times so there will many opportunities to take the classes. 

    If you have any ideas for future classes, please contact me.

    Violet Wilson, ORHA Education Committee Chair
    Secretary@OregonRentalHousing.com

  • Monday, June 06, 2022 11:18 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 06/06/2022

    Astoria Palooza!
    We had a great time at last month’s Astoria Palooza! The North Coast Property Management Seminar was well attended and favorably reviewed. We had local attendees, but others came from around the state, including Eugene, Bend, Medford and Eastern Oregon. With instructors (Christian Bryant, Violet Wilson and I) donating teaching time, along with assistance from Ben Seamans at the office and Cloud Miller and Veda Bell helping with set-up and registration, the Clatsop County ROA reaped some good proceeds to help with their growth.

    After committee meetings on Friday, Cloud Miller, Ben Seamans, and I met with CCROA reps, Rick Newton, Nancy Boozer, Harry Grass, Royce Kenoyer, and Dillyn Sardiff to assist with ideas and ways to grow their association. After the mentoring session, a few of us climbed the Astoria Column for a gorgeous view before our delegates’ group dinner at Mo’s on the waterfront, where 17 of us gathered for dinner overlooking the Columbia. Then on Saturday night after the board meeting, several of us visited the historic Liberty Theatre for stand-up comedy. Work and play are a great combination.

    I’m excited to continue with longer meetings every May when we visit a ‘far-flung’ area of the state. It’s a great opportunity to support our smaller county associations by spending quality time with them and our other ORHA leaders. There’s strength in numbers; we all benefit by helping our smaller chapters grow. 

    New Deputy LD
    Congratulations to our new Deputy Legislative Director Ben Seamans, who was voted to the position at the May board meeting. Since Ben took over the office functions of our association, he has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to the group. His incredible work ethic, professionalism and tech knowledge have impressed us all and we look forward to seeing his impact in Salem. And certainly, Legislative Director Jason Miller will appreciate the assistance, especially as we head into next year’s long legislative session.

    Survey Results
    Survey Committee Chair Alex Wilkins knocked us out with his committee’s first survey results. Not only did he and his team ask the right questions, they also synthesized the data and presented it in a visually pleasing way! Check out the results in Alex’s Survey Committee Report in the newsletter.

    Moving Forward
    It’s been a tough slog re-creating our association to a virtual presence and relying only on independent contractors. I feel blessed to have the right people stepping up to help at just the right times, as well as the always-dedicated faithful like Dennis Chappa, Cloud Miller, and Violet Wilson who are always ready to pitch in. Longtime delegate Kathleen Ashley of Salem is picking up and forwarding our mail, which is a big help. And two newer delegates from Klamath Falls, Lance Leseuer (president) and Jason Brush (vice president) are also making a huge difference. Lance is an insurance agent/broker and is providing us with invaluable direction for our insurance needs. Jason is very involved with the Forms and Survey Committees, and both have volunteered to join the Finance Committee. Chuck Deseranno has stepped up his involvement with the Legislative committee to include Finance as well.

    A little less than a year ago I didn’t know how we would deal with the loss of our employee and our physical office. I’ve been gratified for the support and truly amazed at how far we’ve come in such a short time. Thanks everyone! I look forward to seeing our fantastic ORHA delegates again at the July Board meeting in Salem at the beautiful Oregon Gardens Resort.

  • Monday, June 06, 2022 11:12 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 06/06/2022

    Hello all, the office has been running very smoothly over the past month as we’ve been wrapping up from our Astoria meetings and are now preparing for our July meetings in Silverton! On Friday July 15, 2022, ORHA will be having their committee meetings – If you are a delegate and would like to join a committee meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the schedule and links (these were previously emailed out on 06/04/2022). Additionally, on Saturday July 16, 2022, ORHA will be having their July board meeting – If you are a delegate and would like to join the board meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the meeting link and required NDA. Lastly, if you have any items that you’d like to add to the July agenda – Please send them to Office@OregonRentalHousing.com no later than 06/14/2022.

    If you plan on attending the meetings, you will need to RSVP and book your hotel room no later than 06/14/2022. Reservation details were previously presented in the May board packet and were emailed out on 06/04/2022. If you have any questions, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com.

    Our office is periodically checking emails and voicemails Monday through Thursday should you have any questions or concerns; however, please be advised that ORHA will not be returning calls or emails regarding landlord helpline questions or tenant questions. If you are a current member looking to contact your local association or are new member looking to join a local association, please visit www.oregonrentalhousing.com/about.

    Thank you to Tia, Lance, and Rick for being regular contributors to the newsletter! To submit your ideas for an upcoming newsletter, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com by the 1st of the month.

    ** Reminder that the ORHA Monthly Membership Dues Form must be submitted by the 15th of each month **

    Benjamyn Seamans
    office@oregonrentalhousing.com | Voicemail: (541) 515-7723

  • Monday, June 06, 2022 10:50 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 06/06/2022

    As a rental owner, one of the most basic of considerations is whether to offer your property for rent on a fixed-term lease (FTL) or month-to month (MTM) basis, or even week-to-week (WTW). Many landlords have a strong preference one way or the other; others are open to letting the tenant decide. Whichever choice you make, there are benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of.

    The Month-to-Month Option
    A MTM agreement offers more flexibility for tenants and landlords alike. There is no defined minimum period that a tenant must fulfill, which can result in a shorter-term tenancy than you may prefer, the only tenant obligation being a 30-day notice to vacate.

    Certainly, the biggest drawback in the minds of rental owners is the potential for a vacancy at a “bad” time of year, like winter, when your vacancy may be more difficult to fill, or you may not be able to rent your property for quite as much. On the other hand, many long-term tenancies are MTM. Two of my own residents have been in place for a very long time on MTM agreements – one for more than 17 years.

    One of the main benefits of MTM agreements for the landlord, is the ability to serve a No-Cause Notice of Termination during the first year of occupancy. Use Notice of Termination Without Stated Cause – ORHA form #5. First year of occupancy includes all periods during which any of the tenants has resided in the dwelling unit for one year or less, so if a new tenant gets added to a tenancy of more than one year the occupancy is re-set and the landlord may terminate without cause for up to one year following the day that the new tenant signs on to the rental agreement. The tenancy re-set provision does not apply to temporary occupants, guests or caregivers, or children aging into adulthood. It also is not triggered by a tenant leaving the tenancy, only when a tenant is added.

    Notice to vacate from one party to the other may be served by either party at any time during a month and is not restricted to a full rental period as some owners and tenants believe; however, in the case of subsidized tenancies, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract may specify a longer notification period or require that a no-cause termination notice from the landlord expire at the end of the month or other rental period. Check your HAP Contract before terminating a subsidized renter as the housing agency’s contract supersedes yours.

    The ability to serve a no-cause notice can be useful when you are dealing with a variety of tenant issues. If things take a bad turn early on, you can terminate right away without having to wait for a fixed term to end. Examples range from tenants with difficult personalities, active addictions, or untreated mental illnesses, to ones that don’t keep the property in a sanitary condition.

    I once rented to a female applicant who presented well during the application and move-in process. She was neat, clean, well-dressed, educated, and had good credit and rental history. Only after she moved in did we discover that she was a raging alcoholic with mental health issues. When she was sober and on her meds, as she was during the application and move in process, she was great but when she drank, she turned into another person entirely. Shortly after moving in, she fell off the wagon and stopped taking her meds.

    She started banging on her neighbors’ doors, asking for beer, or wanting to visit, trying to force her way into their apartments, sometimes with lit cigarettes. When the neighbors objected, she got nasty and would yell, scream and curse at them. On two occasions, it got so bad that the other tenants called the police, and she was arrested, which escalated her inappropriate behavior. She began banging on their windows and walls as she walked by, dropping her dog’s feces on their door mats, and continuing to verbally assault anyone who was outside.

    Obviously, all these things are violations of the rental agreement and could have been addressed with a Notice of Termination with Cause – ORHA form #38 (30/14), but with that type of notice, it was possible she could have cured. I didn’t want to keep dealing with this situation or try to get the other residents to come to court to testify against her. Because she was on a MTM agreement, I was able to give her a no-cause notice, just to get her to go away. It was a tense month, but in the end, her family was able to get her into a treatment facility and she moved without incident.

    Often there are other less dramatic, but still irritating behaviors, such as lack of care of the property, failure to pay rent on time, parking on the lawn, unlawful subletting, disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of the neighbors, or any of several ways tenants can make a nuisance of themselves. Having the ability to serve a no-cause notice is a huge benefit. Another benefit of a MTM agreement is that the tenancy just continues indefinitely, and you don’t have to redo paperwork every year. 

    The Fixed-Term Option
    Leases are not so simple. In a FTL, the tenancy is just that: a fixed term. There is no minimum or maximum length of a fixed-term lease. Sometimes tenants feel more secure with a lease because they can be assured of retaining possession at the stated price for that time frame as long as they don’t breach the terms of the agreement. For landlords, a FTL provides at least some assurance that the tenants will stay for a longer period and allows the landlord to charge a lease break fee (not to exceed 1-1/2 times the monthly rent) or actual damages if the tenant leaves early for no cause. And while most tenants fulfill their lease terms, a lease can give you a false sense of security. Tenants break leases all the time and you still must do your best re-rent the property quickly to mitigate damages to the tenant and go after them for payment if the charges exceed the deposit, regardless of the time of year or the convenience to your schedule.

    There are also circumstances where tenants can break leases without penalty, such as deployment in the armed forces, or in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, or if the lease break is “for-cause” but in general, leases offer less flexibility to either party. You cannot change any of the terms or conditions without mutual agreement. If you make a mistake on the lease document, you are stuck with it until it expires or maybe for the entire tenancy depending on the mistake.

    The law does allow for a no-cause termination of a lease at its end, but only if the specified ending date for the fixed term falls within the first year of occupancy. Use Notice of Non-Renewal of Lease – ORHA form #5B. If you want the ability to terminate in this manner, be sure you are not creating a lease of more than a year or you take this very important tool out of your landlord toolbox.

    What is a year? It is 365 consecutive days, 366 consecutive days in a Leap Year, or 12 consecutive months. A year is not June 1st to June 1st (that’s a year and a day), it’s June 1st to May 31st. Many landlords leasing campus rentals used to start a lease say July 15th and have them expire on July 31st of the following year. Not okay anymore if you want to retain the right to terminate for no cause.

    Except for specific rental properties like on campus or rentals in cold climates, I often wonder why a landlord would choose the lease option? The response I most often hear is that they don’t want a vacancy in winter or want to be assured the tenant will stay for the specified time frame. What they don’t often consider is that in a lease, unless you are in the first year of the lease and have created a lease of one year or less, you can only terminate for cause. While we all desire great long-term renters, a landlord’s bigger problems usually result from renters with difficult personalities and other problematic behaviors that lead to conflict in the relationship.

    The only way to terminate a tenant on a lease early is a 30/14, which means one or more material violations of the rental agreement. Even then the notice is curable, but if the tenant commits an act which is the same or substantially the same within six months of the date of issue of the 30/14 you can serve a 10-day Repeat Violation Notice – ORHA form #7 for which no cure is allowed. The sticky wicket here is that if the tenant doesn’t move and the case proceeds to court you may be required to provide proof of the violation and the repeat violation to prevail, subject to the rules of evidence and/or credible witness testimony. Also, some judges are not excited to evict someone who, for example, doesn’t mow their lawn frequently enough.

    Another downside of a lease is, what if your plans change? I’ve gotten many calls from landlords whose life circumstances changed, and they needed to sell their property but were locked into a lease. Remember a lease supersedes a sale and may not be terminated early without agreement of the resident (except for cause). If that happens to you, you might consider offering cash for keys to end the lease early. We have a great new form Mutual Termination Agreement – Release of Claim – ORHA form #69 where you can put the terms in writing allowing both parties to enforce the agreement if the other does not comply.

    When I was starting out, I rented to a family on a one-year lease and learned shortly after lease-up that the mom was just a hostile, nasty person. This rental is next door to my home, and instead of calling to report an issue, she would just show up at my door hostile and angry as though I had somehow sabotaged the home just to irritate her. I started to wince every time I saw her coming, but they paid the rent on time and took okay care of the property, so I had no legal basis to end the tenancy until the lease expired. I was happy when they moved as it put me on edge never knowing when she was going to show up on my doorstep. If the rental agreement had been MTM, I could have terminated sooner. 

    Also, leases used to be a more secure option than they are now since the passage of SB 608 in 2019. Now, unless the landlord and tenant both agree to a new lease, or either party serves notice to terminate it, the lease converts to a MTM on expiration. That makes campus landlords unhappy, for sure, but there are ways to incentive a lease renewal. Using Notice of Lease Renewal – ORHA form #67 allows the landlord to encourage a lease renewal by offering a lower rent increase than if the agreement converts to MTM. Because it is a rent increase combined with an offer of renewal, it must be served in writing no less than 90 days in advance. And remember, rent may not be increased within the first year of tenancy.

    The timing of lease renewals can prove burdensome to track, requiring extra diligence on the landlord’s part. Tracking the lease expiration date, communicating with your tenants about it within the time allowed by law, negotiating the new terms, and having them sign a renewal takes time and effort, so be sure you’re up for that if you want to always keep an FTL in place.

    A lease does offer one means of tenancy termination that MTM agreements do not: non-renewal for Three Strikes. This part of statute came from SB 608 and is like the rules for manufactured housing or RV parks. It doesn’t allow the tenancy to be ended early, but ORS 90.427(7) states that a fixed-term tenancy does not become a month-to-month tenancy if the tenant commits at least three violations within the preceding 12-month period, and at the time of each violation the landlord serves a written warning notice with specifically cited statutory language, that the landlord may opt against continuing the tenancy. The termination period must be at least 90 days and may not expire prior to the end of the lease but may overlap the end of the lease if it is effectively served prior to the lease end date. The statute also requires that to terminate tenancy in this fashion, the landlord must specify the reason for the termination and supporting facts.


    The challenge with this type of termination is that if it goes to court there’s a lot more to prove. You must prove that each violation happened, that you served written notice stating the violation along with the required statutory language, that each notice was served upon discovery (not six months later), and that your final notice of Notice of Non-Renewal of Lease – ORHA form #5B is perfect in every way – perfectly prepared, perfectly served. There’s just more room for error, so proceed with caution. This type of termination is only allowed in an FTL, not MTM.

    Other Considerations with MTM & FTL
    If, for whatever reason, you terminate in the first year without cause, you are limited to the statutory rent cap for an increase in rent to the next tenant. You can raise rent to the market if the tenant terminates tenancy, or you terminate for cause, or one of the four qualifying landlord reasons.

    After the first year, both MTM and FTL tenancies may only be terminated for cause or under a 90-day notice for one of the four Qualifying Landlord Reasons – use Notice of Termination – Qualifying Landlord Reason – ORHA form #5A:
           1.     The landlord intends to demolish the unit or covert the unit to a different use other than residential use within a reasonable time.
           2.     The landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family needs to occupy the unit as their primary residence.
          3.     The landlord intends to renovate the unit and the unit is unsafe or unfit for occupancy (beware of admitting this in writing) or will be unsafe or unfit for occupancy during renovations.
           4.     The landlord is selling the unit to a buyer who intends in good faith to occupy the unit as their primary residence.

    There’s more to these types of terminations such as providing supporting facts, and payment of relocation expenses if you own more than four residential units in Oregon, and this type of notice still won’t allow you to terminate a lease before it expires. Review ORS 90.427.

    Another issue that frequently bedevils housing providers is the revolving door of roommates, or when one person wants out of an agreement, but one or more others want to stay. This can get especially complicated with a fixed-term lease. Our new rental agreements are much improved and now contain a provision that allows the landlord to terminate everyone in the household if one tenant gives notice to vacate. Under these new agreements, it is up to you whether to allow a tenant swap. If you have older agreements, toss them and buy new ones:  Month-to-Month Rental Agreement – ORHA form #2A, and Fixed-Term Rental Agreement – ORHS form #2B.

    The Week-to-Week Option
    And what about the week-to-week option? A week-to-week tenancy is defined as a tenancy that has all the following characteristics:

    a)     Occupancy is charged on a weekly basis and is payable no less frequently than every seven days.
    b)     There is a written rental agreement that defines the landlord’s and the tenant’s rights and responsibilities under this chapter. Use Week-to-Week Rental Agreement – ORHA form #2C.
    c)     You may not charge any fees or security deposits, although the landlord may require the payment of an applicant screening charge, as provided in ORS 90.295.
    d)     No cause termination of WTW tenancies can be accomplished with a 10-day written notice even after the first year – use Notice of Termination – Week-to-Week Tenancies – ORHA form #5D.
    e)     A 72-Hour Notice to Pay or Vacate for Nonpayment of Rent – Week-to-Week Tenancies – ORHA form #4B may be served as early as the 5th day of the rental period.
    f)      A Notice of Termination with Cause – Week-to-Week Tenancies – ORHA form #38A has a cure period of four days and a termination period of seven days.
    g)     Rent increases are not subject to the statutory rent cap as provided in ORS 90.323 and only require a minimum seven-day written notice. Use Notice of Rent Increase – Week-to-Week Tenancies – ORHA form #13A.

    It’s also interesting to note that WTW tenants were afforded almost no protections from the COVID-19 restrictions we’ve experienced over the last two years. In my opinion this is the best option if you want to rent rooms in your own home and maybe for short-term rentals. Just because you can’t charge any deposits does not mean the tenant is not liable for damage, so screen well, require renters’ insurance, and it can be a great option. While rent is payable weekly, remember that the tenant can submit pre-paid rent if they prefer to pay a certain amount ahead. 

    What About Vacation Occupancy and Short-Term Rentals?
    Vacation occupancy is defined in statute. ORS 90.100(51) “Vacation occupancy” means occupancy in a dwelling unit, not including transient occupancy in a hotel or motel, that has all of the following characteristics:

    a)     The occupant rents the unit for vacation purposes only, not as a principal residence
    b)     The occupant has a principal residence other than at the unit
    c)     The period of authorized occupancy does not exceed 45 days

    So, if you rent your unit through one of the vacation rentals sites, these are the parameters wherein you are excused from the requirements of landlord-tenant law. If you rent on a short-term basis, say to traveling nurses or other professionals, or under any other parameters other than those listed above, then landlord-tenant law does apply, so beware!

    The Takeaway
    It’s up to you under what terms you want to rent your property, so based on the benefits and drawbacks of each choice, do what’s in your best interest.

    This column offers general suggestions only and is no substitute for professional legal counsel. Please consult an attorney for advice related to your specific situation.

    Rev. 5/2022

  • Monday, May 09, 2022 11:06 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 05/05/2022

    Astoria Palooza!
    This year’s “far-flung” meeting location is in beautiful Astoria, Oregon, May 19th, 20th and 21st. We are shaking things up a bit and offering a days’ worth of great classes on Thursday the 19th. Christian Bryant, Violet Wilson, and myself are teaching classes all day to help raise awareness (and money) for the Clatsop County ROA.

    Remember, traveling for things like education is tax deductible as allowed by law, so we hope to see you there. Pre-registration is required, but if space allows, we may be able to accommodate extras. On Friday, we will be holding our committee meetings and, of course, Saturday is the board meeting. Check out Office Manager Ben Seaman’s office update for a full schedule and links to join in virtually if you can’t be there in person.

    2022 Forms Manual
    The 2022 Forms Manual is heading to the finish line! We will let you know when you can start placing orders. I have been asked if we will be producing a new law book this year, and the answer is no. The one bright spot during all the COVID-19 landlord restrictions was the inability of radical tenant advocates to enact many permanent changes to landlord-tenant law. The 2020 Law Book is still the most recent compilation and is still being sold; however, there are two inserts that should be included by the locals regarding changes to screening law and this year’s cooling bill. Links to both my article on screening, and Legislative Director Jason Miller’s outline of SB 1536 are available on the ORHA website. Please refer your members to the website for those references.

    Elections
    On another bright note, I’m hopeful that the extremism of the past few years may have nudged folks to vote differently. With high inflation, continuing reduction of housing stock due to short-sighted policies that have scared off rental housing investors, and lack of support for police highlighting the need for enhanced public safety, we may see a shift in Oregon politics come this November. How you vote is always crucial in our left-leaning state, but now more than ever. Rated as the most unpopular governor in the nation this year, Kate Brown is on her way out. Let’s hope we elect a new governor who has a balanced vision for our state. Your vote for senators is also crucial to creating balance in our legislature again. Please vote!!

    ORH Key PAC
    In other news, the ORH Key PAC continues to solicit donations to support legislative candidates. It may seem like we’re jumping the gun, but according to our lobbyist Shawn Miller, donations need to be handed out this summer, well ahead of the November election. Donations have increased recently, thank you for letting others know about this crucial part of our legislative efforts, and remember, local chapters, you can donate too!

  • Monday, May 09, 2022 10:58 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 05/05/2022

    Hello all, the office has been running very smoothly over the past month as we’ve been preparing for Astoria! On Thursday May 19, 2022, ORHA and the Clatsop County Rental Owners Association are hosting the in-person 2022 Property Management SeminarClick Here for the Flyer. On Friday May 20, 2022, ORHA will be having their committee meetings – If you are a delegate and would like to join a committee meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the schedule and links. Lastly, on Saturday May 21, 2022, ORHA will be having their May board meeting -- If you are a delegate and would like to join the board meeting, please email Office@OregonRentalHousing.com for the meeting link and required NDA.

    In effort to better secure and protect our association, ORHA will now be requiring that all delegates (who attend board meetings, virtually or in-person) sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) prior to attending the meeting. The NDA will be emailed out and must be signed before you may attend an ORHA board meeting. Put simply, the NDA is designed to establish and maintain a sense of confidentiality throughout the association.

    The local forms store has certainly been a work in progress, and we are excited to share our forms order tracker (printed orders only)! To view the progress of your printed forms order, please visit https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UozgyRTusj6AGV6-oDE9rwEBM6YgemSltSDIllaP8zY/edit?usp=sharing

    Our office is periodically checking emails and voicemails Monday through Thursday should you have any questions or concerns; however, please be advised that ORHA will not be returning calls or emails regarding landlord helpline questions or tenant questions. If you are a current member looking to contact your local association or are new member looking to join a local association, please visit www.oregonrentalhousing.com/about.

    Upcoming Vacation Reminder: I will be on vacation Wednesday 6/8/2022 and Thursday 6/9/2022 – During this time, I will be occasionally checking emails and responding on a need-be basis. A delay should be expected while I am away from my desk, I will be returning to office on Monday 6/13/2022.

    ** Reminder that the ORHA Monthly Membership Dues Form must be submitted by the 15th of each month **

    Benjamyn Seamans
    office@oregonrentalhousing.com | Voicemail: (541) 515-7723

  • Monday, May 09, 2022 10:50 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    Date: 04/03/2022

    Do you have problems? I do. My life isn’t perfect, and I suspect yours isn’t either. Illness, injury, death, divorce, job loss, these things touch everyone’s lives. We either muddle through or give up. No one escapes life unscathed. So, when you have challenges in your personal life, do you go to your tenants for say, a loan? Not likely. That would be inappropriate, right? And so it is in reverse.

    Many problems that arise between landlords and tenants come from a failure to set proper boundaries, and the burden for setting those boundaries falls mainly to the landlord. Some rental owners have trouble knowing how to do that, and end up too involved in their tenants’ lives. But inappropriate levels of assistance and involvement creates a dependency that actually prevents a healthy relationship with your tenants.

    Many of those who come to me for help with a bad situation with a tenant have been manipulated, lied to, and cheated out of time, life and money. But they have only themselves to blame. By giving in time and again to accommodate a tenant’s problems, the dynamic of the relationship changes from ‘Housing Provider and Customer’, to ‘Benefactor and Beholden One.’ This creates a power imbalance between landlord and tenant that starts with gratitude, but leads to resentment. And with some tenants the problems never end. It starts with the repeated offering and accepting of excuses and is often accompanied by charm and attempts to get friendly. Month after month it’s something else, some new story, some new problem. In the end, the landlord’s supportive, kind actions end up fostering in their tenant either a sense of entitlement or of inferiority, and the bad behavior escalates to intimidation, threats and abusive, uncaring actions to the property.

    What leads to such dysfunctional outcomes? Mostly, misplaced compassion and fear of confrontation. While the slur of ‘slumlord’ is often cast upon housing providers, the stereotype of the greedy, uncaring landlord is rare in my experience. Most often, I see people with big hearts giving marginal tenants chance after chance, until they finally realize they have failed to help the object of their charity in any meaningful way, and are left with a damaged home and financial losses running into the thousands of dollars.

    One of the strongest indicators of success in life is the ability to solve problems. When people intervene and solve other people’s problems for them, they stop the learning process. And while appropriate intervention, such as entering into a one-time late payment agreement or some other one-time accommodation can be helpful to solve a short-term problem, rental owners should beware of creating dependency in the relationship. People make choices, choices have consequences, painful outcomes lead to personal growth. Don’t be an impediment to someone else’s schooling in life management.

    Landlords are not tenants’ social workers, financial counselors, or friends (usually). They are business associates who are exchanging a commodity for reasonable compensation. Successful landlords keep the relationship professional and business-like. They aren’t afraid to initiate the tough conversations, and take action, but treat their customers with consideration and respect.  In a way, managing property requires acting like a sheriff, keeping the peace and telling other people what they can and cannot do, and in some ways how they can live their lives. People will not always be pleased with this intervention and will make their displeasure clear. That’s a tough thing and some people find they can’t bring themselves to endure it.

    How can a rental owner act compassionately within the landlord-tenant relationship while maintaining healthy boundaries? By being friendly but not familiar; sympathetic, but proactive. Remember that you are running a business, not a charity. I once evicted a client’s tenant for non-payment of rent. We had reached out to her on multiple occasions with no success and so went forward with the court process. Once it was complete, I finally heard from the tenant’s daughter, who angrily informed me that her grandfather had died and her mother had been away dealing with his arrangements, forgot about the rent, and how dare I evict her mother. I calmly told her that I was sorry for the loss of her grandfather, and that I didn’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but when my mother died I didn’t forget to pay my mortgage. I gently reminded her that we all have bad things happen to us and we all have to take care of our responsibilities anyway. She paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and quietly replied, “You’re right, I’m sorry.” We then went on to discuss ways her mom could redeem the situation.

    Really terrible tragedies will happen to residents: the death of a spouse, the loss of a job, a cancer diagnosis. These are all horrible events that can derail a formerly smooth tenancy and especially bring out the guilt in caring rental owners. Help if you wish in whatever way makes sense to you, but I recommend a one-time gift as opposed to say an ongoing rent reduction, as these types of concessions sometimes lead down a slippery slope to a tenant requesting more and more assistance.

    Sometimes you are able to offer relief or want to show appreciation to a long-term tenant. I managed a property where a tenant had been in place for 19 years. He was married when he moved into the home, but after many years got divorced and started absorbing the full cost of the rent. He subsequently lost his job, muddled through a couple of months, and finally hit a month where he couldn’t make it work. He had been a great loyal tenant for a very long time, and fortunately had compassionate, generous landlords who forgave a month’s rent. When I told him about their gift, he got tears in his eyes and was so grateful. He found another job and we moved him to a cheaper place. But he had earned that kind of assistance through many years of great history. Joyful exceptions that are rewards for good behavior are the best way to get the feel-good while rewarding positive histories and relationships.

    What creates healthy boundaries? Consideration, respect, reciprocity, honesty, and mutual accountability.  I violated the rule against renting to family or friends and had my niece and her daughter living in one of my rentals. But, I set clear boundaries in advance, establishing separate relationships: niece/auntie and landlord/tenant. I held her to the same standards and offered her the same responsiveness that I do to any tenant. She understood from the beginning that if she didn’t pay the rent, she would have to move out or be evicted. She knew I loved her to bits, but would not be manipulated into taking action contrary to my best interest. We didn’t have a problem, largely due to her being a stand-up person, but also from clear boundaries set in advance. You should be so lucky. In these situations, it is the exception not the rule that these things work out to be mutually beneficial.

    The point is that you need to set and defend clear boundaries in your relationships with your tenants, and when you choose to make exceptions, make sure that you are doing the choosing, and that the exception is made with intelligent forethought. Don’t let yourself be pressured, cajoled or manipulated into contradicting your best sense. There’s lots of great people out there who can be your renters, don’t settle for the bad ones. And if one sneaks in, take action to protect yourself sooner rather than later.

    This column offers general suggestions only and is no substitute for professional legal assistance. Consult an attorney for advice related to your specific situation.

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Email: office@OregonRentalHousing.com 

The Oregon Rental Housing Association (ORHA) is a non-profit educational landlord association -- ORHA Board Members, Mentors, Staff, and/or other related ORHA affiliates do not give legal advice. Please be advised that any information provided  is no substitute for professional legal counsel and any advice or guidance given does not constitute legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for legal advice related to your specific situation.

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