ORHA News

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 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.

  • Thursday, April 07, 2022 12:48 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

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

    With a flurry of COVID-19 law overlays implemented over the past two years we have thankfully been spared a deluge of new restrictions on housing providers. There were, however, a few law changes related to screening that came out of the 2021 long session, and a couple of important changes from the 2022 short session. I wrote an extensive article on those screening changes back in January, and this month check out Legislative Director Jason Miller’s write up on HB 1536 regarding new restrictions and requirements on portable cooling devices.

    The Forms Committee is launching a new form for housing providers to send to residents about this new law. If you want to restrict the ability of residents to install portable cooling devices, you MUST send a written notice. This isn’t something that residents need to sign for, but it must be sent, or you won’t be able to restrict your residents from installing a device in pretty much any way they want.

    You should also be aware of the passage of HB 2077 this past session, which changed and increased enforcement penalties for violations of abatement of lead-based paint. While property owners are not required to be licensed contractors, they have been required to be certified in lead-based paint abatement since 2010. This new law now holds property owners and property managers liable for knowingly contracting with a third party who is not certified under ORS 431A.355 to perform lead-based paint activities or renovation when certification was required. Go to:   https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/HealthyEnvironments/HealthyNeighborhoods/LeadPoisoning/Pages/rrp.aspx#require for more information. Training in safe lead-based paint abatement is available throughout the state.

    We’ve had a couple of changes in the Executive Committee over the past month. Violet Wilson was voted in at the March meeting to take over the position of ORHA Secretary (thanks, Violet!), and Dennis Chappa has agreed to serve as interim ORHA Treasurer until we can get board approval to make this change permanent (thanks, Dennis!).

    Our March meeting in Springfield was well-attended. A group of us hit the golf course restaurant for a good time eating, drinking, and socializing on Friday night after committee meetings. Our May meeting is scheduled for May 20th and 21st in beautiful Astoria, Oregon at the Bayfront Best Western Hotel. For reservation information and special pricing, see our announcement elsewhere in the newsletter.

    We are putting together a bigger event this year to include a special day of classes on Thursday, May 19th at the Astoria Elks Lodge. Delegate Christian Bryant (Portland Area ROA), Secretary Violet Wilson (Salem RHA), and I (Lane ROA) are donating our time to teach three 2-hour classes with proceeds benefiting the Clatsop County ROA. After class is over, we are staying for an hour to have a meet and greet with local legislators, members, and attendees with a no-host bar and finger foods. Check out the announcement and schedule of classes in the newsletter.

    As an association with fewer than 100 members, CCROA is part of the mentorship program with ORHA. We are hoping this special event will help them grow and thrive and create awareness in their community, and we look forward to doing similar events every May when we visit a “far-flung” association. Office Manager Ben Seamans and ORHA Technology Committee Chair Cloud Miller, will be working with their officers to provide one-on-one mentoring as well. Come early and join in if you want to take some reasonably priced classes (CE credits are available) and press the flesh!

    We are also setting up a Friday dinner fun-time after committee meetings (location TBA). It’s a great time to get away and have some relaxing fun amidst all the work. We’ll need to know if you plan to attend dinner so we can make appropriate reservations. Email Office Manager and ORHA VP, Ben Seamans, at office@oregonrentalhousing.com no later than Monday, May 2nd if you plan to attend the group dinner. Once we know the count, we will find an appropriate venue and let you know where and when to meet. Hope to see you there!

  • Thursday, April 07, 2022 12:37 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 4/7/2022

    Thank you to everyone that could make it to our March meeting in Creswell – A meeting announcement has been emailed out for our upcoming board meeting in May and hotel rooms need to be booked by 04/18/2022.

    The Clatsop County Rental Owners Association (CCROA) is working alongside ORHA’s Mentorship Program to present THREE in-person classes on Thursday May 19, 2022 from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm PDT. For more information, download our flyer here.

    Admission is $25.00 per person per class or $60.00 per person for a 3-class bundle. Price per person includes emailed (not-printed) course materials. Continuing Education Credits are available at an additional charge of $15.00 per class (2 - credit hours per class). See website for more details – NO REFUNDS. Registration deadline May 10, 2022 4:30 PDT

    Classes will be available for registration at https://oregonrentalhousing.com/events

    As a reminder from last month’s newsletter and other previous communication, the new forms codes have been issued to all the associations for members to receive member-only pricing on the ORHA Forms Store – if you have not already been notified of your associations new code, please reach out to their member helpline directly.

    ** 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

  • Thursday, April 07, 2022 12:23 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

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

    As a rental owner, most of the properties hubby and I purchased were vacant or were our primary residence before being turned into rentals. We did have instances however, when we purchased a property with a renter in place. For most private investors this will happen at some point, and certainly for property managers it happens all the time. Either way it can be a challenge. Most residents handle the transition to a new owner or manager well, others not so much. Most sellers have good renters, professional documentation, and a habitable unit, others not so much.

    Transition 101
    Just like other areas of life, courtesy and kindness go a long way to drawing people to your way of thinking. Transitions can be particularly difficult for some people and a pleasant, calm, helpful demeanor is always a good idea. I have occasionally had renters who struggled with the transition at first, but then settled down, so don’t assume that the first reaction you get will be how things go forever.

    One lady I encountered burst into tears when I showed up with transition paperwork. She thought she was being evicted and as she sobbed her heart out, it was all I could do to get her to hear me and let her know that wasn’t the case. Another tenant refused to accept the transition, refused to send us rent, and was evicted for non-payment despite my many attempts to get him to understand that we were his new managers.

    You can’t make the need for change go away, but in most cases your attitude will influence the response from your new renters, so be mindful of that and your chances of a successful transition will increase exponentially.

    I start by writing a nice letter introducing myself and letting the renters know the effective date of the change, where they should pay rent in the future, and how to make maintenance requests. For month-to-month tenancies (or tenancies with only a verbal rental agreement), I also include a new rental agreement and addenda for them to initial, sign and return.

    If the rental unit was built prior to 1978, it’s especially important that you provide the EPA booklet, “Protect Your Family from Lead in your Home.” If the renters won’t sign the Lead Based Paint Disclosure form, at least you provided the required information. I would also recommend emailing the link, so you have proof. The EPA takes this issue seriously and you could incur substantial fines for failing to provide the booklet.

    I add a paragraph that says something like, “Enclosed you will find a new rental agreement and assorted rental forms. Please contact me to let me know if you have any questions or would like to meet; otherwise, I would appreciate it if you would have all adult household members initial, sign and date the forms where indicated, and return them to me within 30 days.”

    I also say some other nice things like, “As a valued customer your satisfaction is important to me. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to improve your experience in your home, or if you have any questions or concerns about this change.” Yes, you may open yourself up to an avalanche of requests, but in my experience most reasonable folks don’t push it and you can always deny the unreasonable requests.

    Curing Waiver & Changing Terms
    I also want to address any issues of waiver that the prior owner may have created so in a month-to-month situation I include the following statement in the letter, “Please be advised that this letter shall also serve as your notice of change in terms. All the conditions, rules and regulations contained therein will take effect 33 days from the date of this letter regardless of whether or not you sign and return the documents.” (Review ORS 90.262 regarding the implementation of rule changes by housing providers.)

    This can be an effective way to reset a late fee type or amount, change your smoking policy, parking restrictions, or even require renter’s insurance (But, remember that if you are including this particular change you must include a statement as to when it is not legal to require: if the renters’ combined household income divided by household size is at or below 50% of the median for the county of residence, or if the dwelling unit of the tenant has been subsidized with public funds including federal or state tax credits, federal block grants authorized in the HOME Investment Partnerships Act under Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, as amended, or the Community Development Block Grant program authorized in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, project-based federal rent subsidy payments under 42 U.S.C. 1437f and tax-exempt bonds. Visit https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il.html#2020_query to determine the median income of your county.).

    There are many things you can’t change without the renter’s agreement. Those would be the due date for rent or maybe even a longer grace period if the prior owner had one. You also cannot implement any other “substantial modification” of the rules without the renter’s written consent. That might include things like assessing a utility fee or any other new requirement that requires the tenant to pay for something that they didn’t previously have to pay for like garbage service or take over a task like yard care that was previously included in the rental agreement.

    In my experience, 95% of renters want to be cooperative and will go ahead and sign your forms, but if they don’t at least you’ve got some parameters for the tenancy established.

    If I’m taking over a fixed-term lease, there’s nothing I can change until it expires, unless they are willing to sign a new agreement, but I still want to cure any waiver of the existing terms the prior landlord may have created, so I add a statement like, “This letter shall serve as your notice that all the terms and conditions of your current lease agreement are in full force and effect, regardless of whether or not your prior landlord enforced those rules.” I have been pleasantly surprised on many occasions though, when tenants in a lease will agree to sign new forms, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Certain types of waivers may not be cure-able such as a pet by waiver or even a tenant by waiver, so you are advised to proceed with caution and not just assume that you can do or change whatever you want. (Read ORS 90.412 for the legal rendition of waiver, and seek legal advice if you have any questions.)

    Property Condition
    If the former owner or manager failed to document the condition on move in, security deposit reconciliation becomes more problematic. I need to document the current condition so there’s some sort of baseline, so I include an invite to call me to set something up. If I don’t hear back in a week, I send a notice for a time during normal business hours that works for me. If they’re willing to meet in person, it can also be a good time to get forms signed and questions answered.

    When you do your initial inspection after taking over, even if you may be looking for lease violations as well as needed repairs, call it a maintenance inspection. Make sure they know you will need access to all closets, rooms, garage and even storage sheds. (If they deny access to any part of the home or grounds, remember that unreasonable denial of entry is a violation under ORS 90.322.)

    I start by asking them how things are with the property and run through a rough list of habitability items: Do your doors and windows open, close and lock properly? Does your heating/cooling system work properly? Hot water? How about the electrical system, any issues with lights, plugs or switches? Any leaks, drips or plumbing issues you are aware of? Do your appliances work properly? Have you tested your smoke & CO alarms recently?

    That usually puts people more at ease because the focus is on the unit and makes the walk-through less awkward for both. As you’re inspecting, document any lease violations you may see but hold off on addressing them at that moment. Long ago, I was doing a walk through with a prospective client and it was clear the tenant was smoking cigarettes in the unit and had an unauthorized cat. The owner confronted the tenant, the conversation got quite tense, and things could have really escalated. Just document what you see and let your legal notice do the talking for you.

    Illegal Provisions
    Illegal provisions in a rental agreement are another potential hassle that you may inherit from the previous owner/manager. Remember that a tenant cannot waive their rights under landlord-tenant law (even with their agreement), so if you have inherited a defective agreement, just don’t attempt to enforce those provisions. ORS 90.245 (2): “A provision prohibited by subsection (1) of this section included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. If a landlord deliberately uses a rental agreement containing provisions known by the landlord to be prohibited and attempts to enforce such provisions, the tenant may recover in addition to the actual damages of the tenant an amount up to three months’ periodic rent.”

    Some illegal provisions that have crossed my desk include usurious late fees; premature grace periods, such as three days instead of the minimum four; allowance for entry without 24 hours’ notice; and unreasonable restrictions such as, no overnight guests or no sleepovers for children. The renter has the right to use the home and property for any reasonable, legal uses and you may not unreasonably restrict their rights to do so.

    Habitability
    Habitability issues can rear their ugly head, so be careful regarding the condition of a property you purchase or take over for management. If there are substantial problems, I would decline to purchase or manage until or unless the tenants were removed so that I don’t inherit a legal claim for damages from the renter. Should you choose to take on that risk, deal promptly with all needed repairs, but especially habitability-related repairs such as lack of smoke or CO alarms, heat or hot water, doors and windows that don’t lock, rot or pest issues, safety and security, waterproofing & weatherproofing, electrical, plumbing and waste systems. Check out ORS 90.320 for a complete rendition of your obligations to provide habitable housing.

    Discrimination & Retaliation
    Encountering a challenging transition with a contentious renter makes most landlords want to just terminate tenancy, but that has been rendered significantly more challenging since the passage of Senate Bill 608. Proceed carefully. Remember that even a termination without cause in the first year of occupancy has the legal defenses of discrimination or retaliation.

    Discrimination means treating people who belong to a protected class differently than those who don’t in the buying selling or leasing of real estate and is outlined in federal law through the Fair Housing Act and in state law under ORS 90.390. Protected classes are: Federal – race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability; State – marital status, source of income, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Other localities in Oregon may have additional protected classes. Eugene, for example, adds protections based on – age, ethnicity, type of occupation and domestic partnership.

    Retaliation is defined in landlord-tenant law (ORS 90.385) as increasing rent, decreasing services, serving a notice of termination, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after the tenant has:

    • Complained to or expressed to the landlord in writing the intent to complain to a governmental agency charged with oversight for: building, health, or safety codes; mail delivery laws and regulations; or discrimination in rental housing.
    • Or, the tenant has: made a complaint to the landlord that is related to the tenancy; formed or joined a tenants' union; testified against the landlord in any judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding; successfully defended an FED (eviction) action brought by the landlord when the notice served by the landlord was defective or imperfect, or the timing of the notice was miscalculated; or indicative of their intent to assert or invoke the protection of any right secured to tenants under any federal, state or local law.

    Exceptions to the use of the retaliation defense by a tenant include:

    • Complaints by the tenant were unreasonable in their timing or manner
    • The violation of housing codes was caused by the tenant
    • The tenant has defaulted on rent (unless they deposit full rent into court)
    • Compliance with building codes requires the tenant to vacate

    So, maintain professional decorum with even the most cantankerous renter and terminate tenancy for cause if they violate the rental agreement. Some residents struggle with developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorder, mental illness, PTSD, health issues or family dysfunction. We don’t all get the perfect renters who communicate well, obey every rule, are fully functional, and have healthy conflict resolution skills. It’s up to you to deescalate or walk away. Deal with lease violations by serving notice, not by issuing threats or ultimatums, and if you can’t do that hire someone who can.

    Tenancy Termination
    Sometimes you not only have to handle the transition, but termination of tenancy as well. That comes with its own set of challenges as to the reason and proper service of notice, but also due to the renter’s reaction. Unless I was able to re-home a renter or they were ready to move out anyway, I never got a joyful reaction. Think about how much of a disruption it would be for you to move out of your home. Things may get hostile, or at the least the renter will be understandably upset. Be as compassionate and helpful as you can be and be prepared for some amount of anger or upset.

    Keep in mind too, that about half the time the renter may experience some delay and not be able to vacate on the termination date. Yes, you can proceed to evict, but that takes time too. I always factor extra time into my plans, and depending on the situation, am okay with extending the move out date within reason if they will put their notice in writing to me and pay rent for the extra time. Don’t accept payment of rent on an extension without notice from the tenant or you will create waiver on your notice in accordance with ORS 90.414.

    The Takeaway
    Take care with how you handle a transition with renters. Successful management is based on building relationships, and you set the tone at the first contact. Be kind but firm and you’re likely to have fewer hurdles to overcome as they get accustomed to a new way of doing things. Be prepared for some amount of obfuscation, anger or upset and always keep your cool – remember, it’s about the situation, not you personally.

    Address issues of paperwork right away and cure any waiver the former manager may have created. Get in and document the condition of the unit as soon as possible and take care of any habitability issues right away. If you’re purchasing or taking over management of an occupied rental property, you may want to require the seller to correct any deficiencies in the paperwork, terminate tenancies of questionably habitable units, or remove a problem resident ahead of you assuming legal liability.

    Buyers desperate for a deal and property managers hungry for clients sometimes don’t think these things through. They disregard performing their due diligence, resulting in unanticipated liabilities, legal bills, and intense stress. Sometimes a bargain is a bargain for a reason and is no bargain at all.

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

  • Thursday, April 07, 2022 12:19 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)
    By: Jason Miller, ORHA Legislative Director

    Date: 3/21/2022

    Housing providers experienced some welcome relief in the 2022 long session. Because of negotiations with legislators related to Senate Bill 891, we only had one bill become law, the tenant right to cooling bill. The bill takes effect immediately.

    In recent years Oregon has experienced some extremely high temperatures. Not everyone can tolerate the extreme heat, especial those of advanced age or with illnesses. Many individuals died due to extreme heat. Legislators worked with Housing Provider associations to address concerns they may have with allowing tenants to have portable cooling devices while addressing the need for cooling.

    Landlords must allow portable free standing air conditioners and window mounted air conditioners under the following conditions:

    • The installation cannot do damage to the property.
    • The installation cannot violate building codes.
    • The installation must comply with manufacturer’s written safety guidelines.
    • The unit does not draw more amperage than the building can accommodate.
    • The installation cannot block egress from the dwelling unit, this means it cannot be installed in the only egress window of a bedroom.
    • The installation cannot interfere with the ability to lock windows accessible from the outside (1st floor windows)
    • The installation cannot use brackets or hardware that would void the warranty of the window.
    • The installation cannot puncture the envelope of the building (no holes).
    • The device must have adequate drainage to avoid damage to the building.
    • The installation must be done in a way to prevent the device from falling.
    • The landlord has the option to require installation by landlord.
    • The installation is subject to inspection by landlord.
    • Air conditioners must be uninstalled by October 1st and not re-installed before April 30.
    • Restrictions on cooling devices must be in writing and delivered to tenants or the landlord cannot enforce the restrictions.
    • If you have to limit cooling devices in the building, you must prioritize tenants with disabilities that require cooling.
    • If you give a notice of termination for violation of cooling restrictions you must include that the date of termination is extended by one day for every day that the county of the residence is in an “extreme heat event” as defined by NOAA, you can find information about “extreme heat events” on the website for the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services.
    • Homeowners’ and condominium owners’ associations must follow these same guidelines.
    • The installation of portable cooling devices on historic buildings cannot require the removal of historic architectural features.

    Other parts of the law:

    New construction where permits are issued after April 1, 2024 must have one room that is not a bathroom serviced by a cooling system.

    A landlord is immune from liability for any claim for damages, injury or death caused by a portable cooling device installed by the tenant.

    To see the full law please visit: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2022R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB1536/Enrolled

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022 5:05 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    March 8, 2022

    New form online - We are ready to go with our new Mutual Termination Agreement. It is available online and locals may go ahead and purchase printed copies. With a limited ability to terminate tenancy and do what we wish with our property, this can be a great option in certain situations.

    I offered a free class on Pandemic Expirations as a follow up to last month’s article on the same topic. If you couldn’t make it, the link is available for viewing on our website.

    We’re upgrading our remote meeting attendance experience. The Executive Committee has approved the purchase of a video gadget called the Owl. As we’ve pivoted to online-only meetings twice a year, it has resulted in a savings of between $8-$10k per year, freeing up some funds for making virtual attendance more enjoyable for all with upgraded technology. With many delegates unable to attend each in-person meeting or choosing to attend those meetings remotely, we had struggled with the available technology. It was a distracting and unpleasant experience when the audio or video struggled to work and virtual attendees couldn’t hear or really see what was going on. This upgrade should allow for a better experience, and we’ll be trying it out at the March meeting in Lane County. Hope to (virtually) see you there! Please let Ben know if you want to attend – office@oregonrentalhousing.com.

    For those attending the March meeting in person and staying overnight we’ll be going out on Friday after Committee Meetings for (no host) dinner, drinks and socializing at 6 p.m. at the Front Nine Restaurant and Bar located up the street from the hotel at the Emerald Valley Golf Course - 83301 Dale Kuni Rd, Creswell. We work hard as volunteers and it’s always a pleasure to add some fun and socializing to the work we do. Hope you’ll join us!

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022 4:57 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    March 8, 2022

    Hello all, I hope that 2022 is off to a great start for every one of you! The office has been running very smoothly over the past month and I truly feel that ORHA is performing phenomenal! Our office is periodically checking emails and voicemails Monday through Thursday should you have any questions or concerns.

    Last month we received feedback that some of the local associations would like a link to our newsletter… and we made that happen! Thank you to Maria and Cloud, local associations can now visit our newsletter archives. Currently only February is viewable; however, our goal is to post them on the archives monthly. Additionally, we recommend that each of the local association encourage their locals to subscribe to our newsletter – this could also be a helpful resource for those that manage local helpline calls.

    ORHA has a new voicemail number (541) 515-7723 for local associations to reference. 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.

    As a reminder from last month’s newsletter and other previous communication, the new forms codes have been issued to all the associations for members to receive member-only pricing on the ORHA Forms Store – if you have not already been notified of your associations new code, please reach out to their member helpline directly.

    Lastly, there are still 7 seats available for our meeting this month in Creswell – if you’re interested in attending in person, please contact the office. Please note that the hotel discount rate has already expired if you’re planning to stay overnight; however, you may be able to reach out to the hotel directly to check their availability. We look forward to seeing you there!

    ** 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

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022 4:38 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    March 8, 2022

    I am often asked by rental owners how their tenant’s renter’s insurance can help them, or how it helps their residents. While there is some variation in policy coverage, two of the best reasons to require or encourage your residents to obtain it are: accidents and liability coverage.

    Accidents happen. I once had a tenant who accidentally started a kitchen fire. Thank goodness she was insured. The damage claim exceeded $70,000 for damage to the home and her belongings. Without renter’s insurance, my owner’s insurance would have kicked in, but the resident would have been potentially liable for the deductible and any premium increase associated with the accident, and her personal property would not have been covered. Also, the owner’s insurance company may have sought to subrogate the claim to her. Instead, the home was restored and her damaged belongings replaced.

    During a windstorm, a large tree fell on one of our resident’s homes. The owner’s insurance is covering the cost of repairing the damage to the home, but not damage to the resident’s belongings or car. Fortunately, the resident had insurance and was made financially whole.

    One of my dear friends lived in a rental that burned up while they were away on a trip. It was a tragic event and they lost their beloved family dog as well as irreplaceable family mementos, but her family could have lost much more if they did not have renter’s insurance. Their insurance company paid for their hotel and temporary housing while they located a new home, and gave them money to purchase replacement clothing and household goods. Without renter’s insurance their distress would have been compounded exponentially.

    A former client had their insurance attached by a claim from a neighbor. Their tenants’ dog had previously been considered friendly, but one day a neighbor girl who had interacted with the dog many times without incident, leaned down to pet the dog, and without warning it bit her in the face. She required extensive medical attention and plastic surgery. The residents had no renter’s insurance so the entire claim went against the owners’ insurance resulting in a huge premium increase. If the residents had renter’s insurance their policy would have been attached first, possibly eliminating any involvement of the owners’ insurance company. While the insurance company tried to subrogate to the tenants, they were very low income so there was nothing to go after.

    Another benefit to tenants is the theft coverage that comes with a renter’s insurance policy. My daughter’s renter’s insurance had lapsed for a short time after she moved into a new unit, when her $2000 laptop was stolen out of her boyfriend’s car. His auto insurance did not cover that, but her renter’s insurance would have. Thefts from the dwelling unit itself may also be covered.

    One of my tenants made a claim on her renter’s insurance policy when there was an electrical problem with the transformer serving the property that caused the power to surge dramatically, frying out her computer and the control panel for her washing machine. For some reason the utility company reimbursed me for the electrical repair to the home caused by their faulty transformer, but not my tenant’s damaged goods. She wasn’t interested in a legal battle with them and instead received reimbursement from her renter’s insurance policy.

    Kids throw baseballs through windows, people think their car is in reverse when it’s it drive and back into garage doors, tenants forget to lock doors and get robbed, previously friendly dogs bite people, candles set houses on fire – life is decidedly unpredictable, that’s why we should all be insured and why residents should be too. Many residents don’t know all the very good ways that renter’s insurance can benefit them, so I have created a one-page handout, Why Should I Get Renter’s Insurance? A Guide for Residents, that is available on my website (www.tiapoliti.com). Feel free to use it to educate your residents if you wish.

    Can I really require my tenants to get renter’s insurance?
    Yes, but there are exceptions. 

    What do I need to do to require Renter’s Insurance?
    Before entering a new tenancy, you must advise an applicant in writing of a requirement to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance and the amount of insurance required and provide a reasonable written summary of the exceptions to this requirement. The Application to Rent – ORHA form #S1 has the required disclosure language, but you need to check the box to indicate the requirement on the form. If the applicant meets the income threshold, you may require an applicant to provide documentation of renter’s liability insurance coverage before the tenancy begins. The amount of coverage may not exceed $100,000 per occurrence or the customary amount required by landlords for similar properties with similar rents in the same rental market, whichever is greater.

    For an existing month-to-month tenancy, you may amend a written rental agreement to require renter’s liability insurance after giving the tenant at least 30 days’ written notice of the requirement along with the disclosure stating the exceptions to your request. If the tenant does not obtain renter’s liability insurance within the 30-day period, you may terminate the tenancy for cause and the tenant has the opportunity to cure the cause or the tenancy terminates. Use Law Change Addendum – ORHA form #60 to implement the change with existing month-to-month tenancies. The form includes all the required language and allows you to update other law changes without requiring that the tenants sign a new agreement. If the tenant does not obtain renter’s insurance within the 30-day period, you may terminate the tenancy for cause, and the tenant has the opportunity to cure the cause by purchasing the required policy.

    For a fixed-term lease where it was not required it at the outset, you must wait to implement the requirement until the expiration of the lease; however, you can and should send the notice of change in terms before the lease expires so that you may lawfully require it upon expiration of the lease if the tenancy is to continue.

    You may require that a tenant obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance only if you obtain and maintain comparable liability insurance. You must provide evidence of your insurance upon request. The written rental agreement must include a description of the requirements and exceptions to the requirements of a landlord’s right to require renter’s insurance.

    What kind of coverage can I require? How will I know if the tenants maintain the policy? What can I do if they cancel the policy?
    The landlord may require that qualifying tenants maintain a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage and name the landlord as an interested party on the policy (some insurance companies call this a Certificate Holder) authorizing the insurer to notify the landlord of:

    • Cancellation or nonrenewal of the policy
    • Reduction of policy coverage
    • Removal of the landlord as an Interested Party

    With the proper language in your lease or addenda, failure to maintain the policy as required would become a lease violation and you could enforce the requirement by serving a Notice of Termination with Cause – ORHA form #38, requiring the tenant to cure the deficiency within the time allowed by law (14 days or longer depending on your method of service) or the tenancy would terminate within the time allowed by law (30 days or longer depending on your method of service).

    The statute specifies that neither a landlord nor a tenant shall make unreasonable demands that have the effect of harassing the other with regard to providing documentation of insurance coverage, so don’t badger the tenants about it, just serve a notice.

    Can I require tenants to use a specific insurer?
    No.

    When can’t I require renter’s insurance?
    A landlord may not require a tenant to obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance if the household income of the tenant is equal to or less than 50 percent of the area median income, adjusted for family size as measured up to a five-person family.

    Visit https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il/il2019/2019summary.odn to determine what the income threshold is for your county and household size.

    A landlord may not require a tenant to obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance if the dwelling unit of the tenant has been subsidized with public funds, including federal or state tax credits, federal block grants authorized in the HOME Investment Partnerships Act under Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, as amended, or the Community Development Block Grant program authorized in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, project-based federal rent subsidy payments under 42 U.S.C. 1437f and tax-exempt bonds, but not including tenant-based federal rent subsidy payments under the Housing Choice Voucher Program authorized by 42 U.S.C. 1437f or any other local, state or federal rental housing assistance, or a unit that is not subsidized even if the unit is on premises in which some dwelling units are subsidized.

    Even when you have a low-income resident whose income is below the threshold, or whose unit is exempt, however, there may be circumstances under which you can require them to carry renter’s insurance, such as an allowance for a pet or a pool. And even though owners may not require insurance in some cases, nothing says you can’t recommend it. Many times, when I explain to a tenant why they should have renter’s insurance, they choose to get it anyway to protect themselves. And it’s cheap - $7 to $20 per month on average added to an auto policy. Stand-alone policies may also be purchased.

    Requiring renter’s insurance when it would be illegal to do so may incur a penalty of the tenant’s actual damages or $250, whichever is greater.

    Can I make a claim against my tenant’s policy?
    In many cases, yes. The claim must be for damages or costs for which the tenant is legally liable and not for damages or costs that result from ordinary wear and tear, acts of God or the conduct of the landlord; the claim is greater than the security deposit of the tenant, if any; and the landlord provides a copy of the claim to the tenant contemporaneous with filing the claim with the insurer. One ROA member who just found out she could claim against the renter’s policy submitted a claim that was honored after the work had been done; another negotiated a settlement for damages with the tenant’s insurer. Just remember the one-year statute of limitations. Also, know that if you file a frivolous claim against the renter’s liability insurance of a tenant, the tenant may recover their actual damages plus $500.

    The Takeaway
    You can and should require renter’s insurance, but just like everything in landlord-tenant law, there are specific rules to follow. Know the rules and it’s easy-peasy, don’t and you’ll pay the price.

    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.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

© 2015-2022 Oregon Rental Housing Association - All Rights Reserved
PO Box 20862, Keizer, OR 97307
Email: office@OregonRentalHousing.com 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software