ORHA News

  • 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.

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022 4:11 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    March 8, 2022

    Deputy Legislative Director | Hire Date: June 1st, 2022

    Do you want to help fight for the rights of mom and pop rental owners throughout the state? Do you have experience in property management with a healthy knowledge of ORS 90? The Oregon Rental Housing Association is looking for a Deputy Legislative Director. 

    Job Description/Duties
    The ORHA Deputy Legislative Director works in coordination with the Legislative Director, convening (mostly virtually) with legislators and other landlord groups to find consensus on plans of action and negotiated changes to landlord-tenant law. Responsible for all written communications to the local chapters of ORHA throughout the state, including e-blasts and the ORHA newsletter. This position requires a wildly varying time commitment with the bulk of the work happening during the legislative sessions.
    Assists as needed with:

    • ORH Key-PAC committee
    • Reading and deciphering bills
    • Meeting with legislators
    • Meeting with other housing associations
    • Meeting with rental assistance organizations
    • Meeting with Lobbyist
    • Interviewing with press
    • Speaking engagements with other organizations 
    • Conducting legislative committee meetings
    • Serving on Housing choice board 
    • Advising ORHA executive committee
    • Teaching ORHA classes 
    • Reading legislative alerts and news articles related to housing daily.

    Professional Qualifications

    • A broad base of knowledge regarding landlord-tenant law, and rental housing policies and procedures
    • In-depth knowledge of legislative processes and procedures
    • Expertise in articulating information to the media
    • Excellent writing skills

    Personal Qualifications
    • A high level of emotional intelligence
    • A pleasing personality open to all people and political ideologies
    • Someone who can promise and deliver complete confidentiality
    • The ability to strategize and negotiate without burning bridges
    • A professional appearance
    • A life and lifestyle that will not bring the reputation of ORHA into disrepute

    Other Qualifications

    • Able to commit to a wildly varying time commitment (0-20 hours per week)
    • Occasional travel to Salem

    Compensation

    • Annual salary of $9,000.00

    To apply, please send your letter of interest and resume’ to:  office@oregonrentalhousing.com

    Applications must be received no later than April 30, 2022.

    Interviews with selected candidates will be scheduled the week of May 9, 2022.

    Final selection May 21, 2022.

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022 4:04 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans + Cloud Miller
    March 8, 2022

    Local associations with less than 100 paid members qualify to receive help under the ORHA Mentorship Program. The ORHA Mentorship Program is designed to assist with the scheduling and hosting of our thoughtfully curated educational webinars. If your association qualifies for the program, please feel free to view our list of available classes and reach out to office@oregonrentalhousing.com to schedule your class today!

    Not convinced yet? Check out what our participants have to say!

    “Starting a new Association can be daunting and even rebooting old membership for an established Association can be difficult. Not enough volunteers to do the work or not enough money to pay employees to do the emails, or update the Association website, or find places for training events or even getting get the word out about a class that you can do, have all been problems for a small association such as ours.  Especially during all of the Pandemic period.

    Thank goodness ORHA has been helping us!  The new ORHA mentorship program has been extremely helpful in getting our members valuable information about so many changing state laws.  We have been so successful with ORHA providing virtual monthly training to our members and allowing us to grow our membership with education. Of course, we make more money from outside members and non-members attending the classes ORHA provides, as they are available online to anyone, but providing education has really gotten our name out to Landlords that want to join our association for the discounts in Landlord forms, manuals, and education. 

    The ORHA mentorship program has provided Virtual Monthly Webinars and have advertised it across the state to all its members.  So far, we have had 12 classes with 187 Attendees in the last year!  That’s very significant for an association with only 54 paid members. This program has been outstanding for us and we can’t thank ORHA  and Violet Wilson, the ORHA Education Chair, enough for what they do for us.  If you have not taken advantage of this program, I urge you to contact ORHA immediately.”
    -Treasure Valley Rental Association (TVRA)

    “ROADC is extremely grateful for the Mentorship and all the work that Violet Wilson, our Education Committee Chair has done to put this together! ROADC currently has 83 paid members and taught 9 webinars with a total 168 attendees in 2021.”
    -Rental Owners Association of Douglas County (ROADC)



  • Tuesday, February 08, 2022 11:05 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Benjamyn Seamans, ORHA Office Manager
    February 8, 2022

    Hello all, February is off to a quick start and the ORHA office has been busy, busy, busy! With that being said, the office is finally catching up and getting back on track. Cheers to a great start in 2022 and I look forward to working with each and every one of you throughout this year.

    Following up from our January 2022 board meeting, the office has reached out to a handful of small local associations who qualify for our Mentorship Program to assist in scheduling and hosting educational webinars for their association. If your association qualifies for the program, please feel free to view our list of available classes and reach out to office@oregonrentalhousing.com to schedule your class today!

    As Tia mentioned in her Forms Committee Report, we have transitioned to a drop-ship company for our Local Forms Store Orders. Please continue to place your Local Forms Store Orders on Wild Apricot through your association log-in. Additionally, it is important to note that the ORHA office email is only being monitored Monday through Thursday – If an order is placed over the weekend (Friday through Sunday), it will be addressed the following business day. Patience from your association is much appreciated as we work through this new drop-ship process, if you experience any issues, please kindly reach out to both office@oregonrentalhousing.com and orhapres@gmail.com.

    The conference room and hotel room block have been scheduled for our March 18th and 19th meetings – delegates, stay tuned for an email from office@oregonrentalhousing.com in the next coming weeks with a link and instructions to book your hotel room.

    New Forms Discount Codes have been issued to all the associations for our ORHA Forms Store – if you have not already been notified of your associations new code, please reach out to their member helpline directly.

    Lastly, as mentioned at our January 2022 board meeting, the Oregon Rental Housing Association has updated their 2022 ORHA Membership Reporting Process as follows:

    1. Locals will complete the revised ORHA Monthly Membership Dues Form and will email a scanned copy of the report to office@oregonrentalhousing.com and orhabookkeeper@gmail.com
    2. ORHA Bookkeeper will Invoice your association or you may mail your check to ORHA Bookkeeper Lori Black at 1320 Hwy 99 N - Cottage Grove, OR  97424
    3. If invoiced, you can proceed with an electronic payment or a check deposited to US Bank and a receipt emailed to office@oregonrentalhousing.com and orhabookkeeper@gmail.com

    This process is posted on the updated ORHA Monthly Membership Dues Form and has been emailed out to all associations.

    Note: if your association has already sent in their January dues to the Keizer, OR P.O. Box, your association may start the new process for their February Dues in March 2022.

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

    Thank you all for everything, I appreciate this opportunity and am thrilled to be involved in this process.

    Benjamyn Seamans, ORHA Office Manager
    Office@oregonrentalhousing.com

  • Tuesday, February 08, 2022 10:25 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    February, 2022

    This month begins our short legislative session. After two solid years of constantly changing rules, we’re anticipating a bit of a breather this year which means we can focus on some very exciting races coming up in November that will impact how the 2023 long legislative session goes. We’ll be focusing on those crucial races after this short session, so stay tuned.

    We are very excited to announce that Vice President Ben Seamans has agreed to take on a big chunk of the work that it takes to run our now-virtual office. Ben, Technology Chair Cloud Miller, Violet Wilson, Kathleen Ashley and I (but mostly Cloud) had been taking on a lot of tasks that used to be performed by an employee when we had an office, and Ben agreed to step in and provide us the stability we need in this position. Having a younger, tech-savvy person involved has been a great blessing. Ben is working as an independent contractor in accordance with our Reimbursement Policy and we are very impressed at his professionalism and ability to take us into the future. Cloud has been training him diligently and it’s just great to have a central person coordinating our efforts, including creating our newsletter, sending out eblasts, responding to emails, directing correspondence to the correct person, tracking membership reports, and so much more.

    About membership reporting, check out our new procedures. Treasurer Jill Maricich, Ben and the rest of the Executive Committee have weighed in and created a new streamlined reporting, invoicing and payment system that should make life easier for everyone. Ben’s office update in this month’s publication includes a run-down of the new procedures.

    I am also pleased to let you know that we have hired a bookkeeper, Lori Black Consulting, in Cottage Grove, who has taken over many of the accounting activities of ORHA. With the loss of an employee to handle accounts payable and receivable, reconciliation, and record-keeping, it was too much for a volunteer and made sense to have a third set of eyes on everything we do to ensure accuracy and transparency. So far, so good. Under the direction of the Finance Committee (Jill Maricich and Dennis Chappa), Lori is diving right in and has been a great addition to the work we do.

    The Bylaws Committee met regularly for more than a year updating our bylaws and policies which were approved by the board at our January meeting. Thanks to Ben Seamans for his dedicated leadership on that project, and Cloud Miller for making the bylaws pretty. Among Cloud’s many talents, he is an excellent designer. Local chapters can expect a copy soon.

    ORHA has experienced some seismic transitions over the past seven months, but we’ve overcome every hurdle - what a great feeling. It is incredibly rewarding to work with an active group of high-caliber volunteers. Keep up the good work, everyone. What you do matters!

  • Tuesday, February 08, 2022 10:14 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA Forms Committee Chair
    February, 2022

    As I reported in last month’s President’s Message, we are transitioning to a drop-ship company, Moonlight BPO, to print and ship our legal forms. Like any transition, there have been bumps in the road! Thank you for your patience as we smooth out the bumpy parts. Also, we have discontinued offering our free application on the forms store due to some major changes in law related to resident screening. Some of our other forms have been slightly improved, others significantly improved, but some must be purged and not used anymore. The following table shows which forms have been changed, but are still useful, which forms should be purged, and which forms have stayed the same. This table will be updated and re-published as we continue with our major revisions.



    On that subject, we are nearing the end of this round of forms changes and will then be shifting our focus to creation and publication of our new Forms Manual 2022.

    Folks are also asking about a new Law Book. Our current version is 2020, and because of the pandemic, in 2021, we only had a few permanent changes to landlord-tenant law related to screening, so we are going to see what this short session brings. At this time, the plan is to continue selling 2020 Law Books, but provide a free insert to explain the permanent changes. If the short session creates significant law changes, we may reconsider, but at this time, the plan is to produce a new Law Book after the 2023 long session.

  • Tuesday, February 08, 2022 9:45 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    February, 2022

    Non-Tenant Guests

    February 28, 2022, marks the end of some of our pandemic-related restrictions. Remember under the mandates of SB 282, housing providers were required to allow a “non-tenant guest” to reside in the dwelling unit as a temporary occupant (TO) if they passed screening (except for income and credit) and signed a temporary occupant agreement. By statute, the agreement could not end prior to February 28, 2022. So, if you are in this situation and have an agreement that is expiring, you have some decisions to make.

    If the agreement has no end date, then you may only terminate the TO for a material violation of the rental agreement and the TO has no right to cure. If the agreement had an end date, then you may either terminate the TO’s occupancy rights as of the end date of the agreement, or you may extend it, or perhaps even offer an opportunity for the TO to pass the remainder of your screening criteria and be added to the rental agreement if you wish.

    If you do require the TO to vacate the premises at the end date of the agreement (or for a material violation of the rental agreement) and they refuse to vacate, ORS 90.275 allows you to serve a Notice of Termination with Cause – ORHA form #38, to the lawful tenant(s) requiring that they remove the now-unauthorized occupant within the minimum 14-day cure period or vacate the premises upon the expiration of the notice. If the tenant vacates, but the TO does not, the TO is considered a squatter and their right to occupy may be terminated using a 24-Hour Notice for an Unlawful Occupant – ORHA form #39.

    The provision in SB 282 that allowed you to accept rent from the TO without creating a tenancy will also sunset on February 28th, so if you have been accepting rent from them you must stop doing that or you could create a tenancy with the TO.

    Collecting on Emergency Period debt

    The end of February marks the end of the Protected Period (April 1, 2020 – February 28, 2022) for Emergency Period (April 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) debt. On or after March 1, 2022, you may pursue your current or former residents for this debt. If the debtor is a current resident, however, you may not pursue the debt (yet) if they have provided you with written documentation of application for rent assistance in accordance with SB 891.

    Documentation verifying the submission of an application for emergency rental assistance can be provided by any reasonable method, including by sending a copy or photograph of the documentation to you by electronic mail or text message.

    Residents who provide the required evidence are entitled to a Safe Harbor period through September 30, 2022, during which you may not take any action against them or serve any notices related to nonpayment. Nonpayment does not include payments owed by a tenant for damages to the premises.

    If the resident has not provided you with documentation, you might opt to serve a for-cause termination notice to force the issue, but through June 30, 2022, you must include the IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS TO PROTECTION FROM EVICTION (available on the website). Just like with current rent or debt, if the resident provides you with written evidence of application for rent assistance, they are entitled to the full benefit of the Safe Harbor period. The resident has until the first appearance in eviction court to provide you with that written evidence.

    Through June 30, 2022, the IMPORTANT NOTICE is required to be served with any termination notice for nonpayment of rent (which includes things like fees and utilities, but not damages to the rental unit). Just like with rent and moneys owing since July 2021, if the resident provides you with documentation of their application for rent assistance, they are protected from any eviction action for nonpayment (except for damage to the premises) until you are notified of application approval or denial or through September 30, 2022.

    If you receive notice that the tenant’s application has been approved, pop the champagne cork, you’ll get reimbursed! If you receive notice that the tenant’s application has been denied you may serve another notice to collect the debt without the obligation to include another IMPORTANT NOTICE.

    Landlord Guarantee Program

    You will also be able to seek compensation from the Landlord Guarantee Program administered by Home Forward but it will only cover the timeframe of the Safe Harbor period, not anything prior or later. I’ve talked to many folks on the helpline saying that their residents said they had applied, but that’s not enough. They must provide you with written evidence or you won’t be able to access the program for reimbursement. You may only be reimbursed beginning on the date the resident gave you the written documentation of the application for rent assistance (not the date they applied) through the earlier of:

    1. The date that you regain possession of the dwelling unit.
    2. The date that the court enters a judgment for possession of the dwelling unit.
    3. The date that you are notified that the application has been approved – in which case you will likely be fully reimbursed and won’t need to apply to the program.
    4. The date that you are notified of application denial.
    5. September 30, 2022.

    Housing providers may seek compensation not only for rent, but also for any eligible non-payment charges that accrued during the Safe Harbor period. Eligible non-payment charges include rent, late charges, utility or service charges, or any other fee as described in the rental agreement or allowed by or ORS 90.140, 90.302, 90.315, 90.392, 90.394, 90.560 to 90.584 or 90.630.

    Collecting from past residents

    You may recall that for residents whose tenancies terminated during the Protected Period (April 1, 2020 – February 28, 2022), the statute of limitations was tolled. That means you have through February 28, 2023, to initiate legal action to recover any nonpayment balance (and they have that right as well). It might not hurt to make one last effort to get them to sign a Promissory Note – ORHA form #50, and agree to reasonable payment arrangements, but you can also sue in Small Claims Court, or hire a collection agency to pursue the debt on your behalf. I’m often asked if it’s worth it and like most things, it depends. One benefit of getting a civil judgment of more than $3,000 (exclusive of costs) is that the judgment will create a lien on real property (land or buildings) owned by the defendant. It only applies in the county in which the judgment was rendered unless you file the lien in other counties in accordance with ORS 18.152.

    A colleague in another county had a small claims judgment against a former resident for around $8,000 and the resident inherited property. They hadn’t paid the property taxes for three years and the county was preparing to foreclose but found her lien. They contacted her and told her if she paid the back taxes, the property was hers. The home was a tear-down, but the land value well exceeded the debt. So yes, it can be very well worth it!

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

  • Wednesday, December 15, 2021 3:38 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Mark L. Busch, P.C. Attorney at Law
    December 15th, 2021

    In a special session, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 891 that extends nonpayment eviction protections for tenants. Tenants are now granted a “safe harbor” from nonpayment evictions as long as they have applied for rental assistance and provided proof to their landlord that they have applied.

    The safe harbor protection lasts until the tenant’s application is no longer pending (i.e., the rental assistance has been paid out or denied). This eliminates the current 60-day or 90-day postponement periods, and instead grants protection until as long as September 30, 2022 if a tenant’s application is still pending with a state or local rental assistance agency. Under SB 891, tenants can apply for rental assistance until June 30, 2022 to qualify for the safe harbor protection. (Note: Rental assistance agencies are supposed to notify both the landlord and tenant if the tenant’s application is no longer pending.)

    A companion bill (SB 5561) allocates $100 million in additional funds for rental assistance, as well as $10 million to a landlord guarantee fund. Landlords who have not been paid rental assistance can directly apply for rental compensation after certain dates have passed related to a particular tenancy for which the landlord has not been paid. The guarantee fund is administered online by Home Forward.

    Practically speaking, SB 891 means that landlords: (1) Cannot issue nonpayment notices if they know that a tenant has applied for rental assistance; (2) cannot file or continue to pursue a nonpayment eviction case in court if a tenant has applied for rental assistance; (3) must request that the court postpone any pending nonpayment eviction cases until the tenant’s rental assistance application is no longer pending; (4) continue using 10-day rent nonpayment forms until September 30, 2022; and, (5) UPDATE YOUR CURRENT 10-DAY FORMS since new language must be added to the form explaining these protections to tenants.

    If a nonpayment eviction court case is postponed, it must remain postponed until the tenant’s rental assistance application has been either approved and paid, or denied. Reinstated court cases will be reset for a new first appearance hearing and will then proceed as usual. Finally, it appears that tenants can reapply for additional rental assistance through June 30, 2022 for new amounts that become due, so be sure to consult with your attorney before proceeding with any new nonpayment notices if this situation arises.

    The Landlord Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice for any specific issue that might arise, since every situation is different. Always consult a knowledgeable landlord attorney with your specific legal issues.

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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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