ORHA News

  • Thursday, August 31, 2023 11:38 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    August, 2023

    Effective August 25th, 2023, Housing Providers with rental units inside the urban growth boundary of the City of Eugene are subject to new regulations. The updated code can be viewed at this link: https://coeapps.eugene-or.gov/cmoweblink/0/edoc/3651002/Ord.%2020694.pdf.

    The new regulations encompass changes to allowable security deposits, screening processes, rent increases and tenancy termination and provide for relocation payments of two months’ periodic rent if you terminate a tenancy without cause or for a Qualifying Landlord Reason. It also extends the notice period for no-cause terminations from 30 to 90 days

    Security Deposits
    Eugene Housing Providers may charge a security deposit equal to no more than two months’ rent, with two exceptions. One exception is for Housing Providers who choose to rent to an applicant they could have denied due to risk factors identified in ORS 90.304, allowing Housing Providers to increase the security deposit to three months’ rent. You may also charge an additional deposit for an agreed-upon modification of the terms and conditions of the agreement for a pet or other cause if the additional security deposit relates to the modification. If you charge this additional amount for the reasons cited above, you must give the tenant up to three months to pay the increased deposit.

    Take-Away: If you decide to take a chance on an unqualified applicant or if you agree to a material modification to their rental agreement, you may charge an additional security deposit equal to one months’ rent to address that change and/or mitigate your risk.

    ORS 90.304 states that a Housing Provider can deny an application based on:

    (a) Rental information, including:
    (A) Negative or insufficient reports from references or other sources.
    (B) An unacceptable or insufficient rental history, such as the lack of a reference from a prior landlord.
    (C) A prior action for possession under ORS 105.105 to 105.168 that resulted in a general judgment for the plaintiff or an action for possession that has not yet resulted in dismissal or general judgment.
    (D) Inability to verify information regarding a rental history.
    (b) Criminal records, including:
    (A) An unacceptable criminal history.
    (B) Inability to verify information regarding criminal history.
    (c) Financial information, including:
    (A) Insufficient income.
    (B) Negative information provided by a consumer credit reporting agency.(C) Inability to verify information regarding credit history.
    (d) Failure to meet other written screening or admission criteria.
    (e) The dwelling unit has already been rented.

    Remember that under SB 282, evictions or money owed to a prior Housing Provider from a tenancy that terminated during the COVID-19 Protected Period (April 1, 2020 – February 28, 2022) cannot be considered when evaluating an applicant until after January 2, 2028. (SB 291)

    Screening – First Come, First Served

    If you publicly advertise a rental unit in Eugene, your ad must specify the date and time you will begin accepting applications and the dates of your “open application period.” Open application period is defined as “The period of time during which a landlord will accept rental housing applications for a publicly advertised dwelling unit.” You get to decide what period that is – 48 hours, 72 hours, one week?

    You must also include information in the ad regarding an applicant’s right to request more time to ensure that they have “meaningful access” to compete for the dwelling unit. Meaningful access is defined as, “The ability of a person with limited English language proficiency to use or obtain language assistance services or resources to understand and communicate effectively, including but not limited to translation or interpretation services.” If a limited-English proficiency applicant requests additional time and if they submit their completed application within 24 hours of their request, the date and time of the request will serve as the date and time of receipt of the application for determining the order in which applications are received.

    Here’s one possible statement to consider including: “Applications will be accepted between September 2 - 5, 2023. If you are an applicant with limited English proficiency, you are entitled to submit a request for an additional 24 hours to provide you with more time to seek language assistance services for the purpose of complying with the Housing Provider’s screening and application requirements.”

    Under state law, if you assess an applicant screening charge, you are required to notify the applicant of their position in line, but not required to if you don’t charge screening fees. However, the Eugene Code requires that regardless of whether you assess a charge for screening, you must provide that information if the applicant requests it. Also, regardless of whether you assess an applicant screening charge, you must digitally or manually record the date and time of receipt of each application received during the open application period and while you may simultaneously screen multiple applications. You must accept, conditionally accept, or deny applications in the order of receipt.

    You are required to offer the unit to the first qualified applicant who applies in the order indicated above, and if that applicant does not accept the offer to rent within 48 hours of the time the offer is made, you may move on to the next applicant. If a prospective renter applies prior to the open application period, their application is considered received eight hours after the start of that open application period.

    What does it mean to accept an offer to rent? The ordinance does not say, but to my mind, accepting an offer to rent would mean either the Resident pays all funds due and takes possession of the dwelling unit if it’s move-in ready, or paying a deposit-to-hold and signing the Deposit-to-Hold Agreement if it’s not, thereby obligating themselves to rent at some point in the future. In any event, you must provide 48 hours for them to accept or decline your offer before moving on.

    You may refuse to process applications under the following conditions:

    1.     The application is materially incomplete.
    2.     The application has been submitted by an applicant who has violated a rental agreement with the Housing Provider three or more times during the 12-month period preceding the date of the application, and the Housing Provider can provide documentation of the violations.

    The following are exempt from the new rules about screening under the Eugene Rental Housing Code:

    1.     Affordable housing providers (Typically, agencies who provide HUD-financed housing such as Homes for Good, ShelterCare, or St. Vinnie’s).
    2.     A dwelling unit occupied by the Housing Provider as their principal residence.
    3.     A unit of middle housing when the Housing Provider’s principal residence is another unit of middle housing on the same lot or parcel.
    4.     An accessory dwelling unit located on the same lot or parcel as the Housing Provider’s principal residence.
    5.     A dwelling unit that will be shared with an existing tenant who has a separate rental agreement for the dwelling unit (i.e., renting individual rooms).
    6.      A dwelling unit not advertised to the general public.


    RELOCATION ASSISTANCE – CITY & STATE
    Eugene Code Relocation Assistance

    On or after August 25, 2023, you must provide a minimum of 90 days’ written notice to terminate tenancy for no cause or for lease non-renewal given in the first year. The termination notice must include information about the amount of relocation assistance for which the Resident is eligible with a description of their rights and obligations.

    Unless you are exempt, you must pay the Resident two month’s periodic rent if you terminate the tenancy for no cause in the first year, or for a Qualifying Landlord Reason at any time, and the relocation assistance must be paid within 45 days of delivery of the termination notice. If the Resident remains in the dwelling unit after the date of termination without the Housing Provider’s permission, the Resident must immediately repay the relocation assistance.

    A Resident who receives relocation assistance for a no-cause of Qualifying Landlord Reason termination of tenancy must, within 45 days of the date of receipt of the assistance, provide you with written notice of termination of the rental agreement and vacate the unit by or before that termination date or repay the relocation assistance.

    The City of Eugene is creating the forms and the City Manager is developing rules to implement these new requirements. We are asking for and hope to get clarity on whether the information needs to be in the body of the notice itself or can be attached to the notice of termination.

    State Relocation Assistance
    You may also be required to pay a relocation assistance under state law if you hold an ownership interest in more than four residential rental units in Oregon and are serving notice of termination for a Qualifying Landlord Reason. If you are required to pay the state assistance of one month’s rent, that assistance must be provided with the notice, but you can reduce the amount you pay required by the City Code by the amount of the state assistance you paid with your notice. This results in two separate payments delivered at different times, with a right to recover only one of these if the Resident does not vacate.

    Lease Renewal in the First Year
    In a fixed-term lease with a specified ending date that falls within the first year of occupancy, unless exempt as outlined below, you must follow this process: 

    1.     At least 90 days prior to the specified ending date of the fixed term, provide the Resident with a written statement informing them of their right to receive relocation assistance and the means for eligibility.
    2.     For the Resident to be eligible to receive relocation assistance, the Resident must, at least 60 days prior to the specified ending date of the fixed term provide you with written notice of their desire to renew the fixed term agreement.
    3.     Within 30 days of the written notice from the Resident, you must either:

    (1) Provide the Resident with written notice that you are declining to renew the lease and pay the Resident two month’s rent as a relocation assistance or;
    (2) Provide the Resident with written notice that you agree to renew the lease. There is no specified term stated for length of lease renewal, but the lease renewal terms may not be a “substantial change” from the existing terms.
    a. Substantial change means:  A change of terms from those included in a prior rental agreement between a Housing Provider and Resident that substantially disadvantages the Resident, and the Housing Provider does not provide for a commensurate decrease in rent. Examples of substantial changes to a rental agreement include but are not limited to: Resident responsibility for payment of utilities previously included in the monthly rent; Resident responsibility for payment for a parking spot previously included in the monthly rent; Housing Provider no longer allowing pets to occupy the dwelling unit; reduction of space available for Resident use; reduction of amenities available for Resident use; and removal of furnishings from furnished units.

    4.     A Resident who has received relocation assistance and either agrees to the Housing Provider’s conditions of renewal or remains in the dwelling unit after you decline to renew, must immediately repay the relocation assistance.

    Rent increases
    Unless a Housing Provider is exempt as outlined below, you are subject to payment of relocation assistance if you increase the Resident’s rent by the maximum allowable percentage in a specific year.  When raising rent, the 90-day notice must state the amount of the new rent, the dollar amount by which 

    the rent will increase, the percentage of the increase, and the date the increase will be effective. The notice must also specify the amount of relocation assistance for which the Resident is eligible and include a description of the Resident’s rights and obligations.

    A Resident who receives notice of rent increase for the maximum allowable amount may, within 30 days of the date of the notice, request in writing for the Housing Provider to pay relocation assistance. If the Resident fails to request it within that timeframe, they are not eligible for assistance, may not request payment, and the rent increase amount will stand. If the Resident requests relocation assistance within the 30-day period, the Housing Provider must pay the Resident the required assistance of two-month’s rent at least 45 days prior to the date of the rent increase.

    A Resident who receives relocation assistance for a maximum rent increase, must within 45 days of the date of receipt of the assistance, either: (1) provide you with written notice of termination of the rental agreement and vacate the unit; or (2) repay the relocation assistance and remain in the unit, subject to the increased rent.

    Take Away: If you don’t intend to raise rent to the maximum, you don’t have to provide the information on relocation assistance. To avoid that payment, stay below the rent cap.

    Please note that while under state law, properties built within the past 15 years are exempt from the rent cap, though properties subject to the Eugene Code are not exempt for that reason.

    Relocation assistance exemptions

    1.     Week-to-week tenancies.
    2.     Occupancy in the same dwelling unit where the Housing Provider has occupied the unit as their primary residence for at least six months prior to service of notice to terminate.
    3.     Residents that occupy one unit of middle housing where the Housing Provider’s primary residence is another unit of middle housing on the same lot or parcel and the Housing Provider has occupied the unit as their primary residence for at least six months prior to service of notice to terminate.
    4.     Residents that occupy an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and the Housing Provider’s primary residence is on the same lot or parcel and the Housing Provider has occupied the unit as their primary residence for at least six months prior to service of notice to terminate.
    5.     Housing Providers who temporarily rent out their primary residence during their absence of not more than three (3) years and the Housing Provider returns and reoccupies the unit as their primary residence within that time.
    6.     Housing Providers who temporarily rent out their primary residence due to deployment in the armed forces and the Housing Provider returns and reoccupies the unit as their primary residence.
    7.     Units of affordable housing.
    8.     A dwelling unit that is subject to and in compliance with the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.
    9.     A dwelling unit rendered immediately uninhabitable not due to the action or inaction of a Housing Provider or Resident.
    10.     A dwelling unit rented for less than six (6) months where the Housing Provider will be demolishing the unit and has provided the Resident with verification of submission of a demolition permit prior to the execution of the rental agreement.
    11.     A unit rented under a fixed-term lease where the Housing Provider’s intent is to sell or permanently convert the dwelling unit to a use other than as a dwelling unit and is a term of the executed rental agreement.
    12.     And one final exemption for units where the tenancy was initiated prior to August 25, 2023, but only for specific types of tenancies. Check out Section 7 of the ordinance to see if you qualify.

    Qualification exemption process

    1.     For exemptions claimed under 1, 5, 6, 7, 10 & 11 above, no later than the time of execution of the rental agreement, you must provide each Resident who is a party to the rental agreement with written notice that the tenancy is exempt from relocation assistance.
    2.     For exemptions claimed under 2, 3 & 4 above, where the Housing Provider is living in the dwelling unit or on the same lot or parcel of land at the time of execution of the rental agreement, no later than the time of execution of the rental agreement you must provide each Resident with written notice that the tenancy is exempt from relocation assistance.
    3.     For exemptions claimed under 2, 3 & 4, if you move into the dwelling unit or onto the lot or parcel during the term of the rental agreement, within 30 days of occupancy, you must provide each Resident with written notice that the tenancy will be exempt from relocation assistance once you have occupied the unit as your principal residence for at least six months. The notice requirement applies to you if you move into the unit or onto the lot or parcel on or after September 1, 2023.
    4.     For exemption 12, under Section 7 of the ordinance where the rental agreement was executed prior to August 25, 2023, under very limited types of tenancies, you must provide the written notification to the Resident within 30 days of August 25th.
    5.     Except for affordable housing providers, who are not required to file exemptions, within 30 days of the date you provide the Resident with the notice of exemption you must submit to the City a notice of relocation assistance exemption.

    Relocation Assistance Reporting
    Unless you are exempt from payment of relocation assistance, you must report your relocation assistance payment to the City within 60 days of paying the Resident. The City is currently working on a form for this.

    Termination of Tenancy Reporting to the City
    You must report all termination notices to the City that result in a termination of tenancy within 30 days of the notice, except for week-to-week tenancies. So, I think that means any notice from you to them where the Resident vacates the unit in response to the notice or by legal eviction, except when you terminate week-to-week tenancies. Your report to the City must include a copy of the termination notice served. The City has created an online form. If you are unable to access the form through the ERHC website, Housing Navigator Amy Cameron said to come in to the office during business hours and staff can assist. The code office is located at 99 W. 10th Avenue, Eugene, OR  97401 - 541-682-5383.

    A Resident who gives notice to vacate and moves out or otherwise abandons the unit when the Housing Provider has not served a termination notice is not a reportable event.

    The Code has also been expanded to include the changes listed above in the processing complaints and created a painful financial penalty for Housing Providers who fail to comply.

    Penalties
    A Housing Provider that violates the relocation assistance provisions for rent increases and terminations is liable to an individual eligible for relocation assistance in an amount equal to three months’ rent as well as actual damages, relocation assistance, and reasonable attorney assistance and costs. That means that any Resident (not just household of residents as a group) claiming to be aggrieved by a Housing Provider’s violation has an individual cause for action in any court of competent jurisdiction for damages and any other remedies as may be appropriate under law.

    Take Away: There’s a lot of steps to do just right and big-time monetary penalties if you don’t. Get professional advice so you don’t stumble…

    Forms
    The City is preparing to launch the following forms:

    1.     Tenant notice of rights and obligations for relocation assistance.
    2.     Landlord relocation assistance exemption reporting to the City.
    3.     Housing Provider termination/eviction reporting to the City.
    4.     Housing Provider relocation assistance payment reporting to the City.

    We are evaluating our forms to see what changes we may need to make and are working on a Landlord Exemption Notification form and a modification of form O3, Notice of Lease Renewal to provide the 90-day notice in a first-year lease with a specified ending date that falls within the year. Call the Helpline or an attorney for guidance in the meantime.


    The good news
    None of these restrictions apply to for-cause notices.

    I’ve been saying for years, we’re all going to have to get good at holding residents accountable for their misbehavior because the easy route of no-cause notices will likely continue to become more restrictive. That means no more lazy-landlording. You must inspect; you must act on breach of contract; you must avoid waiver; you must learn how to prepare and serve legal notices; and you must stop renting to people because you feel sorry for them or are trying to be nice. Remember, No good deed goes unpunished. This is a business, tighten up your standards people and remember: even with all the increasing regulatory load we’re experiencing, if you have a good property and good people in that property, rental property ownership is still one of the best ways to build financial stability and generational wealth over time. So, stop whining and start learning!

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

    Rev 8/2023

  • Wednesday, August 09, 2023 12:08 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    August 2023

    Delegates and committee chairs had a great time and accomplished much at our July meeting at the Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton. As usual, the food was great and the setting lovely. New board secretary Chuck DeSeranno and I met with Technology Chair Cloud Miller Sunday morning to get some one-on-one training and it was very helpful. We are looking to continue with this model and between Cloud, Ben and other leaders provide extra help to whoever needs it before we head home.

    At the July meeting, the board voted to stop meeting in January. We can always call a special meeting if something important comes up, but generally at that time of year there’s not a lot going on in our industry, but lots going on with year-end work on taxes and such, so it seemed like the one to remove! As usual, our November meeting will be virtual.

    Our next meeting is scheduled for September 15th and 16th at the Doubletree hotel in Bend. Friday, in addition to committee meetings, ORHA hosts the Annual Leadership Dinner beginning at 6 p.m. where chapter presidents, committee chairs and the Executive Committee meet, have a lovely meal (no host bar, but we do cover the food!), and share updates. Check out Office Manager Ben Seamans’ Office Report for details on registering and making your hotel reservation. Bend is one of our most fun meetings of the year.

    While we’re in the area, we’re excited to have Ben do some training with the team at Sunriver Computer Services. As he is taking over more responsibilities related to forms, the forms manual, and the law book, we could really cut our costs significantly. We’re always looking for better, more efficient ways to provide resources to our members and Ben’s technological skills are really helping in that effort.

    With the long legislative session over, we are scrambling to update our forms and educate our members on the impact of the law changes. Thankfully, except for HB 2001 which changed how we must deal with nonpayment, and SB 611 that changed how we can increase rent, the rest of the changes don’t take effect until January 1, 2024. Nice to have some breathing room.

    Have a great rest of your summer and I hope to see you delegates in Bend next month!

  • Monday, July 10, 2023 8:46 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Cloud Miller, Technology Committee Chair
    July 2023

    The ORHA Forms Store has some noticeable changes that you should be aware of:

    1. ORHA Support Tickets on the ORHA Forms Store website:


    ORHA has implemented a new trackable support ticket on the ORHA Forms Store so that customers can list problems experienced with purchasing forms and retrieving forms or you can submit changes you would like to see on the Forms Store. It’s located at the bottom of the webpage.  For more details, read the Office update by Benjamyn Seamans in this month’s newsletter.

    2. New Tenant Move-In Package:

    An easy and quick way to complete your new Rental Agreements.  It used to take me about an hour to complete a new Rental Agreement and all the addendums.  Now, I can complete an entire move-in package in about ten minutes.

    Just select a Rental Agreement of your choice, Month-to-Month, Fixed Term Lease, Week-to-Week. Then select all the addendums that pertain to your property. Once you select the appropriate forms, then complete the information on the rental agreement, and the information is copied to all the addendums for you. Some forms will need you to update particulars, like how short you would like the grass or the pet information, etc. Either way, the package walks you through each form and the selections that you need to complete. Once you complete the package, then you can purchase the entire package at one time. Try it and let us know what you think using the ORHA Support Ticket or by emailing us at Technology@OregonRentalHousing.com.

    3. ORHA Forms Store Forms, Price Changes Effective July 01, 2023:

    a. Applications – No change, same price $6.99 for non-members and $2.99 for members.|
    b. Rental Agreements – Fixed Term, Month-to-Month, and Week-to-Week are now $8.99 for non-members and $6.99 for members.
    c. Addendums and Notices – Now $7.99 for non-members and $3.99 for members.

  • Thursday, July 06, 2023 2:44 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    July 2023

    2023-2025 Executive Committee Officers, Advisors, and Committee Chairs
    This month marks our officer transition. At our March board meeting, ORHA officers were voted in for a two-year term beginning this month. I will continue for one more two-year term as President, Cloud Miller will serve as Vice President, Lance Lesueur as Treasurer, and Chuck DeSeranno as board Secretary. Legislative Director Jason Miller is filling the role of Past President, and both Dennis Chappa and Violet Wilson have agreed to stay on the committee as advisors; their extensive history with ORHA is invaluable. Maria Menguita will serve as an advisor on an as-needed basis; her marketing and social media expertise is helpful during our planning meetings.

    Thanks so much to Dennis and Violet for stepping up to fill in as Treasurer and Secretary when the elected officers were unable to fulfill their terms. And a special shout out to Vice President Ben Seamans, who is closing out almost two terms as Vice President (VP). When President Jason Miller had to step back in 2018 and his VP Sage Coleman had to pick up the leadership role, Ben stepped in to be Sage’s VP. After Sage was elected to continue to serve as President for the 2019-2021 term, he went through some personal turmoil in his life, and Ben stepped up and led our group for at least six months in admirable fashion. He has been a great support to me over these past two years. Thank you so much Ben for all you’ve done to keep us moving forward despite the many challenges we’ve faced.

    Thank you to Jill Maricich who served two terms on the Executive Committee, first as Treasurer, then as an area representative. Due to a change last year that created four regions out of formerly five, all areas of the state are fully represented for the 2023-2025 term, and we don’t need area reps to fill in. Sometimes a particular region of Oregon will be overrepresented in the EC and one or more regions underrepresented. When that happens, each unrepresented region puts forth a candidate to serve as a voting member of the EC to ensure that all areas of our state have an equal voice in how our association is run.

    Some committee chairs are remaining in their positions and others are being handed off to new leadership.

    • Education/Mentoring Committee – Violet Wilson, will continue as Committee Chair.
    • Finance Committee – Former Treasurer, Dennis Chappa, will lead the Finance Committee.
    • Forms Committee – I will continue to serve as Forms Committee Chair.
    • Legislative Committee – Legislative Director Jason Miller with the assistance of Deputy Legislative Director Ben Seamans, will continue to lead this committee as well as our Rapid Response subcommittee.
    • Long-Range Planning Committee – This committee has been on hiatus as we dealt with and continue to deal with creating a stable foundation for ORHA. See my State of the Association report later in this newsletter for updates on our progress. We hope to soon start looking ahead instead of constantly putting out fires.
    • Membership/Dues Committee – Jason Miller has agreed to continue to lead this committee.
    • Newsletter Committee – We don’t really have a committee anymore as Office Manager, Ben Seamans, has taken over. So, he’s our unofficial Chair!
    • Survey Committee – Alex Wilkens took the reins of what was a nonfunctioning committee and under his leadership, the team completed three quarterly surveys of our members. Alex will continue to serve on the committee but is handing over the leadership role to Jason Brush.
    • Technology Committee – Cloud Miller continues to give his life to leading ORHA to new heights in our ability to provide a top-quality forms store and utilize technology to help our leadership team, our delegates, our county chapters, and our members.
    • Website/Social Media Committee – I am grateful that Maria Menguita will continue to lead this committee. Her expertise in this arena is a perfect fit to help ORHA continue its social media outreach.

    Oregon Gardens in July
    I hope to see all our ORHA delegates at our July meeting at the beautiful Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton, July 14-16. We had the best time last year at their venue. The food Is fantastic (best hotel breakfast ever), and I don’t know what “triple sheeting” is, but the beds were the best! A few of us took time to tour the Oregon Gardens and what a special place it is.

    This month our Friday no-host Delegates Dinner will be held at People’s Taphouse Pizza, 100 S Water St, Silverton, beginning at 5:00 p.m. July 14th. Please let me know if you’ll be coming with as much notice as you can, and if you don’t, show up anyway! We’d love to eat, drink, and make merry with you. Relationship building is important stuff

    We will also be hosting a training session Sunday morning for those who can stay over Saturday night or log on virtually to participate. Ben and Cloud will be training us on using Microsoft Teams to put on webinars or create videos. Because we only meet in person four times a year, we feel it is important to use the time to its fullest where we can connect, train, and move ORHA and our local chapters forward to new heights.

  • Thursday, July 06, 2023 2:29 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    July 2023

    How far we’ve come
    Hard to believe that two years ago, without warning, we lost our office manager. She just stopped showing up to work and stopped communicating. Tough way to start my term. At the July 2021 meeting, the Executive Committee was given emergency powers until the September meeting to take care of business.

    Once we realized she wasn’t coming back, I called an emergency meeting at the end of July to terminate her employment. I wasn’t sure I’d even get a quorum for a last-minute meeting call on a Saturday. To my surprise, almost every chapter had a delegate show up to vote. And that’s been the way it’s gone ever since. Every decision, every pivot we were forced to make, I had incredible support from our officers and delegates.

    We had to forcibly take over our bank account authorizations, change our Secretary of State information, find account numbers and passwords, pay bills, set up board meeting venues and menus, get back in control of our email accounts and Quickbooks, it was a mess. With no employee, the board decided we could operate with independent contractors and close our physical office. Cloud Miller and his dad, Ray, drove out from Ontario to Keizer to help. Dennis Chappa, and Jill Maricich also came to help pack up and clean out the office. Change came fast and furious after that.

    Cloud was able to break into the office computer and start closing our accounts, getting the info we needed. He stepped up mightily and took over most of the basic office functions serving our chapters. Then in January 2021, Ben Seamans stepped in to take over many of the office functions. Cloud spent many hours training Ben so he could get back to focusing on ORHA’s technology needs.

    I boxed and hauled the paper forms back to my office and began ordering and shipping forms to the chapters for several months until we signed on with a drop-ship printer to handle that part of the business. That had its own set of issues with quality, timeliness of shipping, accuracy of orders, ugh. We stuck with it and eventually got things dialed in but resulted in frustration for our chapters and their members.

    Kathleen Ashley of Salem RHA stepped up to check our mailbox in Keizer and forward info to the office and accounting staff and make bank deposits.

    We hired a bookkeeper, Lori Black, to handle our finances, and under the leadership of Dennis Chappa, created a functioning Finance Committee that is not chaired by the Treasurer to avoid any appearance of shenanigans. Ben Seamans created a reimbursement form and set up a multi-person expense reimbursement approval process. The office no longer pays directly for reimbursements but requires everyone to pay for reimbursable expenses themselves, then submit a request for reimbursement through a system that requires multiple approvals.

    With COVID forcing us for the most part to online meetings, the Executive Committee decided we should meet virtually for our November and January meetings to save money and avoid travel during the fall and winter months for safety reasons. We now only meet in-person four times a year.

    With no office rent, no landline phone, no internet, no UPS pickups, or drop-offs to pay for, no employment taxes or reports to file, and reducing in-person meetings to four times per year, our financial position has gradually stabilized and for the first time in a while, we have sufficient reserves.

    Board Meetings
    There is a lot involved in setting up our in-person meetings as I discovered when I had to take the reins for our September 2021 meeting that included the Leadership Dinner. Last year, we were too late to meet where we normally do, which created some hassles reserving another venue. Now, we have settled on two recurring venues for our July and September meetings, so the planning part is reduced.

    Unless something dramatic happens, we will always hold our July meeting at the Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton and our September meeting at the Doubletree in Bend, which is where we host the Leadership Dinner Friday evening before the Board Meeting. This is a chance for officers, presidents, and committee chairs to socialize, have a nice meal and hear updates from the office and the committees. We are heading to southern Oregon each March, and May will continue to be our Far-Flung month where we visit a smaller chapter and hold our Property Management Palooza. We have completed two successful seminars and look forward to more.

    November and January we meet online using Teams, and every delegate has the option to participate in any board meeting virtually.

    Our meeting agenda is planned by the Executive Committee based on the usual committee reports but including special projects such as the reformulation of our regions, forms store issues, or the needs of specific committees to carve out more time occasionally. We’re stricter about staying on track, if you haven’t submitted an agenda item in advance, it may get tabled if we run out of time. All our meetings are now recorded through Microsoft Teams.

    Education/Mentoring
    Chair Violet Wilson continues to add classes to ORHA’s portfolio of educational offerings and has done a fantastic job of teaching for the chapters who qualify for mentoring services. Last year we lost one of our chapters, Mid-Columbia, after the President, John Frederick died. Nathan Haworth tried valiantly to keep the chapter going but became overwhelmed with his own business plus taking over John’s and couldn’t do it alone. In late May, we heard from the folks at John L. Scott, Todd Fiebig and Tanya Dean, who wanted to see the chapter come back and agreed to provide leadership. We’ve met a few times and are excited to announce that the chapter is back on board!

    Ben Seamans has resigned as secretary for the committee and Joanne Williams with ROADC has volunteered to take over the position – Thank you, Joanne!

    Forms Development
    The Forms Committee developed new forms, updated existing forms and during that time produced our new 2022-2023 ORHA Forms Manual.

    Insurance
    Lance Lesueur reviewed our insurance policies and with his guidance we are properly insured. We were over- and under-insured in some areas. What a great asset he has been to help us understand the inner workings of insurance and make recommendations that are cost effective and protective of our association.

    Membership Reporting
    We’ve asked the chapters to pivot to a new electronic membership reporting process and send their membership dues directly to the bookkeeper eliminating the need for mailing paper forms. With the new process Ben created, it takes an average of 8-10 minutes. This year we started enforcing the deadlines in our bylaws, including the charging of late fees if reports are not filed in a timely manner. With these changes, we’ve seen phenomenal results and we no longer have any associations with delinquencies.

    Newsletters
    Beginning in September of 2021, we brought Social Media Chair Maria Menguita back on board to start producing newsletters again. Then when Ben stepped up to work as our contracted office manager, he was able to take over that function along with many others. We’re back to 11 newsletters per year except for December.

    Other Office Functions
    Even without an office, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Scheduling meetings, addressing chapter needs, preparing agendas, addressing issues with forms, correspondence, interfacing with vendors, calculating revenue sharing, routing invoices, and responding to ORHA member support tickets.

    Ben has done a fantastic job of putting together our agenda and meeting packets, setting up training for individual chapters, responding to inquiries, and keeping track of everything. For years, Cloud had tried to work with staff to bring ORHA into the new technological age. With Ben on board, the two of them have taken us to new heights. Everything we do has been made more efficient and cost-effective. Every new process, every new procedure, provides increased efficiency and the stable foundation we need to move forward in a positive way.

    Cloud and Ben convinced the board we should switch from Google to Microsoft Teams for our emails, meetings, videos, webinars, and so much more. They created dedicated emails for each officer and committee chair as well as group committee emails and they continue to update those as positions change.

    Each officer, committee and chapter now have their own email address, and the local associations have access to Teams included with membership. This allows for full use of the platform for meetings, videos, and webinars. Training is happening on a regular basis, and we have new training ideas in the works. Our plan is to add a Sunday morning training event at each in-person board meeting to help our chapters maximize the use of technology. We will offer this and other important training for about an hour on Sunday mornings before we head home. For those who can’t stay, virtual participation will always be an option.

    Revenue Sharing
    We were finally able to distribute profit sharing funds from the ORHA Forms Store and anticipate regular revenue sharing moving forward.

    Where do we go from here? In addition to continuing our efforts in education/mentoring, lobbying and legislative work, adding or updating forms as needed in response to new legislation, and quarterly member surveys, we plan to offer:

    1. Continued improvements to efficiencies across the association.
    2. Forms packages on the Forms Store that will allow users to enter tenant information once for the rental agreement and auto-populate the addenda you choose.
    3. New 2024 Law Book.
    4. New 2024-2025 Forms Manual.
    5. Providing both manuals in electronic formats.
    6. Chapter training in Teams.
    7. Finish second round of bylaws updates.

    Back in July of 2021, I was shocked and stressed about the changes, wondering how we could survive much less thrive, but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened. Problems became opportunities and opportunities brought positive change.

    Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." Here’s to continuing to work together to help the rental owners in Oregon keep up with legislative and regulatory changes, use proper legal forms, develop relationships, and advocate for removing barriers to rental housing ownership and management. With your support, I look forward to what the next two years will bring.
  • Thursday, July 06, 2023 2:12 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Jason Miller, ORHA Legislative Director
    July 2023

    The 2023 Oregon legislative session started with some proposed bills that housing providers found very concerning. Right off the bat our legislative teams were negotiating against a proposal to bring back COVID-era protections and extend the timeline on evictions for non-payment to almost 3 months or more. We managed to remove some of the more extreme elements of the bill resulting in the passage of HB 2001. While not ideal it was much better than what was proposed.  Landlords may no longer serve a 72- or 144-hour notice for nonpayment; tenants are now entitled to 10- or 13-day notice for nonpayment and must be served a special form that provides information on rent assistance.

    Another change allows the tenant to cure the notice up to the date of trial if the case goes to eviction court. First appearance eviction hearings for nonpayment now are set out between 15-30 days and if the Tenant requests a trial, the trial will be set out 15-30 days. This is all designed to give Tenants the chance to apply for and receive rent assistance

    Landlords must attest a tenant still resides at the residence to get a default judgment when a tenant does not show up to court. This measure took effect upon the Governor’s signature March 29, 2023 and is current law. For more information on HB 2001 go to https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/HB2001.

    Shortly after that the Senate Republicans in protest refused quorum in the longest walk out in Oregon history. This put a halt to passing bills until days before the end of session when some Republican Senators returned to the floor.

    As expected, HB 2468B & SB 599A, the childcare bills, passed the House and Senate and HB 2468A are awaiting the Governor’s signature while SB 599A has been signed and is now law.  These bills require landlords to allow, with conditions, state registered Child Care Homes in rental properties. For more on HB 2468B go to https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/HB2468.

    For More on SB 599A go to https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/SB599.

    The most talked about bill this session was SB 611, the original version of this bill would have greatly reduced the max rent increase limit and reduced the exemption period for new construction. With a lot of negotiation and several revisions the final bill limits rent increases to no more than once per year and reduces the allowable increase to either 7% plus the CPI for the West Coast, or 10%, whichever is less. The exemption for new construction remains at 15 years. For more information on SB 611 go to https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/SB611.

    We had a few other bills pass that effect Oregon Housing Providers; those are:

    Thank you to everyone who testified, submitted testimony, and contacted their legislators. Your involvement is key to stopping and negotiating legislation that would hurt our industry.
  • Wednesday, June 07, 2023 10:48 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    June, 2023

    The second annual Property Management Palooza seminar in May was a great success. This year we were able to offer in-person and virtual options with the technological expertise of ORHA Technology Director, Cloud Miller, and ORHA Office Manager, Ben Seamans. Virtual attendees were able to participate and ask questions with Ben Seamans moderating. A lot of work to plan, advertise, set up and clean up, but we had so many volunteers!

    THANK YOU to Joanne Williams, Treasurer for the Rental Owners Association of Douglas County (ROADC) (and soon to be ROADC president), who owns Centerpointe Property Management in Roseburg. She graciously allowed us to use her conference room for our committee meetings the day before and sold forms and books to attendees all day.

    THANK YOU to Chuck DeSerrano, board member of the Salem Rental Housing Association, and Minh Tang and Phillip Wassom, board members of ROADC who helped set up, tear down and pitched in wherever they were needed throughout the day.

    THANK YOU to Veda Bell, Treasurer for the Treasure Valley Rental Association who worked the registration table throughout the day, and pitched in wherever she was needed.

    THANK YOU to Rusty Allen and Leni Roper of ROADC who kept the in-person crowd well-refreshed with tempting treats.

    THANK YOU to Maria Menguita who helped promote our event on social media.

    THANK YOU to my fantastic co-instructors, Christian Bryant, president of the Portland Area ROA, and owner of IRC Enterprises, and property manager Violet Wilson, of the Salem RHA, who chairs the Education/Mentoring Committee, and serves as ORHA Secretary. Both are frequent instructors for their chapters and others around the state and donated their teaching time to benefit our sister chapter.

    THANK YOU to those of you around the state who made the trip or logged on to attend. We raised more than $1800 to support our sister association and we appreciate your support.

    And finally, THANK YOU AGAIN to ORHA Technology Director, Cloud Miller who manages our online Forms Store, and ORHA Office Manager, Ben Seamans, both of whom continue to propel ORHA into the new age. Their outsized contributions to our success at this event and to our association cannot be overstated.

  • Tuesday, June 06, 2023 10:53 AM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi
    June, 2023

    Landlord Penalties
    Think education is expensive and time consuming? Prepare to pay for your ignorance.

    “This has never happened to me before.” “I’ve always done it this way.” “But it’s a no-cause notice!” “I didn’t know that.” “I don’t have time to read what you send.” “I don’t have time for classes.”

    I’ve heard it all over and over again - the reasons why one of my clients or members finds themselves in hot water with a renter. Some of you are your own worst enemy because you refuse to treat landlording as a business. Maybe the following information will inspire you to change your ways…

    For every mistake a landlord makes, the law provides the tenant with remedies, including financial penalties. What are they? Let’s start with damages. Two of the first statutes in ORS Chapter 90 provide for the payment of damages to an aggrieved party, require both parties to mitigate damages, and operate in good faith. Payment of damages means that if one party harms another party accidentally, intentionally, or negligently and the other party suffers financial loss from that harm, they owe the other party compensation equal to the harm. That goes both ways, but for the purposes of this article I’m focusing only on damages a tenant can extract from their landlord.

    90.125 Administration of remedies; enforcement. (1) The remedies provided by this chapter shall be so administered that an aggrieved party may recover appropriate damages. The aggrieved party has a duty to mitigate damages.
    (2) Any right or obligation declared by this chapter is enforceable by action unless the provision declaring it specifies a different and limited effect. [Formerly 91.725]

    90.130 Obligation of good faith. Every duty under this chapter and every act which must be performed as a condition precedent to the exercise of a right or remedy under this chapter imposes an obligation of good faith in its performance or enforcement.

    Statutory Penalties

    90.150 Service or delivery of actual notice. 90.155 Service or delivery of written notice. 90.160 Calculation of notice periods. These three statutes outline how each party may serve legal notice upon the other. Different statutes call for different service methods. Different termination types provide for different notice periods. If a landlord improperly prepares or serves notice of termination, the tenant has a defense against eviction.

    90.222 – Renters liability insurance. If a landlord requires a tenant to obtain renters insurance without providing the proper disclosures or knowingly requires it when the tenant is not legally obligated to obtain it, the tenant may recover the actual damages of the tenant or $250, whichever is greater.

    90.228 – Notice of location in 100-year flood plain. If a landlord fails to provide a notice required under this section, and the tenant of the dwelling unit suffers an uninsured loss due to flooding, the tenant may recover from the landlord the lesser of the actual damages for the uninsured loss or two months’ rent.

    90.245 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements; remedy. 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.

    90.295 Applicant Screening Charges. A landlord may require the payment of an applicant screening charge only if prior to accepting the payment they provide written screening criteria to view, they have an available unit or one that will be available soon, tell the applicant approximately how many units of that type they have or will have available, notify the applicant of approximately how many applications they already have that remain under consideration, and provide a receipt for the fee. The landlord must perform screening of the application or must refund the fee. Landlord penalty is double refund of the fee plus $150.

    90.297 Prohibition on charging deposit or fee to enter rental agreement; exceptions; deposit allowed for securing execution of rental agreement; remedy. A landlord may not charge a move-in fee. A landlord may require payment of a deposit-to-hold from an approved applicant to secure the execution of a rental agreement in the future, but only if they provide a written statement describing the amount of rent, fees and deposits required, the terms of the agreement and the conditions for refunding or retaining the funds. Without providing this information, if a rental agreement is not executed due to the landlord’s failure to comply with the agreement - i.e., make the unit available for move in on the promised date - they must return the funds collected within four days. Failure to comply with this section makes the landlord liable for return of the deposit-to-hold or improperly charged move in fee plus $150.

    90.300 Security deposits; prepaid rent. Failing to provide a written accounting that states specifically the basis or bases of the claim within 31 days by First Class Mail or personal delivery, withholding funds in bad faith, applying prepaid rent incorrectly, or failing to account for designated deposits properly, makes the landlord liable for twice the amount withheld without a written accounting or withheld in bad faith.

    90.302 Fees allowed for certain landlord expenses; accounting not required; fees for noncompliance with written rules; tenant remedies. Landlords may only charge fees as allowed by this section. A fee is a nonrefundable payment of money for specific violations of the rental agreement, including late fees, dishonored check fees, alarm tampering fees, lease-break fees, and noncompliance fees. Any legal fees that a landlord may charge in accordance with this section must be listed in the written rental agreement. If not listed, you can’t charge. If a landlord charges a tenant a fee in violation of this section, the tenant may recover twice the actual damages of the tenant or $300, whichever is greater.

    90.304 Statement of reasons for denial; remedy for noncompliance. Landlords must deny applications in writing outlining the reasons for the denial, regardless of whether they charge a fee for screening. They must also screen within the guidelines of the law. If a landlord fails to comply with this section, the applicant may recover from the landlord $100.

    90.310 Disclosure of legal proceedings; tenant remedies for failure to disclose; liability of manager.  If the landlord fails to disclose the foreclosure status of a rental property with four units or less and the tenant moves out as a result, the tenant may recover twice their actual damages or twice the monthly rent, whichever is greater, and all prepaid rent, in addition to any other remedy that the law may provide.

    90.315 Utility or service payments; additional charges; responsibility for utility or service; remedies. Failure to disclose utilities or services that benefits the landlord or another tenant, or failure to properly follow each of the very specific requirements to assess utility or service charges to the tenant in accordance with this section incurs a landlord penalty of twice the tenant’s actual damages or one month’s rent, whichever is greater. This section of law also addresses issues where a past tenant’s bill is required to be paid prior to utility services being established. If the tenant has not moved in, the remedies available to the tenant in this circumstance are to 1) pay the outstanding amount and deduct it from the rent; 2) enter into an agreement with the landlord to resolve the issue; or, 3) immediately terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord actual notice and the reason for the termination. If the tenancy terminates, the landlord shall return all moneys paid by the tenant as deposits, rent or fees within four days after termination.

    If the tenant has already taken possession of the unit, the tenant may, 1) pay the outstanding amount and deduct it from the rent; or, 2) terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord actual notice 72 hours prior to the date of the termination. The tenancy does not terminate if the landlord restores service or the availability of service during the 72 hours. If the tenancy terminates, the tenant may recover actual damages from the landlord resulting from the shutoff and the landlord shall return within four days after termination, all rent prepaid for the month in which the termination occurs prorated from the date of termination or the date the tenant vacates the premises, whichever is later, and all of the security deposit owed to the tenant under ORS 90.300. If a landlord fails to return to the tenant the moneys owed as provided in…this section, the tenant shall be entitled to twice the amount wrongfully withheld…(and)…this section does not preclude the tenant from pursuing any other remedies under this chapter.

    90.320 Landlord to maintain premises in habitable condition; agreement with tenant to maintain premises. This section of law outlines the duties of a landlord to maintain the unit in a habitable condition, but the penalties for failing to do so, are iterated in ORS 90.360.

    90.322 Landlord or agent access to premises; remedies. The landlord or their agent has the right to enter the premises at reasonable times for many purposes with proper legal notice or without notice in case of an emergency. “Emergency” includes but is not limited to a repair problem that, unless remedied immediately is likely to cause serious damage to the premises. If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes repeated demands for entry otherwise lawful but that have the effect of unreasonably harassing the tenant, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to prevent the reoccurrence of the conduct or may terminate the rental agreement pursuant to ORS 90.360(1). In addition, the tenant may recover actual damages not less than an amount equal to one week’s rent in the case of a week-to-week tenancy or one month’s rent in all other cases.

    90.323 Maximum rent increase; exceptions; notice. Raising rent improperly by increasing rent within the first year of tenancy, increasing it beyond the rent cap when not exempt, or failing to provide a written 90-day notice incurs a landlord penalty of three months’ rent plus actual damages suffered by the tenant.

    90.360 Effect of landlord noncompliance with rental agreement or obligation to maintain premises; generally. This statute addresses a landlord’s failure to supply habitable housing or make appropriate and necessary repairs. After appropriate notice, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement, move out, and recover their actual damages. The landlord must also return all deposits and prepaid rent. The tenant has no right to recover if they caused the damage or knew about the condition but failed to notify the landlord.

    90.365 Failure of landlord to supply essential services; remedies. If the landlord intentionally or negligently fails to supply any essential service, the tenant may notify their landlord in writing and provide them a reasonable time to remedy the situation, after which a tenant may 1) procure reasonable amounts of the service during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent; 2) recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or 3) if the lack of essential service makes the dwelling unit unsafe or unfit to occupy, procure substitute housing and deduct it from the rent and seek damages for the difference. The tenant can’t claim if they caused the problem, the landlord substantially supplies the essential service, or if the landlord is making reasonable efforts to supply the essential service and the cause of the problem is beyond the landlord’s control.

    90.367 Application of security deposit or prepaid rent after notice of foreclosure; termination of fixed term tenancy after notice. If a tenant receives actual notice that their rental property is in foreclosure, they may require the landlord to apply any security deposits or prepaid rent to their ongoing rent obligation with written notice. If the property is retrieved from foreclosure, the landlord may require repayment of those funds, but must allow up to 90 days for the tenant to pay.

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

    90.380 Effect of rental of dwelling in violation of building or housing codes; remedy. This statute is long and extremely situational, dealing with condemned properties or those deemed uninhabitable by the government. In that case, the penalties are varied. The statute does provide a benefit to the landlord in the case of an act of God or another random destructive event that renders the unit unsafe to occupy. After the property is red-tagged the landlord may terminate the tenancy with 24 hours’ notice.

    90.385 Retaliatory conduct by landlord; tenant remedies and defenses; action for possession in certain cases. This is a statute that gets a lot of landlords in trouble. Retaliatory acts can include increasing rent, decreasing services, terminating tenancy, evicting, or even threatening to evict the tenant after they have performed a protected act. Retaliation may be claimed as a defense if the tenant complains or threatens to complain to a governmental agency about building, health or safety codes, mail delivery, discrimination, or the tenant organizes or joins a tenants’ union, they testify against you in a proceeding, or beat you in eviction court within the past six months. Then there’s a last catch-all phrase in the statute, “Or, the tenant has performed or expressed intent to perform any other act for the purpose of asserting, protecting or invoking the protection of any right secured to tenants under any federal, state or local law.” That covers a lot of ground. If the landlord retaliates, the tenant is entitled to the remedies outlined in 90.375 and has a defense against eviction.

    There are some defenses to retaliation. The complaints by the tenant were unreasonable in their timing or manner and served only to harass the landlord, the violation of codes was caused by the tenant, the tenant was in default in rent (unless they pay rent into court), or compliance with codes requires the tenant to vacate.

    90.390 Discrimination against tenant or applicant; tenant defense. If a landlord discriminates against a tenant or applicant in violation of local, state or federal law, the tenant has a defense against eviction, unless the tenant is in default in rent; however, the tenant may pay rent into court and may then proceed with a discrimination defense.

    90.391 Information to veterans required in notice. In any notice of termination, the landlord is required to include information on where veterans may access housing assistance – regardless of whether the tenant is a veteran. The language must be in the notice, not attached to it. If not provided, the tenant has a defense against eviction.

    90.394 Termination of tenancy for failure to pay rent. Landlords must now provide at least 10-days’ written notice for nonpayment of rent and must include information on rent assistance with the notice. If landlord fails to include rent assistance information, or refuses to cooperate with an assisting agency, the tenant has a defense against eviction.

    90.412 Waiver of termination of tenancy. If a landlord accepts behavior from a tenant in violation of the rental agreement for three separate rental periods or longer, they waive their rights to terminate based on that specific breach. Waiver can be a tenant defense against eviction.

    90.414 Acts not constituting waiver of termination of tenancy; delivery of rent refund. A landlord may create a different kind of waiver if they accept payment from a tenant that exceeds the amount owing when a notice of termination is pending, or the landlord has initiated an eviction. The landlord has 10 days to return an overpayment by First Class Mail or personal delivery and avoid waiver. Waiver can be a tenant defense against eviction.

    90.425 Disposition of personal property abandoned by tenant. Landlords must comply to the letter with a tenant’s right to their abandoned property, by providing legal notice and follow all regulations based on the type of property that is abandoned. If the landlord fails to comply with statute, the tenant is relieved of any liability for damage to the premises caused by conduct that was not deliberate, intentional, or grossly negligent and for unpaid rent and may recover from the landlord up to twice the actual damages sustained by the tenant.

    90.427 Termination of tenancy without tenant cause; effect of termination notice. This statute outlines all the ways a landlord can evict for no cause; although, it does include nonrenewal in a fixed-term lease for three strikes (which is to my mind, a termination for cause, but I digress). There are specific rules a landlord must follow in terminating tenancy for no cause or a qualifying landlord reason that are outlined and the timeframes required for each. If a landlord terminates a tenancy in violation of this section, the landlord shall be liable to the tenant in an amount equal to three months’ rent plus the tenant’s actual damages, and the tenant has a defense against eviction.

    90.449 Landlord discrimination against victim; exception, tenant defenses and remedies. This statute addresses landlord discrimination against a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. If a landlord discriminates against a victim, the tenant or applicant may recover up to two months’ periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained by the tenant or applicant, whichever is greater, the tenant has a defense against eviction, and the applicant may obtain injunctive relief to gain possession of the dwelling unit.

    90.460 Alternate exit from bedroom required; tenant right to recover for landlord. A landlord shall provide at all times during the tenancy a route or routes of exit from each bedroom and, if required, a secondary route of exit from each bedroom, for use during an emergency. The routes of exit must conform to applicable law in effect at the time of occupancy of the building or in effect after a renovation or change of use of the building, whichever is later. If the landlord fails to comply with this section, the tenant may recover their actual damages and terminate the tenancy with 72 hours’ actual notice. If the landlord cures the violation within the 72-hour period, the tenancy does not terminate; if they do not, then the tenant may terminate and recover twice their actual damages or twice the periodic rent, whichever is greater, and the landlord must return all security deposits and prepaid rent owed to the tenant under ORS 90.300 within four days after the termination.

    EPA Penalties
    If the landlord fails to supply the pamphlet, “Protect your Family from Lead in the Home,” to a tenant in a property built before 1978, and have them sign acknowledging receipt, the base fine is $6,000. Remember that rules for renovating homes built before 1978 have also changed and make a landlord, property owner or property manager liable for a third party who performs work on a pre-1978 built structure. Everyone, even property owners, must be lead-paint certified and must comply with the applicable rules. Mishandling of lead-based paint or other hazardous materials like asbestos can bring hefty fines along with remediation requirements.

    Fair Housing Violation Penalties
    You may not discriminate against a tenant or applicant in a protected class and there are severe landlord penalties for doing so. Protected classes are:
    Federal - Race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
    State of Oregon - Marital status, source of income, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
    Local - Some cities in Oregon have additional protected classes. Eugene, for example, has added protections for age, type of occupation, ethnicity, and domestic partnership.

    If a Fair Housing investigator concludes that a landlord violated the Fair Housing Act, they can be ordered to:

    • Compensate the tenant for actual damages, including out-of-pocket expenses and emotional distress damages.
    • Provide permanent injunctive relief.
    • Provide appropriate equitable relief (for example, make the housing available to the tenant).
    •  Pay the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
    • Pay a civil penalty to HUD to vindicate the public interest. The maximum civil penalties are:
      •  $16,000, for a first violation of the Act.
      • $37,500 if a previous violation has occurred within the preceding five-year period.
      • $65,000 if two or more previous violations have occurred within the preceding seven-year period.

    The takeaway
    Remember the old saying:  If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. You’ll pay one way or the other, either through taking the time to get properly educated, or by paying tuition in the school of hard knocks. I’ve paid that tuition and I’ve found it more cost effective to learn how to do things the right way in the first place. All I hear is how expensive attorneys are, how much it costs to belong to ROA, how much time and expense is involved in taking classes because, “I’m just so busy.”

    How much attorney time could $16,000 buy you? Just asking…

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

     Rev 6/2023

  • Monday, May 08, 2023 3:15 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi, ORHA President
    May 01, 2023

    ROADC Palooza!
    Hope to see you all at the ROADC Palooza on Friday, May 19th at the Holiday Inn in Roseburg with in-person and virtual options for attendance. Three of us are volunteering to teach that day, myself, Christian Bryant, and Violet Wilson. Our goal is to raise awareness and boost the coffers of the Rental Owners Association of Douglas County, a chapter that is in the ORHA Mentoring Program. This event started last year in Astoria and was a great experience.

    The hotel is fantastic, with every room having a balcony with a river view, and an indoor pool. There is also a huge covered hot tub right on the river. Remember, your travel expenses can be tax deductible as a business expense if you come for the education, and there are some great things to do and see in the lovely Umpqua Valley, including Wildlife Safari, various wineries, parks, a great museum, gardens, farms, waterfalls, and nearby hikes. So, bring the family, get some great education and sneak in a little fun. Please join us in person or online for a fabulous day of education!

    The Education/Mentorship Committee under Violet Wilson’s leadership has expanded greatly and is making a real difference to our smaller associations, helping them grow and providing education and other types of support that over time will contribute to their membership base and eventual self-sufficiency. We’re all in this together; what we do to help each other makes us all stronger. Read Violet’s rundown of our Mentorship Program later in the newsletter.

    What does it mean to be an ORHA Delegate?
    Our county associations and their representatives make up the Oregon Rental Housing Association. Each chapter is allowed two delegates and two alternate delegates. Delegates are who make up the ORHA Board of Directors, without delegates attending meetings and taking their turn in leadership of the board and our various committees, we cease to exist.

    When chapters don’t send their delegates, too much work gets piled on too few, so the Executive Committee is exploring options for increasing the allowable delegates for those associations who have more willing volunteers. We want to ensure, however, that each chapter’s input is given equal weight, so whatever proposal we end up bringing before the board, each county association will still only be allowed two votes at board meetings. The Executive Committee plans to present our ideas at the July meeting in Silverton at the Oregon Gardens Resort.

    Nearing the end of the 2023 long legislative session
    We’re close to the end of this year’s session. Thank you all so much for your vigorous response when we emailed you asking for testimony Check out our legislative team’s update later in the newsletter.

    Despite the many challenges we face, rental ownership is still a great way to build financial stability, we just need to stay educated on how to operate within the ever-changing regulatory landscape. We appreciate your membership and support!

    Tia Politi, ORHA President

  • Monday, May 08, 2023 2:52 PM | Benjamyn Seamans (Administrator)

    By: Tia Politi
    May 01, 2023

    Like to save money? I sure do. As frugal as I am you’d think I was raised during the Great Depression. But I’m seeing a lot of landlords trying to save a buck and costing themselves big time.

    Online Screening Company Nightmares
    Zillow - Apartments.com - Furnished Finders
    Don’t let these people screen for you! Why not?

    • They do a poor job at screening. In at least two cases I looked up, Zillow reported to a member that the applicant had no criminal record when they did. Zillow, Furnished Finders, and others make it seem as though they are performing the same functions as any screening company, but are they? Not in my experience.
    • Also, unless you’ve put your full screening criteria in your ad and let the tenant know where they are in line, you’ve just violated ORS 90.295. Didn’t charge the fee you say? Wrong. These companies have charged it on your behalf as your agent.
    • You could get flooded with applications, requiring you to then deny multiple applicants. I got a call on the Lane Helpline from a member who had posted her ad on Zillow and checked the box allowing Zillow to screen for her. She woke up the next morning to 60 applications in her inbox. She asked if she had to send written denials to everyone she didn’t select. The answer is YES – read ORS 90.304. In Oregon, regardless of whether you charge a screening fee, and even if you’re denying someone’s application because you rented the unit to someone else, you must deny each applicant in writing within 14 days. If you used a screening service, you must let the applicant know the name and address of the screening company…better get Zillow’s address! And, because her ad didn’t list her screening criteria or indicate where the applicants were in line, technically, she was in default of the requirements for landlords to charge a screening fee. The penalty for that is a refund of twice the amount of the fee plus $150. I recommended that she consider refunding the fees of everyone she did not choose to be on the safe side.
    • If the denial is based on a credit report, you must inform the applicant of the name of the credit reporting company who provided the information. Do you know where Zillow, Apartments.com or Furnished Finders are pulling credit info? Better find out…

    Instead, always use a reputable company that knows the laws in Oregon, such as Acranet or National Tenant Network.

    Bad Rental Agreements
    Don’t use free rental agreements online, including Apartments.com, Furnished Finders or any other free thing you find. Why? While there’s some standardized parts of these agreements that are okay, in every agreement I’ve seen, I find provisions that are illegal in Oregon. such as charging late fees if rent is not received by the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of the month instead of the minimum of 4 days, incorrect fee charges for late rent that made it so the landlord could not charge a fee at all, NSF fees that are higher or lower than provided by law, and no disclosure regarding what noncompliance fees a landlord may charge (which is required for you to assess those).

    While it’s not against the law to have illegal provisions in your rental agreements, it’s a huge problem if you attempt to enforce those provisions. A tenant attorney would be happy to educate you for an exorbitant fee.

    90.245 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements; remedy. (1) A rental agreement may not provide that the tenant:

    • (a) Agrees to waive or forgo rights or remedies under this chapter;
    • (b) Authorizes any person to confess judgment on a claim arising out of the rental agreement;
    • (c) Agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability arising as a result of the other party’s willful misconduct or negligence or to indemnify the other party for that liability or costs connected therewith; or
    • (d) Agrees to pay liquidated damages, except as allowed under ORS 90.302 (2)(e).

    (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. [emphasis added]

    I’ve seen agreements that confuse deposits with fees and lead the unwary landlord to charge move in fees, pet fees, cleaning fees, etc., when those things are illegal under Oregon law. A fee is a nonrefundable payment of money, a deposit is a payment of money held by the landlord to secure against default or damage and is always potentially refundable. ORS 90.302 restricts the charging of fees to specific defaults or violations, and any fee the landlord may charge must be described in the written rental agreement, or you can’t charge any fees at all.

    I’ve seen things in these agreements that limit your rights as well. For example, a requirement that the security deposit accounting be returned within 15-20 days instead of the full 31 days provided by law. While a tenant cannot waive their rights per the statute above, nothing prevents a landlord from waiving theirs. So, using agreements that limit your rights are enforceable against you.

    I’ve seen agreements that include lead-based paint information without the landlord perhaps not providing the required EPA pamphlet, “Protect Your Family from Lead in the Home,” or getting the tenant’s acknowledgement that they received it, and without the full legal disclosure required by the EPA. Remember, EPA penalties start at $6,000.00.

    I once had a client have to pay their tenants and the tenants attorney an $11,000.00 settlement partly based on a bad rental agreement that did not disclose that the tenants were responsible for their own garbage service. Say, what? Yes, remember under the Habitability section of landlord-tenant law landlords must indicate the tenant is responsible for garbage removal in writing or must provide garbage service:

    ORS 90.320(1)(g)
    Except as otherwise provided by local ordinance or by written agreement between the landlord and the tenant, an adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the rental agreement, and the landlord shall provide and maintain appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and arrange for their removal.

    This wasn’t the only issue at hand in the case, but it was a habitability violation that gave the tenant’s attorney ammunition to use in court. Still think free agreements are a good idea? Allow me to continue to beat you over the head (figuratively) with my ORHA Law Book. I’ve seen the following issues with many of these “free” agreements:

    • Required the tenant to get renter’s insurance but did not state when it is illegal to require – a violation of ORS 90.222. It also did not require that they must name the landlord as an interested party.
    • An indemnification section against damages caused by mold which could lead the unwary landlord to think they are protected – not so.
    • A 60-day no-cause notice after the first year of tenancy, which is only allowed in a two-unit, owner-occupied property.
    • A lease of the property on a year-to-year basis – terrible idea.
    • Arbitration clauses that don’t specify who will pay for the service. Does this mean you can’t pursue legal remedies until this remedy is fully explored? Not sure.
    • Non-waiver clause that says no matter what the landlord does they don’t create waiver. Not enforceable.
    • Late rent makes all rent due immediately.
    • Prohibits the tenant from terminating the agreement at all.
    • Allows the landlord to retake possession without due process if the tenant is gone for more than 7 days without notice. 

    One member let me know that Zillow routes phone calls through their system, not directly to your phone number. He said, “They say it's to reduce spam…They also record the entire conversation. For example, I can hear both my voicemail and the message the person left in this phone lead. It's creepy and I'm not sure it's legal…though I probably consented to it at some point. Anyway, might be worth noting in your article that their phone system is fully recorded.”

    The takeaway

    • Use proper screening forms that disclose all the required information for the state of Oregon (Screening Packet – ORHA form #S1), and, if you’re charging a screening fee, you must comply with ORS 90.295(3):
      • A landlord may not require payment of an applicant screening charge unless prior to accepting the payment the landlord:
      • (a) Adopts written screening or admission criteria;
      • (b) Gives written notice to the applicant of:
        • (A) The amount of the applicant screening charge;
        • (B) The landlord’s screening or admission criteria;
        • (C) The process that the landlord typically will follow in screening the applicant, including whether the landlord uses a tenant screening company, credit reports, public records or criminal records or contacts employers, landlords or other references;
        • (D) The applicant’s rights to dispute the accuracy of any information provided to the landlord by a screening company or credit reporting agency;
        • (E) A right to appeal a negative determination, if any right to appeal exists;
        • (F) Any nondiscrimination policy as required by federal, state or local law plus any nondiscrimination policy of the landlord, including that a landlord may not discriminate against an applicant because of the race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status or source of income of the applicant;
        • (G) The amount of rent the landlord will charge and the deposits the landlord will require, subject to change in the rent or deposits by agreement of the landlord and the tenant before entering into a rental agreement; and
        • (H) Whether the landlord requires tenants to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance and, if so, the amount of insurance required; and
      • (c) Gives actual notice to the applicant of an estimate, made to the best of the landlord’s ability at that time, of the approximate number of rental units of the type, and in the area, sought by the applicant that are, or within a reasonable future time will be, available to rent from that landlord.
    • Use proper rental forms from the Oregon Rental Housing Association or other reputable landlord association and use all the necessary forms – Don’t step over a dollar to pick up a nickel it’s never worth it!

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

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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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