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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 06/06/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rev. 5/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 05/05/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By: Benjamyn Seamans
    Date: 4/7/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Date: 3/21/2022

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

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

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

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

    Other parts of the law:

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

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

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

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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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