Oregon last week became the first state to impose a statewide rent control policy. Along the way, it banned evictions without cause.
What does it mean for renters?
Here’s a quick guide.
Q. What’s the cap on rent increases and how does it work?
A. The new law caps rent hikes at 7 percent plus inflation during any given 12 month-period.
For this bill, the measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index for Western states.
Each year in September, state economists will calculate the rent increase cap for the next calendar year. For the remainder of 2019, that number is 10.3 percent.
Q. When am I covered under the rent control provisions?
A. The rent control piece of the bill takes effect immediately.
However, if a landlord gave notice of a rent increase that exceeds the cap before the bill was signed Thursday, the increase still counts.
Q. What happens to rent control when a unit is vacant?
A. In most cases, landlords are free to increase rents if tenants leave of their own accord. If, however, a tenant is evicted without cause or their lease isn’t renewed after the first year, the rent increase cap stays in place.
Q. When does the ban on no-cause evictions take effect?
A. For month-to-month renters, it takes effect on the first lease renewal after March 30.
In theory, that means landlords could evict most month-to-month renters the next time their lease is up for renewal. But in many cases, that’s made more difficult because of required eviction notices.
Most people who have lived in the same unit for more than a year under a month-to-month lease are protected because the state requires a 60-day notice. Only 30 days’ notice is required if the renter has lived in the unit for less than a year. (In the city of Portland, 90 days’ notice is required for a no-cause eviction regardless.)
For renters on a year-to-year lease, eviction protections take effect at the next lease renewal after Feb. 28. That means that landlords likely have time to give required lease termination notice before the next lease renewal and may have a window to evict a tenant without cause.
After the bill is fully phased in, fixed-term leases must convert to month-to-month when they expire unless another fixed-term agreement is mutually reached.
Q. When can renters be evicted?
A. Landlords can still evict tenants for cause if they violate the terms of their lease.
That includes failure to pay rent or violating another term of the agreement. However, tenants are allowed in most cases to “cure,” or fix, the violation and avoid the eviction.
For a fixed-term leases, such as a 12-month lease, a landlord may evict the tenant with 90 days’ notice at the end of the term if they have provided the tenant with written warnings about three separate violations of the lease agreement at the time of the violation, even if the tenant ends up fixing the issue.
Landlords may also evict renters without cause at the end of their first year of tenancy with 90 days’ notice.
Renters can also be evicted with 90 days’ notice when the landlord intends to:
- demolish or repurpose the home as something other than a residence;
- renovate or repair premises that are or will be unsafe or unfit for occupancy within a reasonable time;
- live in the home, or move a family member into the home, when there’s no other comparable unit available at the same location;
- when the landlord has accepted a buyer’s offer to buy the property and the buyer intends to move in.
In the case of those “landlord-based” causes, the landlord must pay the tenant one month’s rent to offset the cost of moving. That excludes small landlords who own four or fewer rentals.
The new eviction restrictions don’t apply at all to landlords who are their tenant’s roommate or who split a duplex with the tenant.
Q. What about Portland’s relocation ordinance?
A. The city ordinance remains in effect. The Portland City Council is expected to clarify its ordinance this month to specify that landlord will pay whatever’s greater between the one month’s rent required by the state and the city’s $2,900 to $4,500 moving expenses, depending on unit size.
Also, Portland’s relocation assistance kicks in when a landlord increases rent by 10 percent or more in a 12-month period. In the case of 10.3 percent rent increase that maxes out the rent control cap, a landlord would still have to offer an eligible Portland tenant relocation assistance.
Q. Does the bill apply to renters of manufactured or floating homes?
A. Yes, both the rent control and eviction measures apply. That includes people who rent space or moorage for a manufactured home, recreational vehicle or houseboat that they own.
Q. What happens if a landlord violates the law?
A. A landlord who breaks the rules, either through an illegal rent hike or a wrongful termination, is liable to the tenant for three months’ rent plus actual damages.
The preceding article is by Elliot Njus with The Oregonian/OregonLive