Phil Querin Q&A: Do new Oregon laws on "Section 8" and other sources of income mean that any applicant receiving assistance must be accepted as a resident?

Want access to MHCO content?

For complete access to forms, conference presentations, community updates and MHCO columns, log in to your account or register.

January 16, 2014

Question: I just read the information regarding House Bill 2639, which addresses source of income and states that a person may not, because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status, or source of income, refuse to sell, lease or rent any real property to a prospective renter/lessee. The bill states that "Source of Income" now includes federal rent subsidy payments under Section 8 and any other local, state or federal housing assistance. I have always refused to accept any applicant who does not have sufficient income to pay the rent. My policy is that a renter can pay no-more than 33% of their income for housing. Does BILL 2638 mean that I must now rent to Section 8 applicants or anyone who is received rent subsidy payments?

Answer: HB 2639 will become effective on July 1, 2014. It applies to all housing, whether or not it is manufactured housing inside of a community. The current law provides that a landlord may not refuse to sell, lease or rent any real property to a prospective lessee or tenant based upon the following factors: • Race; • Color; • Religion; • Sex; • Sexual orientation; • National origin; • Marital status; • Familial status (i.e. children under 18 years of age); and • Source of income. Under HB 2639 “source of income” now includes federal rent subsidy payments under Section 8 and any other local, state or federal housing assistance. [However, it does not include income derived from a specific occupation or income derived in an illegal manner.] Your concern is misplaced, but you still must be careful. HB 2639 clarifies that the prohibition against discrimination does not prevent you from refusing to rent or lease real property to a prospective renter/lessee based upon their inability to pay rent. If you have a 33% rule, and consistently apply it, you should be fine. However, what you must do is to include in your 33% calculation, any moneys the applicant is receiving from other state, local, or federal assistance, including Section 8 subsidies (collectively “Government Assistance”). You may not deny an applicant solely because they are receiving Government Assistance, and you must include it in your calculations. Conclusion. It is my opinion that HB 2639 means that going forward, you should include all Government Assistance, as well as other income, when calculating your applicants’ ability to pay the space rent. In other words, just because they receive Government Assistance does not mean that you may deny them occupancy. Lastly, even if they qualify under your 33% rule, after including their Government Assistance, if there are other legitimate grounds for denial, such as prior rental history or criminal record, you are still legally entitled to reject them. Please understand that this is not legal advice, and you should verify my interpretation with you own attorney.

Location Tags: