Question: We have had to file two consecutive FED Complaints against a resident. The day before the first appearance for each case, the resident tender the rent that was due, although he do not pay the court fees of $115.00. After two months of this, he owes us $230.00. He promises to repay this amount but does not. Now rent is due for January, 2012. We are sure the same thing will happen again. How can we collect the court fees?
Answer: I assume that when he tenders the rent, you accept it and report to the court that the case is to be dismissed. This means that any leverage you had to make the full payment, including court fees, has disappeared. You might consider one of the two following alternatives:
1. Since the 72 hours has already expired and you’ve had to file the FED complaint, you are not required to accept the rent unless he agrees to pay the court fees. Next time, if he declines, don’t let the case be dismissed. Go to the regularly scheduled first appearance. If he shows up, tell the judge you’d gladly permit him to stay if he pays the filing fees. If he can’t afford to pay it in one lump sum, negotiate a repayment plan (e.g. 50% next month and 50% the following month). Then have the judge put the agreement in a Stipulated Judgment of Restitution, which means that if he doesn’t pay the sums do as scheduled, you can go back to court to have him evicted.
2. Under Oregon’s “three strikes” law [ORS 90.630(8)-(10)], if a resident is issued three 72-hour notices within a rolling 12 month period, you can issue them a 30-day non-curable eviction notice, on or shortly after, the third strike. Then you can say to the resident that you will permit them to stay only on condition of payment of the outstanding court fees. Obviously, this is a pretty big hammer and if they can’t pay the fees all at once, you should negotiate partial payments, similar to what I suggested above. However, this alternative would automatically not result in a “Stipulated Judgment of Restitution” (you would have to be in court to get that). For that reason, I prefer No. 1 over No. 2.