Phil Querin: City of Portland’s New Relocation Assistance Protections for Renters with Rent Increases

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Phil Querin

 

The City of Portland continues to tighten its grip on local landlords. It has temporarily amended its housing code to provide thatif anyrent increase effective between September 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021 is received and the tenant is unable to pay the increased amount, the renter is potentially eligible for Relocation Assistance from the landlord. See: Portland City Code,  PCC 30.01.085

 

The Tenant Relocation Assistance amounts are as follows:  $2,900 for a studio or Single Room Occupancy Dwelling Unit; $3,300 for a one-bedroom Dwelling Unit; $4,200 for a two-bedroom Dwelling Unit; and $4,500 for a three-bedroom or larger Dwelling Unit.  

Previously, a rent increase of 10% or more, as measured over a rolling 12-month period, gave option a tenant the ability to request Relocation Assistance from their landlord.  Now, all rent increases are frozen for nonexempt tenancies between September 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Two major exemptions: (a) Renter shares the dwelling unit with the landlord or (b) The tenancy is week-to-week. For a complete list go to: Administrative Rules.

 

Rent Increase Notices Issued After September 16. If the landlord issued the rent increase notice after September 16, and represents in good faith that they were not aware of the new ordinance, he or she may provide written notice to the tenant that rescindsthe rent increase. Doing so relieves the landlord of the potential relocation assistance obligation. However, the tenant must receive the rescission notice from the landlord within 30 calendar days from the delivery of the original rent increase notice.

 

Rent Increase Notices Issued Before September 16. If the landlord has already given notice of a rent increase that becomes effective between September 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021, thus triggering the potential Relocation Assistance payment, the tenant has 45 calendar days after receiving the rent increase notice or until September 30, 2020, whichever is longer, to provide written request for Relocation Assistance to the landlord. 

 

However, the landlord may provide written notice to the tenant that rescinds the rent increase notice and refunds any increased rent paid by the tenant, thus relieving the landlord of the potential obligation.  The tenant must receive the landlord’s notice and refund of increased rents paid no later than 30 calendar days after receiving the tenant’s written notice requesting Relocation Assistance. 

 

Portland City Limits.The Relocation Assistance rules only apply to “residential rental units” within Portland city limits, which can be managed by an owner, a sublessor, or property management company. They can be either month-to-month rental agreements or fixed-term tenancies (i.e. leases). 

Does This Apply To Manufactured Housing Communities? In my opinion “No”, but others may disagree, and should secure their own opinion. I say this because although PCC 30.01.085does refer to “Dwelling Units” as defined in the Oregon Landlord Tenant Act[1](and that law says that if it is in a manufactured housing community, they are referring to the space and not the structure). But how can relocation assistance be categorized for a community space as being one-bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom, or larger?  If manufactured housing spaces were ever intended to be included in this ordinance, the drafters would have had to include the structure in order to determine the amount of the relocation assistance. They did not do so. 

Secondly, for some reason PCC 30.01.085lists several exemptions to the relocation assistance rules, but notes that: “For purposes of the exemptions provided in this Subsection, “Dwelling Unit” is defined by PCC 33.910, and not by ORS 90.100.” But Portland City Code 33.910 defines a “Dwelling Unit” based upon “Residential Structure Types” such as Accessory Dwelling Units, Duplexes, or a “dwelling unit located on its own lot”. It also defines a “Dwelling Unit” as a “building or portion of a building….”  

So, once again, manufactured housing appears to be the inadvertent beneficiary of drafting oversight, which in this case, is a good thing. 

Caveat: The above is not to be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are encouraged to secure their own legal opinion.

 

[1]ORS 90.100(12) “Dwelling unit” means a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home, residence or sleeping place by one person who maintains a household or by two or more persons who maintain a common household. “Dwelling unit” regarding a person who rents a space for a manufactured dwelling or recreational vehicle or regarding a person who rents moorage space for a floating home as defined in ORS 830.700, but does not rent the home, means the space rented and not the manufactured dwelling, recreational vehicle or floating home itself. (Emphasis added.)

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