Legislative Update:  MHCO Defeats ‘2 Year Rent Freeze’; Legislature Extends Non Payment of Rent; Mark Busch Article                        

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Editor’s Note: On Friday, June 26ththe Oregon Legislature concluded it’s First Special Session of 2020. Unfortunately, political hostilities between landlords/community owners and the majority party in the Oregon House and Senate seems to be at an all – time high. 

 

One bright spot was MHCO’s push back on a legislative discussion proposing a ‘two year rent freeze’.  MHCO was successful in derailing that discussion, but Democratic legislators left no doubt that ‘they will be watching landlords’ in the moths ahead. Reasonable proposals on ‘waiver’, local preemption of local government ‘non payment of rent’ extensions; a proposal to compensate landlords for non payment of rent from the Oregon Housing Stability Council (HB 4213 – 6 amendment), and a ‘liability shield’ were all turned down by the majority party.  

There was a lot of talk about helping landlords – but no action to back it up.  Somehow the legislature thinks ‘housing’ magically appears and will always be available – even in the face of facts and a flood of phone calls and emails from constituents – they seem to know better.  

Below is a summary of the new legislative changes from last week by attorney Mark Busch.   MHCO has asked Phil Querin to review MHCO Forms, make appropriate edits and create any necessary new forms – and a follow up article.  MHCO hopes to have the forms and article uploaded to the web site (MHCO.ORG) later this week.

Mark Busch Article on 2020 Special Session Changes

 

Eviction Moratorium Extended

By Mark Busch

(This article is informational only, and is not intended as legal advice.  Always consult with a competent attorney before undertaking any legal action.)

 

In its special session, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation extending the state’s eviction moratorium through September 30, 2020.  House Bill 4213 prohibits residential and commercial evictions based on nonpayment of rent or other charges owed to the landlord, and further prohibits no-cause evictions against residential tenants.  Late fees are also waived for both residential and commercial tenants throughout the emergency period (April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020).

 

For residential tenancies, HB 4213 prohibits landlords from issuing ANY nonpayment notices for rent, utility charges, or other service charges or fees owed to the landlord, and prohibits issuing any no-cause eviction notices. Residential landlords are also prohibited from filing any nonpayment or no-cause eviction cases in court. Commercial landlords cannot issue nonpayment notices to their tenants or file nonpayment eviction cases in court. Landlords may still pursue for-cause evictions based on anything other than nonpayment. (Note: Landlords are also prohibited from reporting a tenant’s nonpayment balance as delinquent to any consumer credit reporting agency.)

 

There is no requirement for tenants to provide any proof of their inability to pay during the emergency period.  Rent and other charges owed to the landlord are automatically suspended if the tenant cannot or simply does not pay.  However, both residential and commercial tenants are still ultimately responsible for rent and other charges that accrue during the emergency period (except late fees). 

 

HB 4213 establishes a 6-month grace period following the emergency period for tenants to pay their outstanding nonpayment balances to the landlord by March 31, 2021.  Following the emergency period, landlords can issue a written notice to tenants informing them of the 6-month repayment period, the balance due, and requiring them to respond within 14 days with either payment or with notice that they intend to pay by the end of the 6-month grace period.  Tenants who fail to respond at all can be penalized with damages payable to the landlord equal to 50% of one month’s rent following the grace period.

 

Beginning October 1, 2020, tenants will be responsible for making their regular rent payments and other payments owed to the landlord under the rental agreement. Landlords can also begin issuing nonpayment notices after that date, but only for amounts that come due AFTER the emergency period ends.  Landlords cannot issue nonpayment notices or evict tenants based on their nonpayment balance that accrued during the emergency period.  If a tenant fails to pay the nonpayment balance by the end of the grace period, the landlord will need to file suit (small claims or otherwise) to recover that amount.  Landlords who violate HB 4213 can be sued for injunctive relief, actual damages, three months’ rent, attorney fees, and court costs.

 

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