Landlord rights and what is available now that HB 4213 has been approved by the Oregon legislature.
Bradley S. Kraus
Attorney at Law, Warren Allen, LLP
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many inquiries I received from clients can be summarized in one question: “What can I do now?”
For many months, a holding pattern existed, as available options were non-existent, or courts were simply turning matters away, even when a remedy did exist.
As the calendar turned and June gave way to July, I waited to see what the Oregon Legislature would do with regard to landlord/tenant law during the special session. After months of relying on Gov. Kate Brown’s executive orders, the legislature crafted House Bill 4213.
While far from perfect, HB 4213 provides a path forward for some landlords.
One road opened by HB 4213 is the ability to act on pre-COVID-19 rent defaults. HB 4213 revolves around the “emergency period,” a timeframe defined as April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. If a tenant has not paid monies that were due prior to the emergency period, landlords now potentially have a path forward related to those amounts. This requires a bit more nuance and analysis, due to HB 4213’s definitions and payment application; landlords are encouraged to contact their attorneys to discuss those amounts.
Another loophole closed by HB 4213 is the ability to file eviction actions on a tenant’s no-cause notice of termination. Gov. Brown’s executive order swept up the entirety of ORS 90.427 in its prohibitions. That statute includes both landlord’s and tenant’s no-cause notices. This left many landlords with tenants holding over simply because nothing could be done to force them to comply with their own notice. Thanks to HB 4213, that issue is now clear.
Many landlords were caught in limbo as their court proceedings came to a crashing halt when eviction moratoriums went into effect. Many eviction actions that resulted in payment agreements were paused, with landlords not able to act on defaults of the same. With the removal of Executive Order 20-13, a default for an amount not covered by the emergency period can now be acted upon with a declaration of non-compliance. Courts differ in how quickly they are acting on such filings—and how quickly they are setting hearings, should a tenant request one. Unlike before, however, a path forward does exist.
Other court cases—in more advanced stages held in limbo by executive orders—are also now moving forward. For example, if a landlord had filed a declaration of non-compliance on a court payment agreement, or had a judgment of restitution in their favor, court proceedings or the ability to enforce these judgments were paused and pushed out. While technical, a path forward now likely exists for both. However, judgments can—and do—go stale. Keep in mind that ORS 105.159 prevents a clerk from issuing a writ on a judgment over 60 days old. If you have such a case—with a judgment in hand—seeking counsel to file a motion to procure an amended judgment of restitution may be necessary to finalize your move toward possession.
From a legal perspective, HB 4213 opens doors that were otherwise previously closed. Many roadblocks still exist though, and HB 4213 adds yet another punitive damages provision of three months’ rent.
Procuring counsel to explore your landlord rights and remedies is always important, but more so in today’s difficult climate.
About the author:
Brad Kraus is an attorney at Warren Allen LLP. His primary practice area is landlord/tenant law, but he also assists clients with various litigation matters, probate matters, real estate disputes, and family law matters. A native of New Ulm, Minnesota, he continues to root for Minnesota sports teams in his free time. You can reach Mr. Kraus via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 503-255-8795.