Senate Bill 1069 brings the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act a bit more into the 21st Century as it makes changes to written notice, service of final accounting and more.
By Bradley S. Kraus
Attorney at Law
The 2023 legislative session came and went and, much like others before it, particular pieces of legislation received the most fanfare.
This year’s legislative session gave us House Bill 2001, the inequitable effects of which this article series has previously covered. However, in a shocking turn of events, the legislature also passed a separate bill—Senate Bill 1069—which brings the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act a bit more into the 21st Century upon its effective date next year.
It makes changes to written notice, service of final accounting, and the available methods of returning monies for deposit returns and waiver avoidance.
Senate Bill 1069 makes significant changes to the ORLTA’s written-notice statute, ORS 90.155.
Currently, there are only three viable methods of written notice under the ORLTA: personal service, first-class mail, and post-and-mail. Senate Bill 1069 allows the landlord and tenant to agree, after the tenancy begins and the tenant has occupied the premises, to a new method of “email-and-mail” service. Along with the timeline, the addendum must (a) specify the landlord email address from which the landlord agrees to send and receive email, (b) specifies the email address from which the tenant agrees to send and receive email, (c) allow either party to terminate service via email, or to change their email address with no less than 3 days written notice, and (d) contain a specific disclosure discussed in SB 1069. If done correctly, this will allow for service timelines similar to post-and-mail notice timelines.
Return of Monies
Another change to the law, which is long overdue, affects ORS 90.412 with respect to the return of monies. Currently, if a landlord must return monies tendered by the tenant to avoid waiver, the landlord must return that personally to the tenant or via first-class mail. That return can be done with the check the tenant or other third party tendered, or the landlord can write a check. This can present accounting challenges and logistical nightmares that are unnecessary today.
Senate Bill 1069 now allows for a return of money electronically to a bank account or other financial institution designated by the tenant via a written addendum. Like the changes in ORS 90.155, the tenant must agree to receive money electronically after the tenancy begins and the tenant has occupied the premises by way of separate addendum. This change will be a welcome addition, as the current laws are unnecessarily archaic.
Security Deposit Refunds
Finally, SB 1069 makes similar “electronic transmittal” changes to security-deposit obligations. Senate Bill 1069 changes ORS 90.300 to allow for the transmission of required final-accounting documents under ORS 90.300 through email, once the addendum described above is completed.
Similarly, landlords will be allowed to return security-deposit refunds to a designated bank account or other financial institution, assuming a written addendum is in place as described above. This will remove the requirements of a physical check and final accounting being mailed to the tenant post-tenancy and will allow landlords to complete those “post-tenancy obligations” in a more modern way.
Landlords should keep in mind that these changes in the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act do not take affect until January 1, 2024, so they should not implement or use these methods now. However, landlords should prepare for these changes by procuring the appropriate addendums to put in place once the calendar turns.
About the author:
Bradley S. 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. You can reach him at email@example.com or at 503-255-8795.