A new Oregon Senate bill 282 is going to impact landlord tenant issues if it passes so attorney Brad Kraus reviews some of its issues for landlords and property managers.
By Bradley S. Kraus,
Attorney at Law, Warren Allen, LLP
As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As we continue into year two of COVID-19 related rules, restrictions, and issues, landlords and tenants are still struggling.
Unpaid mortgages, rent, and bills continue to accumulate. Assistance is still lagging, failing to reach those landlords and tenants who felt the most impact. As of this writing, the Landlord Compensation Fund still has not commenced round two of its funding application process. Even still, the Oregon legislature is in the process of passing new legislation that will affect landlord/tenant relations—this time in the form of Senate Bill 282.
While Oregon SB 282 has yet to pass, in its current form—and much in line with the statement above—SB 282 contains more of the same. It extends the grace period for the repayment of amounts that accrued during the applicable grace period of April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 until February 28, 2022. This means that unpaid amounts that accrued over the past year will not be actionable until next year.
Senate Bill 282 further restricts a prospective landlord’s ability to screen applicants for these unpaid amounts.
It states that when considering an applicant, landlords cannot consider an applicant’s unpaid rent, including rent reflected in judgments or referrals of debt to a collection agency that accrued on or after April 1, 2020 and before March 1, 2022. It also contains the vague and concerning language that landlords cannot consider eviction actions if they are based on “claims” that arose on or after April 1, 2020 and before March 1, 2022. The reason that this is concerning is because even evictions related to violent conduct are technically “claims” that would fall subject to this broad standard. To suggest that a landlord could not consider the fact that an applicant stabbed someone within the above timeframe would be absurd.
SB 282 also contains additional required disclosures that will require landlords to update their forms. More specifically, notices for non-payment of rent will need a disclosure related to the extended grace period and an additional disclosure related to a website containing information on tenant resources. Balance-due notices will also need an update due to the changing grace period. Should SB 282 pass in its current form, landlords should review their materials and procure updates where needed.
Finally, SB 282 also contains prohibitions on a landlord’s enforcement of rules related to unauthorized guests. SB 282 states that a landlord may not enforce a restriction by any means, including terminating the tenancy, if the restriction is based on “the maximum duration of a guest’s stay in the tenancy.” The bill does allow a landlord to screen the guest, if the guest resides in the premises more than 15 days in any 12-month period. The screening may not be based on credit reports or income. Finally, landlords can enter into temporary occupancy agreements with the guests, but that agreement cannot have an ending date earlier than February 28, 2022.
As the calendar turns every month, landlords and tenants continue to fall behind on rent, mortgages, and other payments they have not been able to make due to COVID-related shutdowns.
The Oregon Landlord Compensation Fund is/was intended to resolve those issues, but it remains shuttered due to numerous issues. Rather than address those issues head-on, the legislature hastily crafted—and will likely pass—this bill. SB 282 does not solve the issues brought on by COVID-19; it further kicks those cans down the road. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Brad Kraus is a partner 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 him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-255-8795.