Senate Bill 608: Landlords Proceed With Caution

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A Portland attorney shares some thoughts and opinions on Senate Bill 608, the rent control bill, moving through the Oregon legislature.
By Brad Kraus
Special to Rental Housing Journal

Currently advancing through the Oregon legislature—with no sign of stopping, and with the votes to pass—is a radical set of amendments to the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act known as Senate Bill 608.

If passed without amendments, Senate Bill 608 will drastically amend ORS 90.427 (the termination statute), ORS 90.323 (the rent-increase statute), and other statutes, thereby fundamentally changing your rights as a landlord.

While it would be impossible to touch on every legal issue presented by the Senate Bill 608’s statutory amendments, there are a couple that deserve your immediate attention:

  • First, Senate Bill 608 will effectively eliminate the ability to serve no-cause notices after the first year of occupancy, unless the landlord has a “qualifying” reason (as detailed in the bill), or the landlord occupies the premises with his/her/their tenant. Even worse, service of a no-cause notice without qualifying for any of the exceptions will (a) trigger statutory penalties, including the payment of three months’ rent to the tenant, and (b) provide the tenant a defense to any eviction action filed pursuant to that no-cause notice.
  • Looking deeper into Senate Bill 608, you’ll see that it applies to “[t]erminations of month-to-month tenancies occurring on or after the 30th day after the effective date of this 2019 act.” As of this writing, it’s unclear when that 30th day will be. Therefore, it may be presently difficult (if not impossible) to determine whether your no-cause notice will trigger the new damages provision imposed by Senate Bill 608.

Senate Bill 608 also will cap rent increases during any 12-month period at seven percent plus the consumer price index above the existing rent

The consumer price index changes periodically, but the amount a landlord may raise rent in excess of the seven percent is chained to the figure published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor in September of the prior calendar year.

Therefore, landlords are capped with the September, 2018 figure throughout 2019. Finally, as of this writing, Senate Bill 608 indicates that the amendments only affect rent-increase notices served on or after the bill’s effective date.

All of the foregoing comments predate the passage of Senate Bill 608 and these are but a few of the drastic changes coming to the Landlord/Tenant Act.

Given the hostility landlords now face in the legislature, you should conduct ample due diligence and seek competent legal advice prior to serving any notices of termination or notices of rent increase.

About the author:

Senate Bill 608: Landlords Proceed With Caution

Bradley Kraus, Portland attorney

Bradley Kraus is an associate at Warren Allen and is a member of the firm’s landlord/tenant practice. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he attended law school and graduated cum laude from Lewis and Clark Law School. Along with landlord/tenant law, Mr. Kraus assists clients in various litigation, probate, and family law matters.

Senate Bill 608: Landlords Proceed With Caution

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