Complaints to Landlord/Gov’t About Legal Violations
Good-Faith Complaints to Landlord About Tenancy
Participating in a Tenant Organization
Winning/Testifying in Court Cases vs. Landlord
Enforcing Lawful Rights
Landlord Retaliatory Actions
Filing/Threatening Eviction or Lawsuit
Penalties for Retaliation
Get Court Injunction
Sue for 2x Rent or 2x Damages
When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in Oregon?
It’s illegal for Oregon landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions:
Complaining to the landlord or the government about legal violations related to the rental property.
Complaining to the landlord in good faith about issues related to the tenancy.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Testifying in a court case against the landlord.
Winning a court case against the landlord (except on technicalities related to notice requirements), within the last six months.
Pursuing rights or remedies given by the law or lease.
The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax can still evict if a tenant refuses to pay the rent.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in Oregon?
Oregon tenants can respond to landlord retaliation bysuing for quiet enjoyment of the property.The tenant might also end the rental agreement or get an injunction against the landlord to prevent further retaliation. In either case, the tenant can recover double the monthly rent or double actual damages (whichever is greater), plus attorney fees.
“Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services, by serving a notice to terminate the tenancy or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after: (a) The tenant has complained to, or expressed to the landlord in writing an intention to complain to, a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of any of the following concerning a violation applicable to the tenancy: (A) A building, health or housing code materially affecting health or safety; (B) Laws or regulations concerning the delivery of mail; or (C) Laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination in rental housing; (b) The tenant has made any complaint to the landlord that is in good faith and related to the tenancy; (c) The tenant has organized or become a member of a tenants’ union or similar organization.”
“Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services, by serving a notice to terminate the tenancy or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after: (d) The tenant has testified against the landlord in any judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding; (e) The tenant successfully defended an action for possession brought by the landlord within the previous six months except if the tenant was successful in defending the action only because: (A) The termination notice by the landlord was not served or delivered in the manner required by ORS 90.155 (Service or delivery of written notice); or (B) The period provided by the termination notice was less than that required by the statute upon which the notice relied to terminate the tenancy; or (f) The tenant has performed or expressed intent to perform any other act for the purpose of asserting, protecting or invoking the protection of any right secured to tenants under any federal, state or local law.”
“As used in subsection (1) of this section, “decreasing services” includes: (a) Unreasonably restricting the availability of or placing unreasonable burdens on the use of common areas or facilities by tenant associations or tenants meeting to establish a tenant organization; and (b) Intentionally and unreasonably interfering with and substantially impairing the enjoyment or use of the premises by the tenant.”
“Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (3) of this section, a landlord may bring an action for possession if: (a) The complaint by the tenant was made to the landlord or an agent of the landlord in an unreasonable manner or at an unreasonable time or was repeated in a manner having the effect of unreasonably harassing the landlord. A determination whether the manner, time or effect of a complaint was unreasonable shall include consideration of all related circumstances preceding or contemporaneous to the complaint; (b) The violation of the applicable building or housing code was caused primarily by lack of reasonable care by the tenant or other person in the household of the tenant or upon the premises with the consent of the tenant; (c) The tenant was in default in rent at the time of the service of the notice upon which the action is based; or (d) Compliance with the applicable building or housing code requires alteration, remodeling or demolition which would effectively deprive the tenant of use of the dwelling unit.”
“If the landlord acts in violation of subsection (1) of this section the tenant is entitled to the remedies provided in ORS 90.375 (Effect of unlawful ouster or exclusion) [injunction, lease cancellation, and/or monetary award of either 2x rent or 2x actual damages, whichever is greater] and has a defense in any retaliatory action against the tenant for possession.”
“In any action on a rental agreement or arising under this chapter, reasonable attorney fees at trial and on appeal may be awarded to the prevailing party together with costs and necessary disbursements, notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary. As used in this section, ‘prevailing party’ means the party in whose favor final judgment is rendered.”