In Oregon, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Oregon varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Oregon law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Oregon
Landlord Responsibilities. Every rental unit in Oregon must meet the state’s standards for livability, as detailed in the state’s warranty of habitability. These standards generally dictate which essential amenities must be provided to every unit, as well as the condition in which those amenities must be maintained over the course of a lease agreement. Those essential amenities include the following:
- Waterproofed and weatherproofed walls, floors, and roofs
- Doors and windows that seal properly
- Clean and safe common areas
- Safe electric wiring, outlets, and fixtures
- Adequate plumbing
- Proper sanitary facilities
- In-unit heating and air-conditioning
- Adequate ventilation
- A garbage receptacle and routine garbage removal services
- A reasonable supply of hot and cold water
- Carbon monoxide detector (for units with a potential carbon monoxide source)
Oregon tenants may, at any time during the course of their lease, request a repair to any of the amenities listed above or provided to them in the terms of their lease. Upon receiving this kind of request, an Oregon landlord must perform all of the repairs requested in a timely manner so that the issue does not become worse or impact the unit’s statutory habitability. If they fail to act swiftly, an affected tenant may use this dereliction of duty as a justification for breaking off their lease or taking alternative action against their landlord.
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in Oregon are required to undertake certain responsibilities, regardless of their lease terms. This includes an obligation to keep their rented unit clean and free of hazards that would put the unit itself or other tenants at risk for physical harm.
If an Oregon landlord notices that this responsibility is not being upheld, they may issue notice of their findings and require that the tenant cure their behavior within 14 days. Failure to meet the terms of this kind of notice may be grounds for eviction, often within 30 days of the original notice’s receipt.
Oregon’s landlord-tenant laws also empower tenants to take to important forms of alternative action against their landlord. Specifically, when a landlord fails to meet their legal obligations to provide a habitable living space, an Oregon tenant may choose to withhold rent entirely until the issues at hand are addressed. Alternatively, if a landlord refuses to make a necessary repair, an Oregon tenant may choose to perform the repair on their own and deduct the associated cost from their next rent payment.
Evictions in Oregon
While eviction is generally considered a last resort option for Oregon landlords, they are permitted to use it as a punitive measure in the following circumstances:
- Nonpayment of rent – Oregon maintains a statewide “grace period” that allows rent to be paid by a tenant at any point within the first 7 days after its due date without penalty. However, after this grace period ends, an Oregon landlord may request prompt payment of rent in the form of a 72-Hour Notice to Pay Rent. Alternatively, an Oregon landlord may opt to institute a 5 day grace period, after which they may issue a 144-Hour Notice to Pay Rent. In either case, the full amount of outstanding rent must be paid by the end of the notice period or the tenant in question may face eviction.
- Violation of lease terms – If an Oregon landlord discovers that one of their tenants has violated one or more terms of their lease agreement, they may require them to change their behavior or actions going forward by issuing a 30-Day Notice to Cure. This notice must identify which lease terms were violated as well as how the tenant can cure their behavior within the next 14 days. If those terms are not met, then the landlord can enforce an eviction order 30 days after the original notice was issued.
- Illegal Acts – Certain illegal acts empower an Oregon landlord to seek a 24-Unconditional to Quit. These illegal acts (as well as any outlined in the applicable lease agreement) include:
- Allowing a pet to threaten or harm another tenant on the property
- Making, distributing, or using a controlled substance
- Falsifying documentation relating to illegal activity in the past year
- Acts of prostitution on the property
Evictions without a lease. Oregon tenants who rent from a landlord without entering into a written or oral lease agreement do not maintain all of the same rights as their leased counterparts. Even so, these “at-will” tenants maintain many of their basic tenant rights. This includes an entitlement to receive a 30 day notice in advance of a date at which their landlord wishes for them to move out without cause.
Illegal Evictions. Oregon tenants cannot be evicted on retaliatory grounds. As such, a tenant in this state cannot be forced to move out because they lodge a legal claim against their landlord, report their inadequate habitability conditions to a regulatory authority, or join a tenant advocacy organization. Discriminatory evictions are also prohibited under Oregon law, including against any of the several state or federal protected classes of tenants.
Security Deposits in Oregon
Oregon’s current landlord-tenant code requires landlords to abide by these following regulations when it comes to collecting, maintaining, and redistributing their tenant’s security deposits:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Oregon does not currently limit landlords operating in their state when it comes to how much they can charge for a security deposit. This lack of a standard limit or a maximum amount means that Oregon landlords are even able to set security deposit rates that are not relative to their tenants rent rates (as is common in other states).
- Interest and Maintenance – Oregon’s current landlord-tenant laws do not address how security deposits must be maintained. Also, they do not specify if interest must accrue on held security deposits or how said interest must be redistributed to tenants. As such, Oregon landlords are free to maintain their collected security deposits in any kind of account and may keep any interest that develops from those deposits for themselves.
- Time Limit for Return – Landlords in Oregon are required to return any security deposits owed to a tenant (minus any necessary deductions) within 31 days of their tenancy ceasing. These returned funds must also come with an itemized list that explains the specific reasons for each deduction made (if any).
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If an Oregon landlord fails to return a tenant’s security deposit within the mandated time frame or withholds part of the same deposit in bad faith, they may be required to pay a fine to their tenant equal to twice the value of the original deposit.
- Allowable Deductions – Landlords in Oregon are allowed to make security deposit deductions for a number of specific reasons, including the standard deductions for unpaid rent and repair costs. However, Oregon landlords are also able to make deductions to offset the cost of labor associated with post-move out cleaning, as well as any kind of carpet cleaning that goes beyond the capabilities of a standard vacuum cleaner.
Lease Termination in Oregon
Notice Requirements. While tenants in Oregon who are signed onto a fixed end date lease are not required to provide notice in advance of their move out, these following types of periodic tenants are required to provide written notice commensurate with the length of their lease:
- Month-to-Month lease of less than 1 year – 30 days of advance notice
- Month-to-Month lease of more than 1 year – 60 days of advance notice
- Yearly lease with no end date – 60 days of advance notice
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. Tenants in Oregon should take advantage of any early termination clause written into their lease if one is available to them and they need to break off their lease early. However, tenants who are not eligible to take advantage of this type of provision may still be able to break off their lease early using one of these following legally-protected rationales:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – Oregon landlords are required to keep their rental units in a habitable condition at all times by following all relevant local housing codes as well as the state’s warranty of habitability. If an Oregon landlord fails to meet these livability standards, their tenants may request an immediate lease termination on health or safety grounds. This option is usually only available after all other channels of resolution have been exhausted.
- Landlord Harassment – Oregon landlords are legally required to provide their tenants with at least 24 hours of notice before they are able to enter their occupied unit. In addition, a landlord in Oregon must disclose their reason for entry as well as the identity of the individual who will actually enter the unit. If any of these requirements are not routinely fulfilled, then the affected tenant may request a lease termination due to the ongoing invasion of their privacy.
- Domestic Violence – If an Oregon tenant or their immediate family member provides documentation of their status as a domestic violence victim, they may request an immediate lease termination without any further conditions. However, this kind of request must also be accompanied by a 14 day notice period before the request itself can be honored.
Oregon landlords are also legally required to help a tenant re-rent their unit following an early lease termination. As such, an Oregon tenant who would otherwise be forced to continue paying rent for their former unit may be able to pass on this obligation pay with the assistance of their landlord.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Oregon
Rent control & increases. Since 2019, Oregon has been one of the only US states to maintain statewide rent control as a matter of public policy. This law prohibits landlords from raising rent prices more than 7% annually, except on units that are less than 15 years old. More information about this law can be found here. However, its application is also complimented by existing laws which require all Oregon landlords to provide 30 days of notice in advance of any rent price increase.
Rent related fees. Oregon landlords have three options when it comes to charging a fee to a tenant who is more than 5 days late on paying rent. If that landlord charges a flat rate, it must be a one-time occurrence and must be “reasonable” in value according to the local rental market. However, if a landlord in Oregon charges a daily fee, it cannot be valued at more than 6% of the original flat rate fee. Finally, a fee equivalent to 5% of the missing rent’s value can be charged every 5 days as necessary.
Other fee rates are a bit more cut and dry under Oregon’s statutory code. For example, Oregon landlords can only charge a $35 fee per instance of a returned check. However, this same landlord may also pass the cost of processing said dishonored check onto their tenant as well.
Housing Discrimination in Oregon
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. In addition to the protected classes set forth in the federal Fair Housing Act, Oregon civil law rights laws establishes a few supplementary protected classes with regards to housing. To that end, Oregon prohibits landlords from explicitly or implicitly discriminating against current or prospective tenants based upon their marital status, source of income, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division is tasked with administering many of the state’s civil rights laws, including those pertaining to the fair treatment of tenants. As such, tenants across the state that have felt victimized by any of the following discriminatory business practices may report their experiences through their online submission platform:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or negotiate housing after the receipt of a bona fide offer
- Falsely denying the availability of housing for inspection, sale, or rental
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges between tenants
- “Steering” tenants towards or away from certain units or neighborhoods
- Advertising the sale or rental of a dwelling in a manner that indicates a discriminatory preference
- Failing to make a reasonable accommodation
To initiate this reporting process, an Oregon tenant must submit a digital questionnaire that helps the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division narrow down the scope of their complaint. From there, the Bureau initiates an investigation that may lead to a series of hearings involving the tenant’s landlord. Depending on the severity of the case, this process may result in a judicial ruling that will carry case-specific penalties.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Oregon
Be sure to take some time to review these next several Oregon landlord-tenant laws before you sign onto a new lease agreement so that you fully understand each party’s legal rights and responsibilities:
Landlord Entry. When an Oregon landlord intends to enter a tenant’s unit, they must provide that tenant with 24 hours of advance notice. Also, this same landlord must specify who will be entering the unit, as well as what time and a date that individual intends on arriving. This standard applies to most standard situations, including when that Oregon landlord wishes to show that unit to a prospective renter or needs to make a necessary repair.
However, Oregon landlords are legally permitted to enter a tenant’s unit without permission or notice under one circumstance. Specifically, if an emergency situation threatens a tenant’s well-being, then that tenant may enter immediately to inform the inhabitants of the apparent danger.
Small Claims Court. Oregon maintains a fairly de-centralized small claims court system. As such, each of the state’s numerous counties maintains its own small claims court with different limits when it comes to case value. However, the state-mandated average remains at $10,000 on this front. Also, each court handles eviction cases differently. Landlords or tenants in Oregon who wish to file a small claims case should contact their local civil court to learn more about their area’s process and limitations on filing.
Mandatory Disclosures. In Oregon, landlords are required to disclose the following pieces of information to their tenants, either within the language of their lease agreement or in a separate written agreement:
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more.
- Managers and Agents. Oregon landlords must disclose the names and addresses for all owners for their tenant’s property. This disclosure must also include names and addresses for all individuals who are allowed to work as managers on that owner’s behalf.
- 100 Year Floodplain. If an Oregon tenant’s dwelling lays within a 100-year floodplain, then their landlord must inform them of their positioning accordingly.
- Smoking Policy. All landlords in Oregon must clearly disclose their smoking policy, including what areas (if any) may be permissibly used for smoking.
Changing the Locks. An Oregon tenant may request a lock change from their landlord if they provide proof that they have recently been a victim of domestic abuse. However, this kind of unit modification can only be made if the tenant in question is willing to pay for it.
When it comes to landlords, however, Oregon’s only law governing their ability to change a tenant’s locks is a prohibition of lockouts. As such, it can be inferred that Oregon landlords are not allowed to unilaterally change a tenant’s locks under any circumstances.
Local Laws in Oregon
Landlord tenant rights are not exclusively governed by state law. Cities and counties may enact their own rules and regulations for renters.
Portland Landlord Tenant Rights
The city of Portland maintains a Mandatory Renter Relocation Assistance program that covers the majority of renters living within city limits. This program requires landlords to pay out certain amounts of money to help renters move out and find new housing if they are being evicted without cause or due to a rent increase of 10% or higher (among other reasons). More information about this program and other local ordinances can be found on the city’s website.
Eugene Landlord Tenant Rights
The city of Eugene maintains a city-wide rental housing habitability code that exceeds the standards set by the state. This code includes specialized definitions that are used to appraise whether or not a landlord has met their legal obligations for providing livable housing. These definitions and the full housing code can be found on the city’s website.