The Oregon rental application form is a document used to collect personal and financial information relating to potential tenancy. The information is used by landlords and listing agents for background screening purposes which help inform the decision of whether or not to rent to the applicant.
- Application Fee – Landlords in Oregon are limited to charging an application fee that is no greater than the actual average cost of the screening process. It should include a receipt. However, it cannot be charged unless certain criteria are met.
- Discrimination Laws – Oregon offers specific state protections against discrimination in addition to federal law. Oregon protects race, color, religion, nationality, gender identity, disabilities, and more (with some exceptions).
- Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a prospective tenant to give written consent to check their credit history during the screening process.
Oregon Rental Application Laws
The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of Oregon.
Collecting an Application Fee in Oregon
Oregon does not allow application fees charged to exceed the average actual cost of completing the screening process itself, which can include professional fees or the time spent completing the screening manually. A receipt should be provided as well as a copy of the background check upon determination according to Fair Credit Report Act guidelines.
However, the landlord or agent must meet the following criteria to be able to charge an application fee:
- Disclose the cost, method, and criteria of the screening
- Provide an estimate of similar units for rent as well as pending application estimates
- Disclose whether renter’s insurance is required and how much rent and the security deposit will be.
Landlords must refund application fees if they deny screening of the applicant or fill the vacancy before completing a screening.
Illegal Housing Discrimination in Oregon
Federal and state laws are in effect in Oregon to protect potential renters from unfair discrimination during the application process.
Fair Housing Act
The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:
- National Origin (Nationality)
- Familial Status (having or not having children)
- Disability (Physical or Mental)
As a result, asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not allowed.
Oregon Fair Housing Laws
Additionally, Oregon state law adds additional protections for the following classes:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
- Source of Income (Public and/or Rental Assistance)
These criteria may not be asked about in writing or in person, and may not be used in the consideration of a rental application.
Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws
Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Oregon, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises in any of the below cases:
- Two-family owner-occupied buildings.
- Housing for Older Persons Exemption – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
- Mrs. Murphy Exemption – dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866
- Sex/Sexual Orientation – the laws against discrimination against sex or sexual orientation do not apply in the cases of a single-family residence where the owner is an occupant and the occupants share a common area.
- Religious Organizations – religion can be used as a basis for giving preference to certain applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial purposes. However, other protected classes may not be the basis for making a decision as a result of this exemption. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
- Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent may provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence on the choice of whether to rent to an applicant or not regardless of existing exemptions.
Consent for Credit Checks
Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself, or via a separate consent form (example template).
Oregon Security Deposit Law
If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in Oregon:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: There is no limit to what an Oregon landlord can charge as a security deposit.
- Receipt Requirements: Landlords in Oregon are required to provide a receipt for a security deposit and must include this amount in the lease agreement.
- Financial Holdings: There are no specified holding requirements for security deposits.
Sending Rental Application Forms
Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:
- Manually – using the PDF and Word templates available for free on our website (see the top right of this webpage), landlords can send a rental application form to tenants via a physical copy or email.
- With Software – most popular property management software services include an online rental application form that can automate the collection and screening process for landlords.
For reviews of popular property management software, click here.
Processing a Rental Application
The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:
- Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
- Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
- Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.
Oregon Eviction Record Search
Evictions are publicly accessible through Oregon’s online record searching system, which allows landlords and agents to complete their own screening for evictions as an alternative to using a paid service.
To access the eviction records:
- Visit the Oregon Judicial Department Online Records Search.
- Select Smart Search at the bottom of the page.
- Enter the applicant’s name and complete the captcha to continue.
- Click ‘Submit’ and any cases involving the applicant will pop up.
- Select the case number to be taken to the case details.
Responding to Rental Applications
If an applicant meets all of your tenant screening criteria, then there’s nothing you need to do beyond notifying them and moving forward with the normal leasing process.
However, if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e. credit, eviction or criminal history) and you make an “adverse action” against them (EVEN IF the report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for doing so), you are required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”.
An adverse action is defined as either rejecting the applicant or instituting additional/higher requirements than you have for another applicant (i.e. requiring a co-signer, larger security deposit, higher rent or an additional deposit).
In these cases, an adverse action notice is required to be sent to the applicant, and must include the following:
- The agency’s name, address and phone number that supplied the report.
- A statement explaining that the CRA didn’t make the decision for the adverse action themselves, and as a result, that they can’t explain why the decision was made.
- A statement explaining the applicant’s right to dispute such information and their right to a copy of the report in question within 60 days.
To learn more about requirements surrounding adverse action notices, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission. To get an idea of what an adverse action notice might look like, see this example letter.
Additionally, to protect against accusations of illegal discrimination, it is always recommended to include the exact reason why the application was not approved in the rejection letter.