The Oregon Legislature extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic, but tenants and homeowners are required to take certain steps to protect themselves
In June Oregon legislators met during an emergency session aimed, in part, at providing additional relief to Oregonians who are suffering financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Among the 22 bills passed were House Bill 4213, which essentially bans residential and commercial evictions during the pandemic due to inability to pay, and House Bill 4204, which stops foreclosures due to an inability to pay.
Here’s what these new rules mean, along with resources to help.
Do I still have to pay my rent?
The new law does not forgive past-due rent, utilities, late fees or other charges; it only defers repayment of April 1–Sept. 30 debts until April 1, 2021, at the latest. This is assuming that another repayment agreement is not in place.
Unlike in Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s previous executive order, tenants are no longer required to notify their landlord of an inability to pay rent. Mandatory full or partial payments based on “financial ability” are also no longer required.
However, starting Oct. 1, tenants must notify their landlord if they plan to take advantage of the six-month grace period to repay debts from April 1 through Sept. 30. Failure to do so can result in the addition of 50% of one month’s rent and other charges to the total amount due, all of which must be repaid by April 1.
Can I still be evicted?
The moratorium on evictions protects tenants from being evicted only due to nonpayment of rent, utilities and other fees; and it protects tenants from evictions without cause — this includes evictions to make way for new development. At any time, landlords can still evict tenants for rental agreement violations that are unrelated to non-payment of rent and other charges. And they can still give tenants an eviction notice if the house is sold to a new owner who plans to move in.
What can landlords do?
Until Sept. 30:
- Notify tenants back rent is still due.
- Evict tenants for cause if unrelated to non-payment of rent, utilities or service fees.
After Sept. 30:
- Send a letter requesting debt repayment or a notification from the tenant about their intent to use the six-month grace period.
- Offer a voluntary alternate repayment plan.
- Evict tenants who don’t pay rent and other charges on time going forward.
Until April 1, 2021, landlords must apply any payments received in the following order:
- Rent for the current rental period.
- Utility or service charges.
- Late rent payment charges.
- Fees or charges the tenant owes under ORS 90.302 or other fees or charges related to damage claims or other claims against the tenant.
What can’t landlords do (or threaten to do)?
Until Sept. 30:
- Evict or threaten to evict tenants without cause.
Until April 1, 2021:
- Evict or threaten to evict tenants for not paying rent, utilities, fees, etc., from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2020.
- Report tenants to credit bureaus for not paying rent, utilities, fees, etc., from April 1 through Sept. 30.
- Charge late fees for not paying rent, utilities, fees, etc., from April 1 through Sept. 30.
What if I’ve already come to a separate agreement with my landlord about repayment?
If renters sign a lease amendment or agree to terms that are more generous than what HB 4213 provides — if your landlord forgives a portion of your rent or allows you to repay past-due rent after March 31, 2021, for instance — the more generous agreement should stand.
According to the law, less generous agreements will be overridden by the new rules, but it’s possible this will be challenged in court.
What if I can’t pay my mortgage?
The passage of House Bill 4204 essentially prohibits any commercial or residential foreclosures by real estate lenders until Oct. 1 at the earliest.
As long as a borrower notifies their lender that they are unable to make payments due to COVID-19, payments due from March 8 through Sept. 30 can be deferred until the end of the loan. Lenders cannot charge any late fees, attorney fees or additional interest related to the deferred payments.