What is Oregon’s New COVID-19 Commercial Eviction Law and When Does It Take Effect?
- The new law takes effect immediately and replaces the Governor’s Executive Order 20-13.
- Bans certain notices and evictions for nonpayment of rent, late charges, utility or service charges or any other charge or fees that comes due between April 1 – Sep 30, 2020 (the “Emergency Period”).
- Creates a 6 month “grace period” (Sep 30 – March 31) where tenants can catch up on rent and other charges that were unpaid during the Emergency Period without being evicted.
- Gives tenants right to possession, actual damages and three mos. rent for landlord violations.
- Law is repealed in its entirety March 31, 2021
What Notices and Evictions are Prohibited Under the New Law?
- Notices of termination or evictions for nonpayment of rent, late charges, utility or service charges or any other charge or fees that came due between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020.
What Notices are Allowed During the Emergency Period?
- A notice during the Emergency Period to a tenant letting them know that they owe you rent so long as the notice also states that no eviction for nonpayment of rent is allowed until after September 30.
What Else Does the Law Prohibit with Respect to Nonpayment?
- Landlords may not assess a late fee or any other penalty on a tenant’s nonpayment balance that accrues from April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.
- Landlords may not take any action that would interfere with a tenant’s possession or use of a rental unit based on a tenant’s nonpayment.
How Does the Grace Period Work?
- Following the emergency period, a tenant with an outstanding nonpayment balance has a six-month grace period that ends on March 31, 2021, to pay the outstanding nonpayment balance.
- If landlord provides tenant a notice after the Emergency Period as described below, the tenant must give the landlord notice of intent to use the grace period by the date specified in landlord’s notice (see below). It must be notice in compliance with ORS 91.110 or notice given by electronic means.
- A tenant’s failure to give the landlord notice as described in the previous bullet point entitles the landlord to recover damages equal to 50 percent of one month’s rent following the grace period.
- In a landlord’s post-Emergency Period notice (see below) the landlord may offer an alternate voluntary payment plan but the notice must state that the alternate payment plan is voluntary.
What Should a Notice to Tenant After the Emergency Period Include?
- The date the Emergency Period ended (September 30, 2020)
- That the Landlord may terminate the tenancy for failure to timely pay rents and other payments that come due after the emergency period
- That the nonpayment balance that accrued during the emergency period is still due and must be paid but that the tenant will not owe a late charge for the nonpayment balance
- That the tenant is entitled to a 6 mo grace period ending 03-31-21 to repay the nonpayment balance
- That within a specified date stated in the notice given that is no earlier than 14 days following the delivery of the notice, the tenant must pay the nonpayment balance or notify the landlord that the tenant intends to pay the nonpayment balance by the end of the six-month grace period
- That failure of a tenant to give notice to the landlord of utilization of the grace period may result in a penalty of one half of one month’s rent owed by the tenant to the landlord
- That rents and other charges or fees that come due after the emergency period must be paid as usual or the landlord may terminate the tenancy
- The notice may include an alternate voluntary payment plan but the notice must state that the alternate payment plan is voluntary
If Notice was Lawfully Issued Prior to the Emergency Period, can a Landlord Pursue Eviction?
- If the notice was for nonpayment that occurred prior to the Emergency Period, yes.
What Are the Penalties if a Landlord Violates Any of These Provisions?
- A tenant may obtain injunctive relief to recover possession or address any other violation and may recover from the landlord an amount up to three months’ periodic rent plus any actual damages.
Even If I’m Allowed to Pursue an Eviction, Will the Courts Be Open to Process it?
- Oregon’s Chief Justice is setting the procedures for the courts. Landlords should check for the latest Chief Justice’s orders here. As of the latest orders on May 15 eviction proceedings can begin on July 1 but only in counties where at least 50 people are able to congregate (Phase 2 Counties). Some discretion is given to local presiding judges. Check with the clerk of your county court.