The Oregon Legislature adjourned the First Special Session of 2020 on Friday, June 26. The Government Affairs Key Committee and staff have remained actively engaged with the Governor’s office leading into the session, and advocated to shape legislation with impacts on Oregon REALTORS® and their clients. In the face of an inevitable extension of the Governor’s executive order banning evictions, OAR recognized the need for targeted requests for amendments by the legislature. The introduced version of one bill in particular, House Bill 4213, would have disrupted many real estate transactions, and REALTOR® advocacy resulted in key improvements to the bill.
In contrast to the open-ended nature of the Governor’s executive order and potential extensions, House Bill 4213 statutorily extends bans on both commercial and residential evictions for three months, until September 30, 2020. Until that date, evictions for nonpayment of rent are forbidden statewide. The bill creates a six-month grace period for tenants to repay unpaid rent accrued during the emergency period. Any balance of unpaid rent and other charges amassed between April 1 and September 30 must be paid in full by March 31, 2021, and tenants are still required to pay rent as it comes due after September 30. Of importance, the bill requires tenants to notify the landlord that they intend to utilize the grace period.
A key amendment REALTORS® championed allows a landlord to issue a 90-day notice of termination when a tenant-occupied property is being sold to a buyer who intends to occupy it as their primary residence. This was the law prior to the Governor’s eviction ban, and this targeted exemption was pursued after gathering member feedback through OAR’s Legal Hotline during the emergency period. In addition, 30-day no-cause terminations for tenants in the first year of occupancy will be allowed on October 1.
REALTORS® supported other changes that improved the original bill as well. Landlords now can pursue evictions for nonpayment that occurred prior to April 1 and the statute of limitations will be paused so that landlords can pursue claims once the moratorium and grace period are over.
House Bill 4213 is heading to the Governor to be signed into law. For a full summary of the bill and frequently asked questions, click here.
The eviction ban wasn’t the only new law passed last week. Others include:
Remote Online Notary (RON) – House Bill 4212
Part of the largest omnibus bill of the session, OAR advocated for passage of remote notary provisions to protect and enhance a REALTOR’S® ability to facilitate transactions with minimal in-person contact. This bill allows notaries public to perform notarial acts remotely with specific certification and security requirements and allows them to charge up to $25 per remote notarial act. A full explanation of the contents of the bill is available here.
Foreclosures – House Bill 4204
This bill extends a moratorium on foreclosure activities across all lenders for residential and commercial property until after September 30. It accomplishes this by prohibiting lenders from treating missing installment payments by borrowers as a default. Read more here and note the -4 amendment was the only one adopted into the final version of the bill. The bill was ultimately supported by some members of the lending community and commercial property owners.
Rural Broadband – Senate Bill 1603
This bill aims to improve access to broadband internet in rural areas of Oregon. It accomplishes this by tasking Business Oregon with distributing publicly funded grants and loans to service providers operating in rural areas. Such grants and loans will assist eligible applicants with projects for the planning and development of broadband service infrastructure, with preference given to projects that will serve schools, libraries, and residential customers in unserved and underserved areas. Senate Bill 1603 expands funding for broadband infrastructure by lowering the rate, but broadening the base, of the “universal service surcharge” fee on phone services to now include cell phones. Oregon REALTORS® will remain engaged to ensure the bill results in improved broadband telecommunications infrastructure and service throughout the state as promised.
The legislature is expected to convene again later this Summer. REALTORS® will be there to continue to advocate on behalf of our members.