By: April Kusters
The 2019 Oregon Legislature enacted new protections for a large subset of consumers: tenants. These new tenant protections, including SB 608, modify the information in this website’s August 2018 posting “Residential Rental Markets and Portland’s Relocations Assistance Program.” Like many areas of law, it is important to review the legislative session each year for any statutory changes or additions that may make old postings incomplete or outdated. By this time next year, this posting may well be missing pertinent information. Be advised.
For example,, the Portland Relocation Ordinance[i] references in the August 2018 posting remain accurate, however, Oregon’s no cause termination statute has changed and there is now statewide rent control.
No Cause Evictions versus For Cause Evictions: Historically, landlords had broad authority in most tenancies to terminate the tenancy without providing a stated reason or cause so long as the landlord gave proper notice. Under SB 608[ii], which became effective February 28, 2019, if a tenant has occupied their rental housing for one year or more, the landlord may only terminate the tenancy for an approved reason and the termination notice must state the cause for the termination. If the reason for the termination of the tenancy is not due to the conduct of the tenant, for example if the landlord intends to remodel or sell to a buyer who intends to reside in the home, then the landlord must give 90 days notice of termination of the tenancy to the tenant. In addition, if the landlord owns 4 or more units and the cause of the termination is not due to the tenant’s conduct, the landlord must pay relocation assistance in the amount of one month’s rent. If the tenant has occupied the rental unit for less than 1 year, or the landlord is both a roommate and landlord to the tenant, these protections do not apply.
Rent Control: Also under SB 608, during any 12-month period, landlords may not increase the rent more than 7% plus that year’s consumer price index. As an example, for 2019, this combined percentage is 10.3%. Landlords are not subject to this rent increase limitation if the first certificate of occupancy for the unit was issued less than 15 years before the rent increase or if the landlord is providing the until to a tenant as part of any affordable housing program or subsidy.
Sealing FED (Eviction) Records: Of special note to FCRA practitioners and others viewing credit reports, consumers with an Oregon residential eviction on their credit history or background checks records may have the ability to seal those eviction records starting January 1, 2020. Under SB 873[iii], a consumer may move the court to set aside the judgment and seal the official record under the following circumstances:
- The judgment included restitution, the money award has been satisfied and at least 5 years have passed from date of entry of judgment;
- The judgment was made by stipulation of the parties under ORS 105.145 and the consumer/tenant complied with the terms of the agreement and satisfied any money judgment; or
- The judgment was a judgment of dismissal in the tenant’s favor.
Additionally, the court is not allowed to charge a filing fee for the Motion to Set Aside/Seal. Many FED or eviction actions settle at the time of the first appearance. As such, many evictions should be eligible under the bill beginning January 1, 2020.
These new tenant protections are complicated and nuanced. Thankfully the City of Portland has a Rental Services Office[iv] that runs a help line for tenants and landlords and the Oregon State Bar has a downloadable pamphlet[v] and Legal Q & A Videos[vi] on this topic.