Mark Busch RV Q&A: Covid-19 Eviction Moratoriums and RVs

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Mark L. Busch

Question: Do the state and federal eviction moratoriums apply to RV tenants?  What about short-term guests who are not technically “tenants?”

 

Answer:  Oregon House Bill 4213 prohibits residential evictions (including eviction notices) based on nonpayment of rent or other charges owed to the landlord, and further prohibits no-cause evictions against residential tenants through September 30, 2020.  The federal government through the CDC issued an order placing a nationwide ban on nonpayment residential evictions through December 31, 2020.  (Under both, rent is deferred, not waived, although HB 4213 waives late fees and gives tenants until March 31, 2021 to repay past-due amounts.)

 

Oregon HB 4213 protects tenants from nonpayment and no-cause evictions until September 30, 2020.  After that, the CDC order takes over to protect tenants ifthey submit a sworn declaration to the landlord stating that the tenant:  (1) has used best efforts to obtain all available government housing assistance, (2) does not expect to earn more than $99,000 in 2020, or no more than $198,000 if filing taxes jointly, (3) is unable to pay full rent due to lost income, lost employment, or extraordinary medical expenses, (4) is using best efforts to make timely partial rent payments as circumstances permit, (5) if evicted is likely to become homeless or will need to move to “a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters,” (6) understands that rent, late fees and other lease charges must eventually be paid in full, and (7) understands that after December 31, 2020, the landlord may evict the tenant if past-due payments are not made in full.

 

The bottom line is that RV parks should NOT be issuing anynonpayment notices (i.e., 72-hour rent nonpayment notices or otherwise) or no-cause notices to tenants until at least October, which is when the statewide eviction moratorium under HB 4213 is scheduled to end.  And while I have my doubts about the legality and enforceability of the CDC order, I also recommend that landlords notissue any nonpayment notices until the end of the year ifa tenant submits the required declaration.  There are potential criminal penalties for landlords who violate the CDC order, which together with the cost of litigation make it entirely too risky to ignore.

 

The other issue is whether HB 4213 and the CDC order apply to short-term, “vacation occupants” in an RV park?  The answer is “no.”  In Oregon, “vacation occupants” are not covered by the protections given to “tenants” by HB 4213 and ORS Chapter 90.  The CDC order also exempts properties “rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant as defined under the laws of the State, territorial, tribal, or local jurisdiction.”

 

A “vacation occupant” under Oregon law meansoccupancy in a dwelling unit (which includes an RV rental space), that has all of the following characteristics:  (a) The occupant rents the unit for vacation purposes only, not as a principal residence; (b) the occupant has a principal residence other than at the unit; and (c) the period of authorized occupancy does not exceed 45 days.  So long as your temporary RV park guests fall into this category, they cannot exercise any tenancy-based rights under either state or federal law to avoid being removed from the park for nonpayment.  However, be careful to ensure that your temporary guests actually fit this category, preferably with a written registration agreement specifying that they are, in fact, vacation occupants.

 

As usual, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney before you resume issuing nonpayment or no-cause eviction notices.  Also be sure to check whether your county or local municipality may have enacted a broader moratorium that could cover short-term RV guests.

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