Written by Bill Miner and Blake Robinson - Davis, Wright, Tremaine
On June 30, 2020, Governor Brown signed into law HB 4213, a new moratorium on certain evictions. A copy of the law is available here:https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2020S1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB4213. The law was set to expire on September 30, 2020. Yesterday, the Governor extended the moratorium on residential evictions to December 31, 2020. https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Documents/executive_orders/eo_20-56.pdf
The law, together with the Governor’s order, creates an “emergency period” from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. During the emergency period, a landlord cannot: (1) send an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent or file an eviction based on nonpayment of rent, (2) send a no cause eviction notice or file a no cause eviction, (3) assess a late fee, or (4) report a nonpayment balance as delinquent to a credit bureau. These prohibitions cover the period April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, so a landlord could, for example, still report to a credit bureau delinquencies for failing to pay February 2020 rent.
Once the emergency period ends (i.e. beginning January 1, 2021), a landlord can send an eviction notice and file an eviction action for nonpayment of obligations that accrued after the emergency period ended—i.e., if a tenant fails to pay January 2021 rent, the landlord can send a nonpayment notice, and if the notice isn’t cured, file an eviction. Similarly, beginning January 1, 2021, a landlord can send a no cause eviction notice.
However, a landlord still cannot send an eviction notice or file an eviction for failure to pay rent for the months April through December 2021 (i.e., the emergency period months). A tenant still has until March 31, 2021 to make those payments (the 6 month limit contained in HB 4213 was not extended by the Governor’s new order). A landlord can send an eviction notice on April 1, 2021 if any of those payments have not yet been made. Additionally, a landlord has the option of sending the tenant a written notice on or after January 1, 2021 stating that:
(1) the emergency period has ended,
(2) the landlord can terminate the tenancy if the tenant doesn’t pay rent that comes due after the emergency period ends (e.g., January, 2021 rent),
(3) the nonpayment balance from the emergency period is still owed and must be paid,
(4) the tenant won’t owe a late fee for the nonpayment balance,
(5) the tenant has a grace period until March 31, 2021 to pay the nonpayment balance,
(6) within 14 days (or a longer period) the tenant must pay the nonpayment balance or tell the landlord that he/she intends to pay the balance by March 31, 2021,
(7) if the tenant fails to provide timely notice of intent to pay the balance then the tenant could be liable for damages equal to 50% of one month’s rent following the grace period, and (8) the landlord can terminate the tenancy if the tenant doesn’t pay rents or other charges or fees that come due after the moratorium (i.e. beginning January 1, 2021).
If the landlord gives the 14-day notice containing all of the information in (1) through (7) and the tenant doesn’t, within the 14-day period, pay or state an intention to pay the balance, then the landlord is entitled to damages equal to 50% of one month’s rent.
Any payments the tenant makes after the emergency period ends are applied in the following order:
(1) rent for the current rental period,
(2) utility or service charges,
(3) late payment charges,
(4) fees assessed under ORS 90.302 or other fees or charges related to damage claims
(5) the nonpayment balance that accrued during the moratorium.
If the landlord violates this law, the tenant can receive injunctive relief (e.g. an award of possession of the premises if he/she has been evicted from the premises) and up to 3 months’ rent as statutory damages, plus actual damages.
Nothing in the law prohibits the landlord from sending reminder notices to the tenant regarding how much is accruing; however, you must avoid making any threats of eviction or termination of the tenancy. Nothing in the law prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy for cause.