Here are the 3 new emergency bills that have become law during the 2021 Legislative Session that all Housing Providers NEED TO KNOW, (Click on the Bill to read the full text.)
SB 278 “Safe Harbor” Measure: Prevents landlords from delivering termination notices for nonpayment of rent if tenants have applied for rental assistance, (Emergency measure effective 7/1/2021 and sunsets on 3/1/2022).
- Provides that if a tenant provides a landlord with documentation that the tenant applied for rental assistance, then the landlord may not deliver a termination notice for nonpayment.
- Allows landlords to initiate or continue eviction action 60 days from the time that tenant has delivered documentation of rental assistance application.
- Clarifies court judgement process and court discretion regarding scheduling a first appearance based on landlord and tenant compliance with the provisions of this Act.
- Clarifies that landlord participation in a rental assistance program is not exclusive to the Landlord Compensation Fund.
- Allows tenant to obtain injunctive relief if a landlord fails to comply with notification requirements as provided by this Act.
- Requires the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) to translate the notice form into Spanish, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Chinese languages and to display links to the forms prominently on the OJD main webpage. The measure also requires OJD to prepare a summary of the bill and deliver a copy of the summary to each circuit court for posting at the counter and website.
- Requires the Housing and Community Services Department (HCSD) to provide a dated application receipt for tenants who apply for rent assistance.
- Increases the amount a landlord is eligible for to 100% instead of 80% of funds under the Landlord Compensation Fund. HCSD is directed to make distributions to adjust the compensation for landlords whose applications were approved before the effective date of this Act.
- Provides for a grant to a third party (not HCSD) to make distributions to compensate landlords who have delayed termination notices or evictions under the provisions of this measure. This requirement sunsets on March 1, 2023 (Aligning timeline with extension of grace period for repayment until February 28, 2022).
Witten Disclosure must be given to Tenants who are delinquent on rent prior to filing for eviction:
“THIS IS AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS TO PROTECTION AGAINST EVICTION FOR NONPAYMENT.
“For information in Spanish, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese or Chinese, go to the Judicial Department website at www.courts.oregon.gov. Until February 28, 2022, if you give your landlord documentation that you have applied for rental assistance at or before your first appearance in court, you may be temporarily protected from eviction for nonpayment. Documentation may be made by any reasonable method, including by sending a copy or photograph of the documentation by electronic mail or text message. “Documentation” includes electronic mail, a screenshot or other written or electronic documentation verifying the submission of an application for rental assistance. To apply for rental assistance, go to:
www.oregonrentalassistance.org, or dial 211 or go to www.211info.org.
“To find free legal assistance for low-income Oregonians, go to www.oregonlawhelp.org.”
SB 291 “Screening Criteria” Measure: Requires adoption of new screening criteria, limits criminal behavior landlord may consider, requires landlords to conduct Individualized Assessments before denial (Emergency measure effective 7/1/2021 and is a permanent change with no sunset date).
- Requires landlords to provide written notice of screening and admission criteria upon requiring applicant screening charge.
- Clarifies that a landlord inform an applicant of applicant right to appeal a negative determination, provided that any right to appeal exists.
- Clarifies that a landlord must provide written notice explaining reasons for denial only for those applications to which screening and admissions criteria have been applied.
- Clarifies that a landlord may only consider criminal convictions or pending charges for conduct that is currently illegal under Oregon law.
- Allows landlords to consider applicant’s previous arrest only if the arrest resulted in certain charges for criminal conduct as provided by this Act, and the applicant was either convicted of the charges or the charges are pending and the applicant is not presently participating in a diversion, conditional discharge, or deferral of judgement program on the charges.
- Prior to denial, must conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant, including any supplemental evidence, taking into consideration:
- (A) The nature and severity of the incidents that would lead to a denial;
- (B) The number and type of incidents;
- (C) The time that has elapsed since the date the incidents occurred; and
- (D) The age of the individual at the time the incidents occurred
- If a landlord fails to comply with this section, the applicant may recover from the landlord $100
SB 282 Measure “Extends the Forgiveness Period”: Allows tenants through Feb 28, 2022 to repay landlords for rent and utilities owed during the Eviction Moratorium, it prohibits landlords from restricting Temporary Occupants, (Emergency measure effective 5/19/21 and sunsets on 3/1/2022).
- Tenants are granted a grace period to repay any rent and utilities owed during the Emergency Period without penalties or late fees lasting until February 28, 2022.
- Payments received from July 1, 2021 until February 28, 2022 by a tenant who owes charges that accrued during the Emergency Period (“covid charges”) must be applied first to current rent before being applied to the outstanding covid charges.
- Housing providers may not report tenant non-payment of rents accrued during the Emergency Period to consumer credit agencies.
- Housing providers may not consider non-payment of rents during the Emergency Period when evaluating a rental application.
- Housing providers are prohibited from imposing restrictions against tenants’ guests and or temporary occupants based on the maximum duration of stay in a tenant’s dwelling and enforcing lower maximum occupancies than those established by federal, state, or local laws.
- Housing providers may require Temporary Occupancy Agreements to be signed by all guest and may screen guests using standard criteria, except for credit-related indicators.
- Penalties allowed to tenants for housing providers’ violations:
- damages of 3 months’ rent along with actual damages and attorney fees,
- defense to eviction for housing providers’ failure to comply,
- ability to seek injunctive relief to regain possession of the premises,
- fines for retaliation increased from 2 months’ rent to 3 months’ rent or 3 times the actual damages incurred by tenant ###