*This article is not intended to be legal advice and before executing any action referenced above it is recommended the reader seek competent counsel from an attorney.

EVICTION MANAGEMENT – It’s a simple title, but as you’ll discover in the following Seven Steps, the topic quickly gets complicated. (Spoiler Alert: The Seventh Step is provided in our Owner Benefits Package). Evictions happen. They can be a petty nuisance or erupt like a dumpster fire that threatens to explode. This article is intended to provide key aspects that, as a Landlord, you ought to know.

First Step: Let’s discuss the semantics: All evictions are the results of a notice of termination, however not all notices of termination result in evictions. The eviction process begins at the moment when a notice of termination passes the specified date that the Tenant would need to terminate per that notice. At such point in time the eviction notice, known as the “Forced Entry Unlawful Detainer” (or FED) may be filed with the County Court for legal action.

Second Step: Let’s explore the geographic influences: All Oregon laws apply to Portland, but Portland laws do not apply to the rest of Oregon. (Also, other Cities, like Milwaukie and Eugene or others, may also have unique ordinances – but are not discussed in this article).

Third Step: Lets define the 6 methods used to serve a Notice of Termination in Oregon:

  1. No Cause
  2. Just Cause
  3. For Cause
  4. 10-Day Pay or Quit
  5. Outrageous Conduct
  6. Unauthorized Occupant
  1. A No Cause Termination does not require a reason in Oregon but can only be given within the first year of the Tenants’ occupancy, with a 60-day notice for month to month or a 30-day notice for a first-year lease ending. In Portland, a 90-day notice is required plus the Landlord must pay Portland-based relocation fees to the Tenants. Additionally, if the notice is given for a lease ending reason, the Landlord cannot raise the rent for the next occupant above the Statewide Rent Cap of 7% + CPI, not to exceed 10% of the prior Tenant’s rental rate. If the notice is served properly and the Tenant does not vacate, the Landlord may serve the FED and begin eviction proceedings.
  2. A Just Cause Termination may be given if the Tenant has 3 lease violations in 1 year (for example: a late rent notice, a noise complaint, and an unauthorized pet). They do not need to be the same violation. The Just Cause notice may only be given as a non-renewal at the end of a fixed-term lease and cannot be used for those on a month-to-month tenancy. This notice prevents any court appearances and can be served statewide in any year of tenancy, but the Landlord must pay both Portland relocation fees and Oregon relocation fees. In Portland, those fees are currently $2,900 for a Studio, $3,500 for a 1 Bedroom unit, $4,200 for a 2 Bedroom unit and $4,500 for anything larger. In Oregon, the relocation fee equals 1 month’s rent (but only if the Landlord owns 5 or more units, anywhere). If the unit is in Portland, the Oregon relocation fees may be deducted from the Portland fees, so long as the relocation payment is sent to the Tenant at the time of the notice. Should the Tenant not vacate as required by the notice, the Landlord may serve the FED to begin the eviction process.
  3. A For Cause Termination may be given to any Tenant anywhere in the state of Oregon without a requirement to pay relocation fees if the Tenant has violated their rental agreement. It is referred to as the “15/30 Day Notice” because it provides the Tenant with 15 days to “cure” the violation, or if not, 30 days to vacate the premises. If the violation is not cured and the Tenant vacates within the specified timeline, there is no eviction. If the Tenant does not vacate, the FED is filed, and the eviction process begins. If the Tenant cures the violation within the prescribed timeframe, the termination process is halted. However, if the Tenant then repeats this same violation within the following 6 months, the Landlord can then serve a 10-day Notice of Termination due to Repeat Violation. Then, if the Tenant remains in the property beyond that date, the Landlord may file for the FED and resume the eviction process.
  4. A 10-Day Pay or Quit notification is the process used when the Tenant has not paid their monthly rent on time. The notice states the Tenant must pay the rent by the 10th day from the date of notice, otherwise be subject to eviction proceedings. In Oregon, the notice cannot be served prior to the 8th day of the month. It must provide an additional 3 mailing days (not including Sundays or legal holidays). So, if the Tenant pays the amount of the notice by the 21st day of the month, they must be allowed to stay. Additionally, Oregon’s Eviction Protection Ordinance (HB 2001) allows a Tenant to have the notice of termination  dismissed if they pay the noticed amount due to the Landlord anytime up to and including the date of the first court appearance of an eviction. This is known as the Tenants’ Right of Redemption.
  5. An Outrageous Conduct notice requires the Tenant to vacate within 24 hours (plus 3 mailing days) when a significant incident of threat or harm to property or personal injury occurs. There is little leniency with this notice, and the Landlord may file for an FED on the 4th day after delivery if the Tenant has not yet vacated. By nature, these are cases involving extreme behavior and incidents.
  6. Unauthorized Occupant Notice to Vacate is similar to the Outrageous Conduct notice in its short 24-hour time frames. but it is used when a property is discovered to be occupied by undocumented residents – not Tenants; in other words, “squatters” who have taken control of the premises. Trespassing is a criminal activity and must be documented and “caught in the act”. Because Oregon Tenant/Landlord law allows residential rental contacts to be oral, it may be difficult for law enforcement officers to judge trespassing when they knock on the door and a residence claims they live there. Therefore, these situations are normally filed in eviction court.

Fourth Step: Let’s review the eviction process: When an FED is “filed” it means that the courts will set a date for a First Appearance, which is when the Landlord and/or their counsel plus the Tenant and/or their counsel will stand before a judge who will determine whether the case will be dismissed, be immediately settled or, if a dispute is evident, will be set for a trial. Lawyers generally file the FED’s within about 7 days of a Landlord’s request. The courts, by law, set this date for up to 8 – 10 days later, unless it is for non-payment of rent. Those First Appearance dates may be no less than 21 days from the filing. Subsequently, if a trial date is set, the court may then calendar that within another 15 days in most of Oregon, (but 30 days in Multnomah County).

At the First Appearance Hearing, the judge will call the case and ask the plaintiff (Landlord) and the defendant (Tenant) to stand. If they are both present, and if the eviction is for non-payment of rent, the Tenant will be given the opportunity to pay the amount owed (as written on the notice). If they do so, the case is dismissed, and the Tenant has prevailed. This is known in Oregon as the Tenants’ Right of Redemption. If the Tenant does not have the money, or if the complaint is for any issue other than for non-payment of rent, the judge will ask the parties to go out to the hallway to see if they can settle the case on their own, and it will be moved down the docket for a later timeslot that day. If one party is not present (usually the Tenant) the other party prevails, and the case is dismissed. When they go into the hallway, there are often Tenant Advocate lawyers who will offer their services on the spot to any unrepresented Tenants. In several jurisdictions including Portland, these lawyers are paid by the City (or County) for the specific purpose of helping to prevent the eviction from taking place. If the Tenant (with or without counsel) does not agree to settle and wants to challenge the filing, the judge will not hear the case, but will set it for a trial date.

When the eviction goes to trial there are several factors a Landlord ought to consider that may dictate their actions. 1) Court cases are unpredictable. 2) They may open a “Pandora’s box” of unexpected issues that seem unrelated to the complaint that was filed (such as evidence of retaliation and/or habitability issues like mold or broken windows or sparking electrical sockets, etc.). 3) If either party shows up to court unrepresented, they are taking the biggest risk of losing their case. 4) Depending on the county in Oregon, the case would be tried in either a Civil court or a Justice court. 5) Different jurisdictions have different leanings towards rulings and verdicts. 5) The prevailing party usually is awarded damages that can be substantial. 6) If the Landlord prevails, they are left with the task to collect what is owed from a Tenant who may be “lost in the wind”, yet they must still pay their out-of-pocket legal fees which can be substantial.

Fifth Step: Let’s see how it looks when the Landlord is successful in the eviction. When the Landlord prevails in court (whether it’s the First Appearance of after the Trial is completed) – they receive a copy of the Restitution, giving them the legal authority for taking possession of the unit. The Landlord must first determine if the Tenant has actually vacated the unit.

If no one answers the door when arriving at the property, a common “litmus test” is to do a quick walk-through and document whether there is any perishable food in the refrigerator, any mattresses in any room, and/or if there is a toothbrush in the bathroom. If not, the Landlord can probably change the locks. However, if there is indication that (any) Tenant is still in possession, the Landlord cannot take the unit back, but instead, must file for the Sherriff to come out and conduct a forced entry. This can take up to 3 weeks to schedule depending on the county.

The sheriff will show up at a time scheduled with the Landlord but that is not shared with the Tenant (so they are unprepared). The sheriff will give the Tenant 10 minutes to gather any personal belongings, and then formally hand the possession to the Landlord (who can then change the locks). These encounters are obviously very intense, and may even involve armed backup patrols. Having a locksmith and a maintenance tech to board up any entry is a common procedure.

Lastly, before discarding any belongings that are left remaining at the property, the Landlord must provide and Abandoned Property notice – keeping items stored in a locked area (like the garage) for up to 5 days (plus 3 days for mailing) and allowing the Tenant the right to retrieve the items.

Sixth Step: Let’s decide which cases for an eviction are worth pursuing, or not. If the action is being taken for Outrageous Conduct or for Unauthorized Tenants (assuming the situation warrants either of these 2 claims) it is worth the effort to proceed without delay. The main mitigating factor to pause on either a No-Cause, Just Cause, or a For-Cause is if the Tenant may have an argument claiming retaliation for the action, (such as disputed repair requests or denying the grounds of a warning notice they received, etc.). Otherwise, Cases for a No Cause or Just Cause are fairly uncomplicated without much risk. Cases that are For Cause about bad behavior or property damage allow the Tenant to cure the infraction(s) to prevent the filing. Therefore the Owner should recognize that to in order to pursue them in court, it will require good documentation and the need to testify about the infractions. If it’s a neighbor who has complained about the Tenant, they need to know that they would be called to court to share their story for the eviction to have a chance of succeeding. Many neighbors are reluctant to do so, which complicates the process, making the judgement call to pursue the trial more difficult.

When the eviction is for Non-Payment of Rent, there are a number of new factors to consider. Recently Oregon passed its Eviction Protection Ordinance”, HB 2001.This law complicates what had been a very routine process that required a Tenant to pay rent or be forced to vacate. The new law added a provision that allows the Tenant time to seek public Rental Assistance, with penalties to the Landlord if they fail to cooperate with those agencies (and their timeliness). Additionally, this law then grants Tenants their Right to Redemption, meaning they must be allowed to stay if the amount of money written in the notice is paid by the day they show up in court, eliminating the Landlords ability to pursue the final termination. The law also extends the time frames for the late rent notice to be delivered from 72 hours to 10 days, as well as added timeframes before the first appearance in court must be scheduled, instructing courts to set it for “not less than 21 days” (to further provide more time for the Tenant to secure a rent payment).

Here is an illustration: Rent is due on the 1st and late on the 5th. The late notice can’t be sent until the 8th.  It allows 10 days + 3 days for mailing. So, the rent can be paid anytime before the 22nd of the month before an FED may be filed. If filed instantly, the court date may then be set for not less than 21 days later. So, depending on the month and weekends and holidays, the case will be heard by the 13th to the 15th of the next month.

If/when the Tenant provides electronic communication to the Landlord (a text / screen shot at anytime up to the scheduled court date), showing they have applied for some type of rent assistance, the eviction process stops, even if the assistance has not yet been approved. If they are subsequently denied rent assistance, the case may be resumed. Additionally, if the Tenant shows up in court with the amount owed on the notice (which would only be for the prior month’s payment, from the date when the notice was first delivered), the court automatically grants the Tenant their Right of Redemption. So, they get to go home and the case is closed. The statute simply assumes they will now pay the current month’s rent. However, if they fail to pay that next month’s rent on time, this whole process can start all over again. Currently, there are no restrictions for how many times this song and dance may happen, and if using a lawyer or a service to file these cases, a Landlord may need to budget between $200 to $500 per occurrence, just to get it to court (when the real “fun” can begin).

Obviously, a Landlord can become easily frustrated as the “string gets wrapped around the axel” and the tension escalates. If the law’s intention is to keep Tenants from being evicted, it is working. However, one significant unintended consequence is the rapid deterioration of the Tenant/Landlord relationship, which sets up more problems to come. To save money and time, having an advocate manage the process is the best recommendation.

 Seventh Step: Now let’s consider a plan for your risk management: When faced with a potential eviction proceeding, obviously having good legal advice is imperative. But having a skilled negotiator, trusted advisor, and expert facilitator in your corner (along with some cash reserves) can make all the difference to your bottom line and, more importantly, to your quality of life. The Garcia Group offers an Eviction Mitigation Plan to our Owners for any Tenant we place in the property (or existing Tenants we’ve managed for over one year). It does several things when a Tenant breaches their rental agreement:

  1. We have the proper notices served to the Tenant within the proper time frames.
  2. We review and advise our Owners on their best-options as the situation develops.
  3. We pay up to $1,000 of legal fees towards eviction filings and notices during any single tenancy.
  4. We facilitate the communication of any legal interactions to all parties appropriately.
  5. We actually show up to meet the Sherriff if a forced lock-out is required.
  6. We work with our Owners to accomplish the best outcome possible.

As stated at the onset, evictions proceedings can occur for many reasons. However, many are remedied or are avoided with proper handling. Knowing the regulations is the foundation for navigating the process. Having a qualified team in place who are prepared to act on your behalf is paramount for a successful outcome.

(SPECIAL NOTE: On July 26th 2023 a Washington County Sherriff was shot by a tenant when serving eviction papers in Tualatin and is in critical condition. Our prayers go out to him and all first responders, as well as to those suffering a mental health crisis. This is a tragic reminder that evictions are a last-resort option to a problem that all parties work to prevent. (For Deputy Doze’s GoFundMe page CLICK HERE)