Portland’s rental market has been on a rollercoaster of pandemic ups and downs. After nearly two years of frequently-changing legislation surrounding tenant law and eviction, it is finally beginning to seem like Portland is moving into a post-pandemic rental landscape. While the future remains unclear, the expiration of Portland’s eviction moratorium means that landlords cannot categorically evict their tenants. Even though the eviction moratorium has expired, many factors may still impact whether or not a landlord can evict their tenants in the coming months. Here’s what Portland property managers need to know before moving forward with an eviction.
Portland’s Eviction Moratoriums: Looking Back
While many news articles have referred to “the eviction moratorium” in the singular, that term is actually inaccurate. City, county, state, and federal eviction moratoriums have all been active in Portland throughout the pandemic. These layered regulations with different deadlines and restrictions were confusing to many Portland landlords. In addition to moratoriums from various agencies, the state of Oregon issued two separate types of eviction moratorium. One applied to no-cause evictions and another covered terminations based on nonpayment of rent.
These are all the eviction moratoriums that have applied to Portland’s tenants in the past two years and their expiration dates:
- The City of Portland and Multnomah County eviction moratoriums ended on February 1, 2021.
- The Oregon state moratorium for no-cause evictions expired on June 30, 2021.
- The Oregon state moratorium for evictions resulting from nonpayment of rent expired on December 30, 2021.
- Tenants were given a grace period until February 28, 2022, to pay back missed rents from April 2020 to June 30, 2021.
While these eviction moratoriums have expired, other legislation may still protect tenants from evictions due to nonpayment of rent.
Tenant Protections Still Prohibit Some Evictions
While the federal and state governments have marshaled financial aid to help tenants impacted by the pandemic, the speed of distributing those funds has been inadequate to meet the need. The Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) has struggled with technological issues, a lack of funding, and slow response times. The program closed to new applications at the end of 2021 after running out of money with thousands of applications still unprocessed. Now OERAP has paid over $289 million to needy renters, and still needs to distribute $100 million in funding. Over 40,000 households have thus far received aid from OERAP.
Unfortunately, many tenants who may qualify for rental assistance may not receive it before eviction protections expire. To buy time for the gears of bureaucracy to turn, tenants who have applied to the rental assistance program enter a safe harbor period in which they cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent until June 30, 2022, or OERAP processes their application.
OERAP will help cover up to twelve months of missed rental payments dating to March 13, 2020. The program also covers additional living costs such as utilities, trash, sewer, and internet, except for utilities paid by the homeowner or landlord, property taxes and insurance, phone bills, and renter insurance.
Do My Tenants Qualify for OERAP Aid?
As a landlord, you cannot apply for aid from OERAP if you’re concerned that your tenants will not be able to pay back their missed rent. However, you can encourage your tenants to apply. You can also provide them with the necessary documentation to make applying easy. This aid is geared to help low-income tenants who meet three primary qualifications:
- Earning less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.
- Experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
- In danger of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
The program preferences applicants who earn 50 percent or less of the area’s median income, and households with a member who has been unemployed for at least 90 days. OERAP distributes funds based on need. The documents your tenants will need to apply are as follows:
- A statement of rents due month by month.
- A copy of the current lease or other verified form.
- Up to date contact information, including a valid phone number, address, email, and business name (if applicable).
If a tenant qualifies for rental assistance, OERAP will pay the landlord directly for the amount of rent owed.
Will The Safe Harbor Period Be Extended?
As the pandemic dragged on longer than initial predictions, many deadlines for financial aid, eviction protections, and safe harbor have repeatedly been extended. Though vaccines have provided a significant step forward, it’s difficult to say how the future will unfold. It’s best to prepare for multiple scenarios to protect your investment from the continuing uncertainties of the pandemic rental market.
Partner with the Professionals
Many landlords have faced serious struggles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the housing market is currently experiencing nearly unrivaled demand, eviction restrictions have placed some landlords in a complicated position. If you’ve suffered as a result of the pandemic, even today’s hot market can seem full of pitfalls and confusion. If you’re struggling to navigate Portland’s rental legislation or just want a little help with the day-to-day tasks of running a rental, a property management company can help.
Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has worked with many Portland landlords to keep their investments profitable and low-stress. Even in these unforeseen times, we’ve never stopped helping our clients stay on top of the ever-changing rental landscape.
Our comprehensive service package covers every part of running a rental. That means you’ll never need to worry about managing maintenance or repair requests, collecting rent, or keeping track of Portland’s regulations. Quality communication is the name of our game. So, whenever you have a question or concern about your rental property, we’re always happy to chat. If you want to make the most of your Portland rental properties without the stressful burden of running them yourself, we would love to discuss how we can help. Call or text at (503) 515-3170, or reach out through our website.