As the Portland rental market slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon Legislature has enacted many new changes. The most recent is State Bill 278, which laid down new protections for Oregon renters struggling with pandemic hardships. But on top of SB 278, a new Multnomah County ordinance has further regulated the way landlords must handle evictions. 

On June 8, the county board of commissioners passed Multnomah County Ordinance 1296. The ordinance extended the time frame for eviction protections but only relating to those established by SB 278. Here’s what Portland landlords need to know about Ordinance 1296 and how this will impact evictions in the future. 

Renters Are Still Waiting To Receive Aid

Thus far, the pipeline of financial aid from the Oregon Government to renters has been clogged. Through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP), legislators reserved $204 million in federal assistance for struggling Oregon renters. However, getting that money in the hands of tenants has presented many logistical difficulties. So far, the government’s aging infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with the flood of applications. Many tenants have already waited weeks to hear back after applying, without knowing whether or not they’ll be approved. 

In some ways, SB 278 was an extension of the eviction moratorium, even as the blanket ban on evictions for non-payment of rent ended on June 30. To balance the financial need of landlords with tenants’ struggling to pay, SB 278 created a system for renters still awaiting financial aid to stave off imminent eviction. 

On top of hiring a third party to help process the requests for aid, SB 278 created a temporary eviction ban that comes into effect when a tenant supplies their landlords with a declaration that they have already applied for financial assistance and are awaiting a decision. Once a landlord receives that notice, SB 278 creates a 60-day window in which that tenant cannot be evicted. SB 278’s protections will remain in place until February 2022. However, Multnomah County Ordinance 1296 made further changes to those protections.

New Changes on Top of SB 278

In short, Multnomah County Ordinance 1296 extended the 60-day eviction protection under SB 278 to 90 days for tenants living within the county limits. While 60 days might seem like plenty of time for renters to receive their aid, the data says otherwise. Since May 19 when the program opened, 19,000 Oregon households requested almost $115 million in aid. However, only $700,000 of that money had been distributed. At that time, approximately 67 percent of applications were awaiting initial review. On top of that, 14 percent of those already reviewed needed more information from tenants. And now, with the restrictions lifted, tenants are in danger of eviction even as they await aid. 

Two months of legal protection probably wasn’t sufficient to save tenants from eviction while they waited for a decision. The additional 30 days provided by Ordinance 1296 will give Multnomah County residents more time for their OERAP review.

Oregon’s Rental Crisis Is Far From Over

In the early days of the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that ensuring safe and reliable housing for renters across the nation would be key in the fight against COVID-19. Governments moved swiftly to protect tenants. While the Landlord Compensation Fund took longer to enact, it offered hope that owners might recover some lost revenue. 

Even though these protections certainly helped, the struggles of the pandemic were far more challenging to overcome. The pandemic eliminated one in seven jobs in Oregon. This brought on long-term unemployment for many people, which caused them to fall even further behind on rent. During the pandemic, Oregon’s unemployment rate was as high as the state has ever recorded. As recently as May, with vaccines widely available and the economy reopening, 35 percent of Oregon renters were still behind on rent

Renter’s hardships have primarily fallen on landlords, who have shouldered much of the financial burden of unpaid rent. Now, as the pandemic restrictions finally lift, many landlords are understandably eager to start recouping their lost rent. This new legislation will hopefully help balance the needs of landlords and tenants while aid slowly trickles down from OERAP. 

Property Managers Are There for You

If you’re a Portland landlord who has faced unprecedented adversity during the pandemic, you’re far from alone. These troubling times have been difficult for us all, and the everyday hardships of managing a rental have become all the more complicated. With measures such as SB 278, it’s not easy to know where you legally stand in terms of what you can and cannot do. If you’re tired of navigating the labyrinth of laws, ordinances, and regulations, it might be time to hire a property manager. 

Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has kept up to date on the massive shifts in Portland’s rental landscape throughout the pandemic. We stay on top of the new legislation, so you don’t have to, ensuring that you’ll never be at risk of a lawsuit or other action. We also handle all the time-consuming aspects of rental management, from creating a stellar marketing campaign and screening new tenant applications

With help from our talented team, we’ve seen our properties fly off the market within literal hours of being posted on our site. When you work with us, you have the strength, expertise, and support of a team that cares. We constantly strive to do our best for both our tenants and our clients during these difficult times. If you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to work with Portland’s premier property management company, call or text at (503) 515-3170 or contact us through our website.