Portland, Oregon, has been at the forefront of progressive legislative changes, particularly in the realm of housing and tenant rights. Three new House Bills (HB), HB 2680, HB 3443, and HB 1069, took effect on January 1st, 2024 and address specific aspects of housing, rent control, and tenant protection. Let’s delve into the details of the new Portland rental legislation and their potential impact on landlords and tenants in our city.

HB 2680: Screening and Application Changes

HB 2680 introduces significant changes impacting landlords, focusing on enhancing transparency and tenant rights in the screening process.

Key Provisions

  1. Confirmation of Screening: HB 2680 mandates that Housing Providers promptly notify applicants of any screening conducted by a tenant screening company or consumer credit reporting agency. This confirmation must include a copy of the receipt issued by the company or agency, ensuring transparency in the screening process.
  2. Additional Language in Applications: To align with the evolving standards of non-discrimination policies, landlords must incorporate additional language into their rental applications. This includes:
    • Landlords must add gender identity as a protected class in their non-discrimination policy language, reflecting the commitment to inclusivity and equal housing opportunities.
    • The updated applications must outline the applicant’s rights regarding screening charges. Specifically, applicants have the right to a refund within 30 days if the unit is filled before screening or if the screening is not conducted or ordered before the applicant withdraws the application in writing.
    • The application must inform applicants about their right to a $250 fine in cases where a landlord fails to comply with the refund requirements outlined above or neglects to conduct a screening or refund screening charges within the stipulated 30-day period.

SB 3443: Protecting Victims of Bias Crimes

Governor Tina Kotek’s approval of SB 3443 on July 31, 2023, ushers in additional protections for survivors of bias crimes. SB 3443 defines a “bias crime” as actions involving tampering with property, subjecting others to offensive physical contact, or causing alarm through threats based on perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.

Key Provisions

  1. Damages to Property: SB 3443 empowers survivors of bias crimes with rights similar to those afforded to victims of domestic violence concerning damages to property. Landlords may request tenants to verify victimhood to address damages resulting from the perpetrator’s actions.
  2. Bifurcation of Leases: The legislation allows for the bifurcation of leases for the purpose of terminating the perpetrator. Landlords have the authority to issue a 24-hour written notice specifying the cause and termination details if a tenant perpetrates a criminal act of physical violence related to bias crimes.
  3. Termination or Failure to Renew Tenancy: SB 3443 protects victims of bias crimes by ensuring landlords cannot terminate a lease or restrict rental services due to the perpetrator’s actions.
  4. Renter’s Ability to Terminate Without Penalty: SB 3443 recognizes the unique challenges renters face in the aftermath of bias crimes, granting them the ability to terminate a tenancy with 14 days written notice without incurring penalties.

HB 1069: Balancing Tenant and Landlord Interests

Previously, official tenant notices needed to be delivered in paper form. HB 1069 changes this policy and, under some circumstances, allows landlords to deliver notices by email, as well as electronic returns of security deposits. This does not apply to termination notices.

Key Provisions

  1. Electronic Notice Service for Non-Termination Notices: Non-termination written notices, excluding termination notices, may be emailed under specific conditions outlined in a written addendum to the rental agreement. The addendum must cover details such as mutual agreement, specified email addresses, and the option for either party to terminate or change email notice preferences with a minimum of three days’ written notice. Once the addendum meets all the necessary conditions, various notices, including rent increases, renter’s insurance requirements, late fee changes, community rules adjustments, violation notices, and entry notices, can be sent via email without additional mailing days.
  2. Termination Notices via Email and Mail Service: If the addendum meets all the requirements, landlords can also send termination of tenancy notices via email and mail service. This method allows for simultaneous email and first-class mail service with no added mailing days. For instance, a 10-day nonpayment of rent notice sent by Email & Mail Service on January 8, 2024, expires at 11:59 p.m. on January 18, 2024.
  3. Electronic Security Deposit Refunds and Accountings: Parties may agree to electronically return the security deposit to a designated bank account by signing an addendum. If any amount is withheld, the security deposit accounting can be sent via email, subject to the conditions discussed above. If an addendum allowing electronic security deposit refunds is signed, rent payments may also be returned electronically. This is particularly useful for rejecting partial rent payments made electronically.

Keep Up To Date With The Legal Changes Ahead

As the city embraces this new Portland rental legislation in 2024, landlords must stay informed about the intricacies of legal changes. Landlords play a pivotal role in shaping the rental landscape, and adapting to these legislative changes is not only a legal obligation but also an opportunity to contribute to Portland’s vision of a more inclusive and equitable housing environment. But staying up to date is often more difficult than it seems, and many landlords can quickly start to feel stressed by the sheer amount of research and work it takes to remain informed.

If you feel overwhelmed by the ever-evolving landscape of new Portland rental legislation, consider alleviating the stress by partnering with Rent Portland Homes, Darla Andrew’s Office. Our experienced property management team is dedicated to staying abreast of the latest laws and regulations, ensuring that we manage your properties in compliance with all requirements. By entrusting us with your rental portfolio, you can focus on what you do best—growing your investments and providing quality housing—while we handle the intricacies of tenant relations, legal compliance, and property maintenance. Take a proactive step towards peace of mind and sustainable property management: contact Rent Portland Homes, Darla Andrew’s Office today at (503) 515-3170, and let us navigate the complexities of rental legislation on your behalf. Your properties, tenants, and peace of mind deserve the expertise we bring to the table.