The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive disruptions in the Oregon economy. When the virus first emerged in the United States, governments around the country responded with new laws intended to help those hit hardest by the crisis. On March 8th, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency that allowed her to take broad actions to control the spread of the virus. One of those measures was a moratorium on residential evictions due to nonpayment, an effort to protect renters from losing their homes in the face of significant economic upheaval.

Of course, these orders had downstream consequences. Many investment property owners have mortgages of their own and can’t afford to absorb lost rent. These landlords faced an increased risk of foreclosure that threatened their economic well-being and the well-being of their tenants. In June, the Oregon State Legislature responded by passing HB 4204, which placed a foreclosure moratorium for residential and commercial spaces through September 30th, 2020.

Foreclosure Moratorium and State of Emergency Extended

On September 1st, Governor Brown announced she would extend the foreclosure moratorium until December 31st, 2020. In her executive order, the governor said these actions were necessary to continue fighting the coronavirus.

“At this time, it is clear that an extension of House Bill 4204’s temporary foreclosure moratorium is necessary to prevent the removal of Oregonians from their homes by foreclosure, which would result in serious health, safety, welfare, and financial consequences, and which would undermine key efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as set form in my prior directives.”

Governor Brown’s executive orders also extend to commercial properties.

“Extension of the moratorium is also necessary to protect businesses at risk of foreclosure, and businesses operating within premises at risk of foreclosure, many of which provide necessary goods and services during this emergency.”

Part of Governor Brown’s rationale for extending the foreclosure moratorium is that it would also benefit renters. By extending House Bill 4204, mortgagors leasing their property to renters will have additional flexibility to work with struggling tenants.

In addition to extending the foreclosure moratorium, Governor Brown also extended Oregon’s state of emergency until November 3rd. The official state of emergency gives Governor Brown the legal ability to issue coronavirus-related executive orders. It also allows the Oregon Health Authority to create specific guidelines to help control the disease’s spread.

Unanswered Questions

There are still some unanswered questions that will impact renters and homeowners throughout Oregon. Executive Order 20-13 placed restrictions on residential evictions due to nonpayment. The legislation also gave tenants six months to repay rents and charges they accrue during the emergency period. The original executive order expired on June 30th. However, House Bill 4213 — passed on June 26th — extended that moratorium until September 30th. It’s unclear at this time if Brown will extend the statewide eviction moratorium.

Governor Brown’s foreclosure moratorium also faces a lawsuit from the Oregon Bankers Association. The group objects to provisions in the law preventing lenders from issuing fees and penalties to homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. Lawyers for the group argue that Oregon law “unconstitutionally pre-empts federal law and said it unfairly seeks to establish retroactive protections beginning March 8th – more than three months before the bill was passed.”

Expert Guidance in Uncertain Times

Renters and investment owners alike currently face challenges unlike any we’ve seen in recent history. The decisions both groups make in the coming months could impact their financial well-being for years to come. That’s why in uncertain times, it’s critical to have an experienced partner you can trust. Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has decades of combined property management experience. What’s more, we’re marshaling all our resources and connections to stay up-to-date on the near-constant changes to Oregon rental law.

If you’re a current client with questions about how these new laws impact your situation, contact us today at (503) 430-8006. If you’re a self-managing rental owner in need of a qualified property management partner, we’d also love to talk. You can call or text Darla directly at (503) 515-3170 or fill out the contact page on our website. We’re ready to help you move through this challenging period successfully.