Portland landlords may soon see an extension to Oregon’s eviction ban, pending a special legislative session this month.
Gov. Kate Brown called Oregon lawmakers to a special session on December 13. Together, they’ll work towards a solution to the pandemic-related challenges Oregon renters continue to face. With the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) stalled and eviction protections running out, the current outlook for Oregon renters is grim.
The attempts to get aid in the hands of pandemic-impacted renters have been fraught with glitches and delays. From the beginning, OERAP struggled to keep up with the pace of applications as thousands flooded in every week. Now, many renters face the possibility of eviction not only during the wintertime but also with the threat of COVID-19 and new variants looming large.
The legislative session on December 13 aims to help struggling tenants. But what changes can Portland’s local landlords expect from this new session, and will they be left out in the cold?
OERAP Is Out Of Funding
Despite high optimism in the program’s early days, it quickly became clear that the challenge of helping Oregon’s pandemic-stricken renters would be far more complex than anticipated. Many renters waited months for a response after submitting their application–far past the 90-day eviction window protecting them. With applications still pouring in, OERAP has already acknowledged that it does not have the funding to meet the current need, and has temporarily come to a halt.
Starting the first week of December, the program put an estimated six week pause on accepting new rental assistance applications. This timeframe will also help OERAP work through the large backlog of existing applications still waiting to be processed. Though OERAP has already committed almost all of its $289 million in funding, $159 million—over half the program’s budget—has yet to reach the renters who need it. Currently, Oregon households have received about $130 million of that money. However, nearly 30,000 households have yet to see their applications processed.
Those households waiting for assistance are watching the new year approach with dread. The deadline for renters to pay back rents owed from April 2020 to June 2021 is currently February 28, 2022. Therefore landlords cannot evict tenants for rents owed during this period until March 1, or report renters for past-due rent to credit agencies.
The Special Session’s Four Goals
Gov. Kate Brown has discussed a few of her goals for the special legislative session. While these goals primarily help renters, there may be good news for struggling landlords on the horizon as well.
Extending Eviction Protections
Renters still waiting for help from OERAP may be in danger of eviction this winter. Before the special legislative session, the general eviction freeze in Oregon had ended. However, renters can still apply for a 90-day eviction freeze in Multnomah County (or 60 days in other Oregon counties), with proof that they’ve applied for rental assistance. But as of December 1, Oregon renters were no longer able to seek help from OERAP in order to benefit from that safe-harbor window. Gov. Brown has specified that she intends to push for eviction protections to be extended.
Replenish Rental Assistance Fund
One main priority of the session is to ensure OERAP gets additional funding for the new year. $90 million will go to OERAP, and another $100 million to community action agencies. Paired with the pause in applications, legislators hope the fund can get back on its feet and continue helping Oregon renters avoid eviction.
Increase Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Funding
As the agency in charge of administering Oregon’s rental assistance program, OHCS also expects to receive an additional $5 million to help cope with the surge in applications. More money will help cover the cost that the avalanche of applications has caused. The additional funding will also hopefully smooth the way for faster processing in the future.
Helping Landlords In Need
Thankfully, one of the four goals of this legislative session is to commit to fully paying landlords who are still waiting for financial aid from missed rents. The fact that Oregon legislators are keeping landlords in mind is a good sign. However, landlords who have grappled with the buggy Landlord Compensation Fund may be justifiably doubtful. Whatever the legislature proposes to help get funding in landlord’s hands, time is clearly of the essence.
Portland landlords have continued to struggle throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Ninety percent of landlords report that their rental revenue fell by almost a third from 2019 to 2020. And small mom-and-pop landlords have felt the brunt of that burden. Some landlords have even seen their rental income plummet by 50 percent as tenants struggled to pay rent amidst a global pandemic.
Rent Portland Homes: Here When You Need Us
Throughout the pandemic, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has discussed the impact of COVID-19 on local landlords and renters. We’ve worked hard to help Portland’s owners stay abreast of the most critical concerns regarding ever-changing legislation and regulations. The past two years have seen unforeseen challenges, but we’ve been honored to continue working with Portland’s rental community throughout these strange times. If you’re a landlord in the Portland area, you don’t have to face these difficulties alone.
As a property management company, Rent Portland Homes is here to help make the business of running a rental easy and profitable. We stay on top of evolving COVID-19 regulation so you don’t have to, always ensuring that your rental runs according to current state and local requirements.
You can say goodbye to endlessly researching laws and ordinances, with that nagging concern that maybe you missed something that could get you in legal trouble. After signing on with us, you’ll rest assured that your rental is operated using the highest professional standards. From our 48-hour maintenance guarantee to our focus on quality tenant communications, we’re in this business because we care. If you have any questions about how Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew can help you navigate the challenges of running a rental, you can call or text at (503) 515-3170 or reach out through our website.