Portland property owners looking to break into the rental market may be surprised at how complicated the process now is. New regulations mean that renting out your property is no longer as simple as finding the right tenant. And we know even that is far from easy.
At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we make it our business to keep up with the ever-changing trends in the rental market. In a recent video, we touched on a few of the hurdles that Portland property owners should consider as they dive into the exciting decision to rent out their property. Check it out!
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Oregon Senate Bill 608
Much of the recent rental legislation focuses on bolstering renters’ rights and protections. These changes can give tenants peace of mind. But they can also confuse landlords who want to make sure they’re keeping up to date with the law.
One such law is Senate Bill 608, which focuses on eviction and rent increases. Prior law allowed Portland property owners to issue no-cause evictions as long as they provided 30 days’ notice. One component of SB 608 is that it provides basic protections against no-cause evictions if tenants have lived at the property for at least one year. It also limits the impact of de-facto economic evictions. For example, when a landlord dramatically raises rent in such a short period that tenants can’t possibly pay. SB 608 creates regulations limiting rent increases to no more than seven percent plus the consumer price index percentage each year. Exemptions include affordable housing, which is already regulated, and new construction for the first fifteen years.
Multnomah County Fair Housing
The laws in Multnomah County protect renters from discrimination on many grounds, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, source of income, and age. Although many people’s idea of discrimination may be fairly straightforward, the reality can be more complicated. Discrimination can also take the form of creating different standards for different tenants. Or, refusing to make reasonable accommodations for a tenant with a disability. To avoid unknowingly ending up on the wrong end of the fair housing protections, it’s important to stay informed.
Tenant Screening Changes
In February of this year, the Portland City Council adopted new policies to increase access for potential tenants with records landlords might balk at, such as prior criminal convictions or financial defaults. The ordinance’s “low barrier” screening criteria limits background checks to felony convictions in the past seven years and misdemeanors within the past three years. It also lowers the acceptable credit score renters can apply with and prevents renters from being rejected due to insufficient credit history or a court eviction older than three years.
Landlords are still able to use their own criteria. However, they must provide written justification for denying a rental application. The policy also bans the practice of requiring more than two and a half times the monthly rent in income. The legislation may open doors for some prospective tenants looking for a new start. However, it also shifts more risk to landlord and creates a significant administrative burden.
In a companion measure to the new screening criteria, Portland also now requires landlords to make a thorough accounting of funds withheld from the security deposit for repairs. If such a receipt isn’t provided or gives an incorrect accounting, the potential penalties are severe. Tenants can sue and may be entitled to twice the amount wrongfully withheld. So maintaining accurate records is crucial. Oregon does not limit how much a landlord can collect. However, there are other limitations surrounding security deposits that property owners must remain aware of. For example, landlords must give tenants three months to pay any additional deposit after they’ve been in a residence for more than a year. They also may not require an additional deposit during the first year of residence unless an existing lease is modified.
Landlords can deduct rent money lost from cleaning or repairing a unit from the security deposit. However, there are additional restrictions surrounding this rule, as well. For instance, landlords can only charge for carpet cleaning if it was performed by a machine specifically designed to clean carpets, and if the carpet was cleaned properly prior to the tenant’s occupancy.
Because calculating the ins and outs of security deposits is a detail-oriented business, the law itself is fairly complex. Be sure to stay aware of any changing regulations when determining the amount of a security deposit to withhold. Otherwise you risk being on the receiving end of a time-consuming and costly legal action.
Portland Property Owners Benefit from Our Insight
These are just a few examples of changing rental laws, but of course, the details can get much more complicated. For instance, some of the policies outlined here are facing legal challenges that might cause them to change in the future. At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we work for you and do the work for you. By remaining on top of changing legislation, we ensure that our clients are always getting the best tenants in without having to worry about the details of rental law. We’d be happy to chat via phone or video conference about all that Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew can offer you. You can call or text us anytime at (503) 515-3170, or by filling out the contact page on our website.