In order to run a successful rental business, you must be sure to carefully follow all the rules and regulations around property management. However, with the many new laws in Oregon in recent years, staying on top of legislative changes can quickly become like a second job. To make things easier, here’s our legislative roundup of new laws Portland landlords must know. We’re also offering our tips on how to always ensure your rental is in compliance.
SB 599: Family Care In Rentals
Limited options for childcare in America have created serious hardships for Oregon parents. To provide more childcare options to Oregon families, Senate Bill 599 now allows tenants to operate family child care out of a rental unit. Lawmakers hoped that this bill would create more affordable childcare options for working families.
Under SB 599, Landlords cannot raise the rent or take any other punitive measures in response to a tenant’s intention to use the unit for family child-care. While landlords now cannot prohibit tenants from running childcare services in their rentals, they can still ensure that certain requirements are met:
- Family child care must follow local zoning.
- The child care must be certified under ORS 329A.280 or registered under ORS 329A.330.
- Tenants must inform their landlord of their intent to use the rental for family child care.
- Landlords can require their tenants to maintain an insurance policy which covers injuries to children and guests, including through the tenant’s negligence. Landlords can require that tenants name the landlord as an additional insured party.
Bill Breakdown: SB 599 requires landlords to permit tenants to operate childcare services out of their rental units.
SB 611: Limiting No-Cause Evictions
Oregon landlords have always faced strict requirements in order to follow through with a no-cause eviction. While SB 611 does not ban no-cause evictions, it does create even more restrictions on evictions and rent increases in an attempt to staunch Oregon’s ongoing homelessness crisis. SB 611 capped rent increases at 10% or 7% plus the previous year’s consumer price index — whichever is lower. Originally Oregon State Bill 608 established a rent cap of 7% plus inflation, but high inflation in recent years has caused rent to skyrocket.
In Oregon, you can only evict tenants from your property for no cause in these circumstances:
- Your tenants have not occupied the unit for more than a year.
- You or a family member intend to move into the unit (or you already occupy the unit).
- Planned repairs or renovations will make the unit uninhabitable.
- Someone has purchased your property and plans to move in.
Bill Breakdown: SB 611 requires landlords to pay three months’ rent to tenants they evict with no cause (up from one month’s rent prior to SB 611). In addition, it capped rent increases at 10% or 7% plus the previous year’s consumer price index (whichever is lower).
SB 291: Tenant Screening Practices
Another of Oregon’s new laws — Senate Bill 291 — created new guidelines for tenant screening practices. The following changes came about as a result of SB 291:
- SB 291 prevents landlords from charging more than the average cost of screening applicants, plus a reasonable value for the time spent processing tenant applications. The “average cost” may be determined by the customary amount that tenant screening companies or consumer credit reporting agencies charge.
- Screening criteria must now disclose a tenant’s right to appeal if their application is denied, if the ability to do so exists.
- Screening criteria must also include information on applicable non-discrimination policies, including an assertion that you as the landlord will not discriminate against an applicant because of the race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status or source of income.
- Landlords may not consider an applicant’s previous arrest record if the arrest resulted in a conviction for charges currently legal in Oregon, such as for possession of marijuana.
- SB 291 requires that landlords deliver a written notice citing one or more reasons for denying a tenant’s application within 14 days of the denial.
- Before denying an application, a landlord must allow tenants to improve their chance of acceptance. This may include submitting more evidence to provide additional detail about their application.
- The landlord must assess each application on an individual basis rather than issuing a blanket denial for bad credit or a past criminal conviction.
Bill Breakdown: SB 291 requires landlords to provide more detailed information when denying a tenant’s application. It also limits the amount they can charge in application fees and prohibits them from using certain criteria to deny an application.
SB 1536: The Right to Air Conditioning
In response to raising summer temperatures and the health hazards many Oregonians have faced due to the heat, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1536: also known as the Right To Air Conditioning Bill.
While this bill does not require landlords to install air conditioning units in all of their rentals, it does restrict the circumstances in which a landlord can prevent their tenants from getting an air conditioner themselves.
The following exceptions to the bill apply:
- Installing the unit cannot damage the property, violate building codes, or void the window’s warranty.
- The installation must comply with the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
- The unit cannot draw more amperage than the building can accommodate.
- A window unit must not block egress from the dwelling unit in cases with only one egress window. It also cannot interfere with the ability to lock first-floor windows.
- The unit must have adequate drainage.
- The air conditioner must not be at any risk of falling.
- The landlord can install the unit themselves and regularly inspect it.
- Air conditioners must be uninstalled by October 1 and not re-installed before April 30.
- Cooling units cannot require the removal of important architectural features in historic buildings.
If any of these circumstances apply to your unit and you intend to use them to restrict your tenant’s use of an unsanctioned air conditioning unit, you must prepare a written statement to that effect. If you do not inform your tenant in writing that their air conditioning unit is not allowed, you cannot demand they remove it.
Bill Breakdown: SB 1536 prevents landlords from banning tenant-supplied air conditioning in their units, except in circumstances where those units might make the unit unsafe or cause damage to the property. If you use any of these qualified restrictions, you must deliver them to your tenant in writing.
Get Help Navigating Portland’s Complex New Laws
Portland’s thriving rental market has spurred a wide number of new laws over recent years. While these changes can help regulate a complicated and essential industry, they can also make things more complicated for landlords. If you’re a self-managing owner and are feeling frustrated with staying up to date on Portland’s changing legal requirements for property managers, you may want to explore working with a property management company. A company like us can ensure your rental is always compliant with new laws, in addition to handling the less exciting parts of rental management such as tenant communication and regular maintenance. If you’d like to hear more about how Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew can revitalize your rental business, reach out any time.