Right now, Portland renters have until July 2021 to repay their rent missed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent state legislation currently under consideration will likely change that. The Oregon Senate passed SB 282A on April 14th. If passed, this law would extend the timeframe renters have to pay back missed rent until February of 2022. The bill will likely pass the House, as it has already garnered bipartisan support.
This extension will give struggling renters more time to reimburse landlords for their unpaid rent during the pandemic. But what will this extension mean for landlords also facing financial difficulties in the coming year?
At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we’re closely monitoring the legal situation for landlords in Portland’s shifting market. Here’s what local landlords need to know about SB 282A.
SB 282A Gives Renters Time to Pay
The first thing to know about SB 282A is that it extends the grace period to repay rent until February 2022. Portland landlords will not be able to evict tenants for missed rent until the end of that period. However, the bill includes a few other provisions that Portland landlords should also keep in mind.
The bill also would prevent landlords from reporting a tenant’s nonpayment to credit reporting agencies, which could seriously hamper a renter’s ability to secure housing in the future. SB 282A will relax occupancy limits and allow tenants to let friends and relatives in need of housing stay with them during pandemic conditions. However, landlords still retain the right to screen a tenant’s guests.
Facing the Months to Come
Throughout the pandemic, Portland legislators have treated renters with compassion when they need it most. A benefit of SB 282A is that it gives the government more time to offer assistance to struggling renters. This ensures that landlords receive the money they’re due and tenants won’t lose their homes. In the meantime, many landlords face the prospect of another year without collecting the rent they’re due.
A history of technical issues makes the timeframe of aid even more uncertain. Both Oregon renters and landlords have faced difficulty applying for financial assistance from the state. Last year Oregon lagged for months in distributing the federal aid to renters who desperately needed it. Those delays kept landlords waiting too. The recent creation of the Landlord Compensation Fund this year was cause for some relief. Still, technical difficulties made the process of applying for that aid a slow and complicated process.
However, hope is on the horizon for Portland’s tenants and landlords, despite logistical difficulties during a year of unprecedented challenges. $500 million of federal aid is on the way to Oregon’s renters. And SB 282A will provide a grace period while that money finds its way into the hands of those who need it. In the meantime, Portland landlords have some options to offset the loss of income from unpaid rent.
What Landlords Can Do in the Meantime
Though it had a rough start, the Landlord Compensation Fund is certainly worth considering for many Portland landlords. We’ve written in-depth about the program, including how to submit an application and what to expect if you’re accepted. In short, the program offers to pay landlords 80 percent of missed rents accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic. in exchange, landlords agree to forgive the rest of their tenants’ unpaid rents and fees. This is a tradeoff. Essentially, landlords must give up 20 percent of the money they’re owed to get aid immediately and protect their tenants from eviction. But for struggling landlords who can’t afford to wait for financial help to filter down to renters, it can prove to be a business-saving sacrifice. Small renters who own less than five units are especially likely to qualify for aid from this program.
Landlords can also try to help connect their tenants with renters’ aid. Throughout the pandemic, most financial aid has focused on tenants rather than landlords. While this can be frustrating for landlords who are also bearing the burden of the pandemic’s economic hardships, these resources can ultimately help your tenants get back on their feet and start paying back their rent sooner rather than later.
If your tenants have lost their employment or income due to COVID-19, been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, are at a higher risk to the effects of COVID-19, or have experienced any type of financial or business hardship as a result of COVID-19, your tenants may be eligible for rental assistance from the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. Home Forward, Impact NW, and the Supporting Tenants Accessing Rental Relief (STARR) program are other programs offering rental assistance in Multnomah County. By directing your tenants to these resources, you can help them get their feet back under them and start paying back rent with the help of government programs.
Portland Landlords Face More Challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown dozens of industries into chaos, and the Portland rental market is no different. Despite soaring housing prices and a ravenous demand for Portland rentals, many landlords still face unpaid rent and unreliable government aid. With a barrage of new pandemic legislation such as SB 282A, things are getting more and more complicated for Portland landlords.
If you need help, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew is here with the resources you need to make managing your property simple again. Our team is standing by to handle all interactions with tenants, from screening to maintenance to collecting rent. We’ve strived to be a valuable guide to our clients in these difficult times and are proud to have continued serving Portland’s property management community. If you’d like to know how we can help you get the most out of your Portland rental property, contact us through our website or reach us by phone or text at (503) 515-3170. We’re here to help!