Now that Oregon Senate Bill 599 (SB 599) has officially passed, tenants and landlords can expect to abide by the new regulations regarding family child care services when it goes into effect on January 1, 2024. The bill drew bipartisan support in the Oregon senate and passed by a large margin, promising to address the state’s severe shortage of child care options. For Portland landlords and tenants, this bill may mean some big changes. Here’s what you need to know.

What is SB 599?

A report by the Center for American Progress found that 60 percent of Americans live in a “child care desert”. These are areas where finding child care is difficult or impossible, potentially requiring parents to travel significant distances to get their children proper care. 

SB 599 focuses on bridging that gap. In essence, the bill requires landlords to permit tenants to operate child care services out of their rental units as long as they meet two specific requirements:

  • Family child care operated under SB 599 must be certified under ORS 329A.280 or registered under ORS 329A.330.
  • Tenants must also inform the landlord of their intent to use their rental unit for child care.

Legislators hope this bill will help establish more child care providers, especially in urban areas like Portland, where they’re badly needed.

“This bill is an important step to provide more affordable child care options so that working families can stay in their communities. This security will have a compounding effect on increased workforce performance, longer tenure of employees, and more stable home lives,” said Sen. Dick Anderson in a statement. Sen. Anderson was one of the chief sponsors of the bill.

The major takeaways from SB 599 are:

  • Landlords cannot prohibit their tenants from running child care services in their rentals.
  • Tenants must meet specific requirements to operate child care services.
  • Child care operated in rental units must still follow local zoning.

How Will SB 599 Affect Oregon Landlords?

Along with requiring landlords to permit family child care services in their properties, SB 599 also restricts them from raising rent, terminating a tenancy, or taking other retaliatory actions against tenants who choose to operate a family child care facility in their unit. 

However, SB 599 does provide landlords with options to ensure they remain protected from liability concerns if their tenants start a child care service. Under SB 599, landlords can impose the following restrictions: 

  • Requiring tenants to pay in advance for the costs of modifying a unit for the use, certification, or registration of the dwelling as family child care.
  • Prohibiting a use that the unit’s zoning or local law does not allow.
  • Requiring parents of children utilizing the child care service in question to sign a document affirming that they will not hold the landlord liable for losses or injuries relating to the family child care facility.
  • Require the tenant operating a family child care service to maintain an insurance policy covering injuries to children and guests that includes the tenant’s or employees’ negligence and names the landlord as an additional insured party.

While SB 599 may place an additional burden on Oregon landlords, it may also have some positive indirect consequences. When parents have more access to child care, they can remain in the workforce longer and maintain greater financial stability. Additionally, tenants who decide to open their own family child care service will see new income sources, which improves their financial position as well.  

Lastly, because this is such an important issue for parents, they often choose where they live based on the area’s available child care options. An abundance of child care choices will make that area more attractive to renters, ultimately benefiting investment property owners. 

How Will SB 599 Affect Tenants?

Overall, legislators and advocates hope SB 599 will increase child care options for Oregon parents by allowing more tenants in rental housing to provide these services. The lack of child care can impact one or both parents’ careers, as it can often be less expensive for a person to leave the workforce to provide at-home care than it is to pay for care—assuming paid care is available at all. That causes a cascading effect on the workforce, where qualified employees have to take years off from their careers and dramatically alter the course of their lives, potentially making it impossible to pick up where they left off once they can find child care.

According to the Child Care for Oregon Coalition, providers and families who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, and refugees will especially benefit from SB 599. “These providers are more likely to live in rental housing,” they said in a letter submitted as testimony. “And families from these groups often prefer home-based care as they see it being a better fit to their cultures, backgrounds, and values.”

Stay On Top Of Portland’s Changing Property Legislation

Many investment property owners might find the prospect of their tenants operating child care services in their units to be intimidating. Should you require them to maintain insurance? And can you be sure they have the right kind? It’s natural to want to remain protected in case of a lawsuit, but the details of following the law can be challenging. That’s where a qualified property manager like Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew comes in. 

Our team handles the complexities of property management in the modern day for you, navigating new legislation and ensuring your rental stays compliant. We make sure you stay protected from legal issues while also quickly and thoroughly addressing any tenant safety concerns. You won’t have to worry about tenant communication or tiresome maintenance; we handle it all. Why not sit back and relax and let us manage your rental to the highest standard for both you and your tenants?

We look forward to the opportunity of working with you. Call or text us anytime at (503) 515-3170, or reach out through our website for more information!