Now that the governor has signed Senate Bill 278 into law, landlords must adapt to new eviction rules. This will mark the latest in a series of changes and restrictions surrounding residential evictions during the pandemic. As vaccination rates rise and pandemic restrictions relax, many eviction protections are also ending. However, this transition period is likely to cause difficulties for both landlords and tenants. The Oregon Legislature is struggling to create solutions to help tenants retain their homes while helping landlords recoup lost rent.  

The Current State of Oregon’s Eviction Moratorium 

Oregon’s no-cause eviction moratorium ended on February 1, 2021. Additionally, the eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent will end on June 30. However, protections for renters will extend beyond that June 30th deadline. For example, tenants with unpaid rent who submit a declaration of financial hardship form before July 1st will have a grace period until February 28th, 2022, to pay back the rent they owe between April 1st, 2020, and June 30th, 2021. On top of these regulations, SB 278 will add new eviction protections for tenants who have applied for rental assistance.

SB 278 Buys Tenants Time to Seek Financial Aid

SB 278 provides more robust guidance for landlords and tenants trying to obtain financial aid. In part, SB 278 adds a temporary extension to the eviction moratorium that begins when a tenant supplies their landlord with proof that they have applied for rental assistance. Once they’ve submitted a declaration, a landlord cannot evict the tenant for an additional 60 days. The goal of this change is to give rental assistance programs time to get funds to qualifying applicants. 

Though the legislature earmarked millions of dollars in financial aid for Oregon tenants and landlords, getting this funding to the people who need it before the eviction moratorium ends is challenging. There’s worry that the high volume of applications for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) will make it difficult to respond to each application in a timely manner. As tenants wait for aid and eviction moratoriums expires, some tenants might be evicted before aid reaches them. 

Another way that SB 278 smooths the rental assistance process is by hiring a third party to help distribute funds. Currently, the existing infrastructure struggles to keep up with the need. 

Changes to the Landlord Compensation Fund

SB 278 also implements some exciting changes to the Landlord Compensation Fund (LCF). Previously, landlords applying for the LCF were only offered 80% of their rents owed from the fund. As a result, landlords needed to forgive the remaining 20% of their tenant’s unpaid rent to receive aid. This represented a 20% loss in income, a fact which had many landlords hesitating to apply.

However, SB 278 recognizes this difficult choice and amends program payments from 80% to 100%. As a result, fund rules will no longer force qualifying landlords to forgive a portion of their tenants’ rent in exchange for receiving state aid. This change will help struggling property owners, especially mom-and-pop landlords for whom a 20% loss in income could create a major financial hardship. 

How To Get Aid

There are different avenues for tenants to secure government financial aid. Tenants can apply to the OERAP program to have their missed rent paid back directly to their landlord. However, only certain people are eligible for this aid. Only renters who earn less than 80% of the area’s median income, have experienced pandemic-related financial hardship, and are in danger of housing instability will qualify. Though landlords cannot apply for this aid themselves, there are many ways to assist tenants in the process of applying. 

Round three of the Landlord Compensation Fund ended on June 23, and it’s unknown what will become of the program next. Reports near the end of round three stated that there were still millions of dollars left in the fund, but with the increase in funding from 80 to 100% of a tenant’s owed rent, those funds might be bundled in to cover existing applications. 

The Pandemic Makes Rental Legislation Complicated

Federal, state, and local governments have rolled out new rental guidelines with unprecedented frequency as they struggle to mitigate the pandemic’s far-reaching effects. As legislation strives to ensure fair treatment for tenants and landlords alike, it has been difficult for many Portland landlords to know where they stand. A property management company like Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew can help landlords navigate these questions. 

Though the pandemic created many new changes and challenges, landlords continue to provide housing in a time when people need it more than ever. Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew seeks to help landlords do more than just survive. We help our clients thrive, even in times of turbulence. We create a clear plan with measurable goals so you can see how your property investment grows. You’ll have easy access to any documents you might need to apply for programs such as the Landlord Compensation Fund and can check up on how your property is doing at any time. You can either turn repairs and maintenance over to our stellar team or do them yourself within our 48 hour time period. 

We love working with Portland landlords to manage their property to the highest standards as well as each client’s specifications. With our team at your back and our long-standing knowledge of the Portland rental market on your side, you can sit back and look to the future with a whole lot less on your plate. For more information, call or text at (503) 515-3170 or contact us through our website.