A new bill may offer some big changes in Portland’s ongoing battle against the housing and homelessness crisis. Oregon State Bill 799, or SB 799, would roll out further reforms to Oregon’s eviction system. The bill aims to make changes to the timeframe in which renters have to act after receiving an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent. 

The bill received its first legislative hearing on Monday, January 30th. Almost 80 people signed up to testify before the Oregon Senate Committee on Housing and Development, most of whom favored the bill. With many stable housing advocates throwing their support behind the bill, it seems likely that this new legislation could find a foothold. However, others suggest the bill could have some negative consequences as well.

Here’s what Portland landlords should know as we watch the progress of SB 799. 

What is SB 799?

Primarily, SB 799 aims to delay eviction proceedings over unpaid rent for up to 60 days if a tenant has applied for rental assistance. This is in many ways an extension of the “safe harbor” legislation which delayed or prevented most evictions during the height of the pandemic, as long as they were still waiting to hear back about rental aid. 

In short, SB 799 will increase the timeframe for evictions in an effort to give tenants more time to get help.

Why Was This Bill Introduced?

SB 799 was introduced in response to the difficulties many renters face in accessing financial aid to avoid eviction. Currently, landlords can serve month-to-month renters an eviction notice if they are seven days late on their rent payment. Once they receive this notice, renters have 72 hours to pay their missed rent. If they still can’t find the money to pay, their landlord may then file to evict them. 

Many advocates of SB 799 say this timeframe presents renters with an impossible challenge. For renters suffering financial hardship, 72 hours is rarely enough time to access the help they need to avoid eviction. Scarce resources mean that many rental assistance agencies will only help a tenant once they receive an eviction notice. This means that tenants have to locate appropriate aid, get approved, receive a check, and deliver the money in a three-day window–and with the months that many tenants had to wait to get rental aid during the height of the pandemic, this timeframe presents many challenges. After rental protections expired last year, evictions more than doubled by the end of 2022.

Ideally, SB 799 aims to give renters more time to access essential resources and avoid eviction. This, in turn, will ensure that landlords get paid and that tenants don’t lose their homes. However, some people are less optimistic about the bill’s effects.

SB 799 Raises Some Concerns

In many ways, SB 799 is an extension of the same eviction restrictions that protected Portland renters throughout the pandemic. That comparison is unwelcome to many Portland property managers. For self-managing property owners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a rollercoaster of new challenges. One of the most difficult things for landlords in the past few years has been the constant shifts in the legal landscape. Federal, state, and local legislation all surged into action to provide protections for renters in the midst of the pandemic. For years, landlords navigated legislation such as eviction moratoriums, safe harbor periods, and ever-promised but inconsistent rental aid. Now, many property managers are concerned about the effect that SB 799 could have on their rental businesses. 

“These measures were not meant to be permanent,” said Jason Miller, legislative director for the Oregon Rental Housing Association. “They were extreme measures taken during extreme times, where thousands of people were out of work for months because of government-mandated shutdowns.”

In its current form, SB 799’s protections focus on preventing renters from experiencing homelessness. It does not currently contain protections to ensure that property owners will receive the rent they’re owed. 

Will More Legislation Be On The Way?

SB 799 has not yet passed the Oregon Legislature. However, it may be the first of many attempts to regulate Portland’s rental market. Currently, Portland’s rent controls allow landlords to increase rent annually by 7 percent plus Consumer Price Index. Due to high inflation, this means that Oregon rents can legally increase by over 14 percent

Senate Bill 611 is another bill in the works that may impact landlords and renters. It aims to tighten Oregon’s rent control by providing a lower threshold for the amount that rent can increase. Oregon’s governor Tina Kotek also released a plan for a $130 million bill to prevent and address homelessness. This money would go towards preventing 9,000 people from experiencing homelessness and expanding shelter capacity by 600 beds within one year.

Navigating Portland’s Renter Protection Bills

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the necessity of staying on top of Portland’s shifting property management laws, you’re not alone. Property management burnout is a real problem, and will likely become even more prevalent as the business grows more complicated. If you enjoy the income you earn from your rental property but are getting tired of the hassle that managing it entails, we’re here to help. 

Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has served property owners in your neighborhood for years, offering top-quality property management services. Our top-tier team of experts will take care of all the details.

To hear more about how we can help you boost your rental investment and protect yourself from legal pitfalls, call or text us today at 503-515-3170. You can also reach us through the contact form on our website at any time.