The handy-dandy Oregon Landlord-Tenant Law is more than just a long list of unreadable legal drivel-the law exists to keep both the landlord and tenant happy, and to make sure your rights as a renter are protected.
The handy-dandy Oregon Landlord-Tenant Law is more than just a long list of unreadable legal drivel—the law exists to keep both the landlord and tenant happy, and to make sure your rights as a renter are protected. If you’re filling your end of the bargain by paying your rent and being a good tenant (for example, refraining from running a meth factory out of your apartment), there are certain rights your landlord can’t infringe upon.
Your deposit: not necessarily gone forever
After you move out, your landlord has 31 days to return your deposit or explain in writing why the money isn’t being returned. You have the right to request your landlord’s receipts for any replacements and repairs, the hourly wages of workers and a detailed description of what was cleaned. If your landlord tries to stiff you on the deposit and you can prove it, you’re entitled to sue for twice the amount.
Additionally, your landlord does not have the right to charge you for something that already needed replacing. This means if carpet with a five-year lifespan hasn’t been changed for five years, the landlord shouldn’t charge you for it, even if it’s trashed.
Your space is your space
Your landlord cannot enter your apartment without giving 24-hour written or oral notice—and it must be for a good reason, such as an annual inspection or to let a prospective renter look at the apartment. If you live in a single-family house, your landlord can’t even enter your yard without giving 24-hour notice. Your landlord also can’t enter your apartment at 3 a.m. or any other unreasonable hour.
The right to a habitable apartment
The law requires that nonessential repairs be completed within 30 days, but if your repairs involve plumbing or heat, they must be completed within seven days. If repairs aren’t made, you have the right to give your landlord written notice of your intent to move out if the repairs are not completed. If threatening to move isn’t realistic for you, you can also sue.
72-hour eviction notice doesn’t mean 72 hours to vacate
A notice of eviction does not necessarily mean you need to be out of your apartment within the notice’s timeframe; it is simply written notification of the beginning of a legal process. It essentially means that you have a certain timeframe to rectify the problem.
For example, a 72-hour eviction notice is common for non-payment of rent. A landlord cannot give 72-hour notice until the eighth day the rent has gone unpaid, and the notice usually means that you have 72 hours to pay your rent. If the rent hasn’t been paid after 72 hours, the landlord can go to court and file an eviction complaint.
A landlord can’t evict you unless the court grants permission. Even if you receive a 24-hour eviction notice, which is usually only given for grievous offenses such as gross destruction of property or running a brothel out of your apartment, it can take up to a month before the legal process allows the landlord to reclaim the residence.
A grace period
While many rentals have a longer grace period, you legally have until the fourth day of the rental period to pay your rent before your landlord can charge you a late fee. Your landlord cannot charge you a late fee until 12:01 a.m. on the fifth day, and you can only be charged a late fee once per late payment.
An eviction notice for non-payment requires only that you pay the rent, not the fee. Your landlord is not allowed to deduct the late fee from your rent payment and say that you still owe money. He or she can, however, still give you a 30-day eviction notice for failure to pay the fee.
Raising the rent
If you’re on a month-to-month lease, your landlord is legally required to give 30 days’ notice if he or she intends to raise your rent.
Living in campus housing is different in many ways than living elsewhere in the city. The university, as a public institution, is exempt from the Landlord-Tenant Law, meaning that students aren’t necessarily entitled to the same rights while living in campus housing. Under the exemption, students living in university housing are technically not “tenants,” allowing the universities to retain their own guidelines and implement their own eviction policies.
Portland State’s housing contract, however, grants students rights that are very similar to those of regular tenants, with a few exceptions:
24 hours means 24 hours
Unlike non-campus housing, PSU can require you to leave your apartment within 24 hours for violating the University Housing Handbook or the Student Code of Conduct. Though 24-hour notice is reserved for extreme offenses, a campus security officer can force a student to vacate the apartment at the end of the 24-hour period.
Late payment fee
The university will not charge a fee until the seventh day of the month. You also have the option of filling out a late payment petition, which will allow you to defer your rent payment for a month. The university will also waive the late fee once a year.
Notice of entry
PSU will give you a 24-hour notice of entry in most cases, but if you give notice to move, they may enter the apartment without notice to show it to another student.
The Student Conduct Code
According to the PSU Housing Student Conduct Guidelines, students are expected to abide by the Student Code of Conduct while living in residence halls, and there is a student conduct process for those who fail to do so. The process includes a student conduct meeting, in which the student has “the opportunity to hear the evidence against them” and “the opportunity to present information on their behalf in an orderly way.”
In such a meeting, students can be punished for their actions with a warning letter, charges for damaged property, community service, reassignment or eviction from student housing.
The right to appeal
You have the right to appeal the decision in writing within 72 hours of the hearing. You have the right to bring witnesses and statements from witnesses. According to the guidelines, “the proceedings are designed to be informal in nature, and no formal rules of evidence or procedure shall apply.”
You can obtain a copy of the University Housing Handbook at the University Housing office in Room 210 of the Broadway Housing Building, or online at www.pdx.edu/media/h/o/housing_handboof.pdf. The Student Code of Conduct can be found online at http://www.pdx.edu/dos/conductcode.html.
PSU Student Legal and Mediation Services
SMSU, Room M340
Legal Aid Services of Oregon
Multnomah County Office
921 S.W. Washington St., Suite 500
Community Alliance of Tenants Renter’s Rights Hotline
Oregon Law Center
230 W. Hayes St.
Woodburn, OR 97071
Oregon Bar Landlord and Tenant Law Resource Page