“Landlords are temporarily prohibited from filing new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent as a result of COVID-19”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged Oregon State Governor Kate Brown to issue a Stay at Home order effective statewide in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. As a result, many individuals are out of work, causing emotional stress and financial hardship.
Federal, state, and local governments have each taken action in an attempt to reduce financial stress on residential and commercial tenants.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). In Section 4024, the CARES Act imposed immediate protections for some residential tenants. Specifically, the CARES Act placed a federal eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent on covered properties. Landlords are temporarily prohibited from filing new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent as a result of COVID-19, as well as prohibited from charging late fees or other penalties for tenants’ nonpayment of rent. It is critical for landlord to review the definition of covered properties, and confer with a knowledgeable attorney is they are unsure whether they own a covered property.
The moratorium took effect immediately on March 27, 2020 and expires July 25, 2020. Landlords, that own covered properties, are prohibited from evicting residential tenants for nonpayment of rent during the entire course of the moratorium. After the moratorium expires, the landlord may take action against non-paying tenants, subject to a federally imposed 30-day notice to vacate. Please note that the CARES Act does not affect evictions unrelated to non-payment.
On April 1, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-13 (“EO 20-13”). EO 20-13 declared a moratorium on certain terminations of residential rental agreements and non-residential leases.
During this moratorium, any residential or non-residential tenant who is or will be unable to pay the full rent when due under their rental agreement or lease shall notify the landlord as soon as reasonably possible. Additionally, tenants shall make partial rent payments to the extent that they are financially able to do so.
With regard to non-residential tenants, the tenant must provide their landlord, within 30 calendar days of unpaid rent being due, with documentation or other evidence that nonpayment is caused by, in whole or in part, the COVID-19 pandemic. EO 20-13 does not require similar proof for residential tenants.
Consequently, the landlord may not, for reason of nonpayment of rent (which EO 20-13 defines to include evictions without cause), late charges, utility charges, or any other service charge or fee, terminate the tenant’s rental agreement or take any action, judicial or otherwise, relating to an eviction arising under ORS 105.105 through ORS 105.168. Prohibited actions include, without limitation, filing, serving, delivering or acting on any notice, order or writ of termination, or interfere with the tenant’s right to possession of the premises.
The moratorium does not relieve a tenant from paying rent, utility charges, or any other service charges or fees. The moratorium does, however, relieve a tenant from paying for late charges or other penalties arising from nonpayment.
The moratorium began April 1, 2020 and will continue in effect until June 30, 2020, unless terminated sooner by Governor Kate Brown. Any person found to be in violation of EO 20-13 is subject to criminal penalties.
Multnomah County Response
Prior to the announcement of EO 20-13, on March 11, 2020, the Multnomah County Chair signed Executive Order 388 (“EO 388”), declaring an emergency for Multnomah County and announcing a moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent and rent deferral in Multnomah County. EO 388 was ratified by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on March 19, 2020, and the Multnomah Commissioners adopted Ordinance 1282 putting in effect the County wide eviction moratorium. On April 16, 2020, the Multnomah Commissioners passed Ordinance 1284 that suspended the enforcement of Ordinance 1282, in order to align the County with the Governor’s EO 20-13. Ordinance 1284 continues the six month grace period for residential tenants to repay their unpaid rent, but tenants no longer need to provide proof of the substantial loss of income to their landlords or notify their landlords on or before the day that the rent is due that they are unable to pay rent. The tenants instead need to notify their landlords as soon as reasonably possible that they are unable to pay rent.
Multnomah County Ordinance 1284 does not relieve a tenant of paying rent. The tenant must still pay the missed rent within 6 months after expiration of the emergency; however, no late fees will accrue.
Civil proceedings to enforce Ordinance 1284, may be instituted by Multnomah County or the tenant. A landlord that fails to comply with any of the requirements set forth in Ordinance 1284 shall be subject to appropriate injunctive relief, and for an amount up to 3 times the monthly rent, as well as actual damages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs.
Properties within Multnomah County are subject to both the statewide EO 20-13 moratorium and the Multnomah County Ordinance 1284.
For assistance in determining how your property may be affected by the CARES Act, EO 20-13, and Ordinance 1284, we encourage you to speak with a knowledgeable real estate attorney.
Denise Gorrell draws upon her extensive knowledge of restaurants and the wine industry to inform her real property and commercial law practice. She helps hospitality industry clients navigate complex, important issues such as business formation, real estate agreements, trademarks, OLCC rules and other governmental regulations.
Colleen O. Muñoz is a law clerk at and certified law student at SYK who graduated with honors from Lewis & Clark Law School in January 2020. She published a law review article in March 2020 dissecting the categorical approach to contested deportation proceedings.