There have been several changes to Oregon housing legislation in recent years. While many bills increased protections for renters, they also created complications for landlords. Oregon Senate Bill 608 (SB 608) is one such piece of legislature. The law took effect in February 2019, and the changes it enacted are dramatic.
Even a glance over the text of SB 608 might be daunting for property managers who just want to know how the bill affects them. Here at Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we want to give you the tools you need to succeed. So we’ve broken down the basics of SB 608 in this brief overview. By arming yourself with knowledge, you can navigate the ever-changing Portland rental market.
The Broad Effects
SB 608 is primarily focused on two things: no-cause evictions and rent control. These loaded terms can raise the hackles of both renters and landlords. An eviction is often the worst-case scenario, whether you’re a property owner or a tenant. Though no landlord wants to be driven to evict, it doesn’t always work out that way.
SB 608 affected the circumstances a landlord can serve a no-cause eviction. After a tenant has lived on your property for over one year, you can only serve them a no-cause eviction under certain circumstances. Though Oregon law requires 30 days’ notice of an eviction, Portland law requires 90 days.
The other side of SB 608’s changes is rent control. Some people see rent control as an important protection from skyrocketing rent. Others see it as a shackle on the rental market. Through work sessions and public hearings, SB 608 engineered a compromise between tenants and renters. The final verdict was that each year Portland property owners could raise rents by seven percent plus the West Coast Consumer Price Index.
Those are the basics. But let’s take a deeper dive into the details of SB 608, and all the important elements Portland landlords need to know.
No-Cause Evictions: What, When, and How
A no-cause eviction is when a landlord serves a tenant with an unprompted eviction notice. On the other end of the spectrum is a just cause eviction, when the landlord evicts a tenant because they failed to pay rent or violated the lease. There are many reasons landlords would serve a no-cause eviction, and SB 608 addresses a few of them directly. So when can landlords employ a no-cause eviction? In the first year of tenancy, a landlord can give 90 days notice of a no-cause eviction. But after the first year, there are only certain circumstances in which a no-cause eviction can be served:
- The unit is being demolished.
- You intend to use the unit for something other than a residence.
- You’re making renovations or repairs that will make the property unsafe to inhabit.
- You or your family plan to move in.
- Someone bought the unit and intends to move in.
An important thing to remember about no-cause evictions is that you may be required to pay relocation assistance. This means paying your tenant a hefty fee on top of the 90 days’ notice. You don’t have to pay this assistance if you own four or fewer units, rent week to week, or live on the same property as your tenant.
If your tenant has lived in your property for more than a year, it’s important to keep these considerations in mind. But there’s more to know about SB 608 than just its effect on evictions: it also had a significant impact on what you can charge in rent.
SB 608 Strictly Monitors Rent Increases
SB 608 was the first statewide rent control measure in the nation. Though some believe rent control originated in the time of Julius Caesar, it arose in America from housing shortages in the wake of the two World Wars. The push and pull of housing supply and demand has long been a contentious issue between renters and property owners. SB 608 lay some restrictions on those fluctuations.
A landlord cannot increase the rent during a tenant’s first year of occupancy. After that, the rent increases allowed under SB 608 are seven percent plus inflation. In 2019 the allowed rental increase was 10.3 percent; in 2020, it is 9.9 percent. As with evictions, landlords must give tenants 90 days’ notice of a rent increase.
Properties built in the last 15 years are excluded from this requirement. Subsidized affordable housing developments remain with their own preexisting rent controls.
Written by Darla Andrew