COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 3, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerOregon Governor executive orderEWEB utility shutoffOregon CourtsPortland and Multnomah County local rulesHillsboro local rulesBeaverton local rulesOregon legislature eviction extension
- Are there any special protections for Oregon renters during the emergency? How long do they last?
Yes, the Oregon Governor ordered a suspension of all terminations and evictions, for nonpayment of rent, fees, or utilities, and on all terminations and evictions without cause. It went into effect on April 1, 2020 and the Oregon legislature extended it to end on September 30, 2020.
The legislature also gives renters until March 31, 2020 to repay back-rent that they could not pay because of COVID-19 hardships. Landlords are not allowed to charge late fees, or report renters' nonpayments to credit reporting agencies.
The Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court has suspended all evictions through July 1, 2020. These dates may be extended, check here for updates.
Some local Oregon counties and cities have limited the eviction moratorium to apply only to nonpayment of rent cases. Others have extended the eviction moratorium to stop any 'no-cause' eviction (that is not based on a breach of your lease). Check with your local government to see what their local rules are.
- What do the eviction protections mean for Oregon renters?
The protections means that through September 30, 2020 in Oregon:
- Your landlord cannot give you a notice of termination for nonpayment of rent, fees, or utilities, or a notice of termination without cause.
- Your landlord cannot file an eviction case in court against you that is based on nonpayment or a termination without cause.
- Hearings on eviction are not happening (unless the eviction is based on violent or outrageous conduct).
- The court cannot issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you (unless the eviction is based on violent or outrageous conduct).
- An existing eviction order may not be enforced against you if it is based on nonpayment or a termination without cause.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in Oregon?
Yes, Oregon renters still need to pay rent during the emergency. But renters cannot be evicted for nonpayment and landlords cannot charge late fees.
Oregon renters have until March 31, 2020 to repay back-rent that they could not pay because of COVID-19 hardships. Landlords are not allowed to charge you late fees, or report your nonpayment of rent to credit reporting agencies.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency. Go to OregonLawHelp.org for more information.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 emergency in Oregon?
Oregon renters cannot be evicted from their homes during the emergency period, for nonpayment of rent or for no-cause reasons.
Once the emergency period ends on September 30th, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Oregon?
Some Oregon utility companies have suspended shutoffs for nonpayment. Check with your local providers if you have any protections.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.