Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on January 20, 2021. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Oregon

Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?

Are there any special protections for Oregon renters during the emergency?

You may be protected from eviction through Jan. 31 under the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Read more below to see if you’re protected.

Yes, Oregon law protects tenants from eviction through June 30, 2021 if they give their landlords a written declaration of their financial hardships.

Earlier the Oregon Governor suspended of all terminations and evictions, for nonpayment of rent, fees, or utilities. It lasted from April 1, 2020 and the Oregon legislature extended it to December 31, 2020.

For renters who submit a written declaration to their landlord: They have until July 1, 2021 to repay any rent or other charges accrued between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. These tenants will need to begin paying monthly rent under the terms of their rental agreement on July 1, 2021.

For renters who do not submit a written declaration to their landlord:

They have until March 30, 2021 to repay any rents or other charges accrued between April 1 and December 31, 2020. These tenants need to begin paying monthly rent under the terms of their rental agreement on January 1, 2021.

Renters in Portland and Multnomah County should check for extra protections here.

What do the eviction protections mean for Oregon renters?

The protections means that through June 30, 2021 in Oregon -- if you give your landlord a written document about your financial hardships:

  1. Your landlord cannot give you a notice of termination for nonpayment of rent, fees, or utilities, or a notice of termination without cause.
  2. Your landlord cannot file an eviction case in court against you that is based on nonpayment or a termination without cause.
  3. Hearings on eviction are not happening (unless the eviction is based on violent or outrageous conduct).
  4. The court cannot issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you (unless the eviction is based on violent or outrageous conduct).
  5. An existing eviction order may not be enforced against you if it is based on nonpayment or a termination without cause.

Renters in Portland and Multnomah County may have additional protections. Check for them here.

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, 2021 (or July 1, 2021 if you give your landlord a written declaration) 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.

If you live in Multnomah County and the City of Portland, you may have additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency. Go here 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 for nonpayment of rent or for no-cause reasons, as long as they give their landlord a written declaration about their hardships.

After the protection ends on June 30, 2021, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.

If you do not give your landlord a written declaration, then they may be able to evict you as of January 1, 2021.

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 eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.

Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.

Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:

  • Rent a home in the United States; AND
  • Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
  • Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
  • Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
  • Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
  • Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.

If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.

What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?

The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Jan. 31, 2021.

This means:

  • If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
  • You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:

  • Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
  • After the CDC Moratorium expires on Jan. 31, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:

  • Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
  • You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.

How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?

To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
  2. Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
  3. Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
  4. Protections through Jan. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
  5. If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
  6. You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Jan. 31, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
  7. Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.

If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through Oregon courts?

My landlord gave me an eviction notice

My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Oregon. What should I do?

You do not have to leave your home yet.

In Oregon, your landlord must give you a written notice before they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.

This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.

These are the Oregon requirements for a termination notice:

  1. The notice must be written down on paper. It cannot be an email or a text message.
  2. It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
  3. The notice must be personally served to you, mailed to you by first-class mail, or the rental agreement must permit the notice to be posted on your door and mailed to you.
  4. If the notice is for nonpayment, it has to say exactly how much rent you owe.
  5. If the notice is for nonpayment, it has to say that the rent must be fully paid on a specific date that’s no earlier than three days from the date the landlord gave you the notice. The notice can’t require you to pay any late fees or other charges to avoid eviction.
  6. If the notice is for something other than nonpayment, it has to say what the reason is for the termination, or that the termination is for no reason. If you’ve lived in your home for more than a year, the landlord may not give a notice for no reason, unless you and the landlord live in the same house or apartment, or the landlord lives on the same property and there are only two dwellings on the property.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Oregon?

A verbal conversation doesn't count as a "termination notice" in Oregon. To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.

Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

Do I have to leave my home in Oregon by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date?

No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the termination notice. You can choose to move out, and if you do there will be no eviction case filed against you if you move out before the date on the termination notice.

But you do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.

After the date on the termination notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Oregon. What if I can't afford to pay it?

How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in Oregon?

I've been sued in court for eviction

My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Oregon. What should I do?

You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Oregon, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:

  1. Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord cannot give you these papers — it has to be a person not involved in the case, like the sheriff, a deputy, or any competent person over 18.
  2. If you can’t be reached in person, the summons and complaint can also be posted on your door and mailed to you.
  3. The notice must have the date, time, and location for a First Appearance in a court.

You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Oregon?

In Oregon, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.

You must come to court in person on the date of the first appearance, or contact the court to make other arrangements. If you don’t respond to the eviction or show up in court, you will lose your case automatically, and the landlord can get an order to force you to leave your home.

Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Oregon?

You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.

You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.

Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.

Even if you make an agreement with your landlord, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.

You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.

Find local legal help in Oregon here.

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

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