Advisories & Insights

Maintaining a Fortress of Solitude in Uncertain Times

March, 2020
By Amanda Bryan

Oregon's Response to Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As COVID-19 causes ripple effects in our social interactions, our economy, and our vocabulary, federal, state, and local officials are all grappling with how best to protect the health and welfare of individuals. Maintaining housing has emerged as a key issue addressed in the response to COVID-19. 

On March 22, Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order No. 20-11 which put a temporary moratorium on all residential evictions for nonpayment of rent. Multnomah County also enacted Ordinance No. 1282 which placed a moratorium on residential evictions in the county and added a prohibition on late fees and a six-month payback period if the tenant complied with certain requirements.

These two moratoriums prevent evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that landlords and tenants understand which rules apply to the property in question and what they are required to do in order to comply. Below is a list of questions and brief answers that may help. 

1. How does the state moratorium work?
Law enforcement officers who would normally serve the notice of eviction are prohibited from delivering or acting on notices, orders, or writs terminating tenancy if that eviction is based on nonpayment of rent. The state moratorium is for all evictions for non-payment of rent regardless of whether the inability to pay is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. How does the Multnomah County Ordinance moratorium work?
A tenant must demonstrate a substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and notify the landlord of the inability to pay rent before the day that rent is due. The landlord will then be prohibited from evicting the tenant or imposing late fees. The tenant will have six months from the date the Executive Rule expires to pay back the late rent.

3. Does the tenant have to prove economic hardship?
Under the state-wide Executive Order, there is no requirement that a tenant proves economic hardship or lack of funds due to the effects of COVID-19. 

Under the Multnomah County Ordinance, the tenant must demonstrate "substantial loss of income" and notify the landlord before the day rent is due.

4. How long will the moratorium last?
The state-wide Executive Order lasts for 90 days (June 20, 2020) but might be extended.The Multnomah County Ordinance lasts until April 10, 2020, but is likely to be extended. 

5. Can a tenant still be evicted for other reasons?
Yes. Under both the state and county rule, if the reason to evict a tenant is based on something other than failure to pay rent, the tenant can still be evicted.

6. What about late fees?
The state-wide Executive Order does not prohibit late fees. 

The Multnomah County Ordinance prohibits a landlord from collecting late fees.

7. Will the tenant ever have to pay the missed rent?
Yes. Neither the state-wide Executive Order nor the Multnomah County Ordinance relieves tenants of the responsibility for unpaid rent. 

Under the Multnomah County Ordinance, tenants must pay the unpaid rent within six months of the expiration of the Executive Rule.

8. Will there be financial relief for tenants after the moratorium is lifted?
State and county officials are still considering options to assist renters. There is currently no program to assist renters.

9. Will there be financial relief for landlords who have not received payment?
State and county officials are still considering options to assist landlords. There is currently no program to assist landlords.

10. Will evictions for mortgage foreclosures continue?
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office has committed to not enforcing any evictions if it will cause a person to be without housing during the COVID-19 crisis. The Governor is exploring state and federal policy options to assist borrowers. There is currently no state-wide program to assist borrowers.

11. Do the moratoriums apply to commercial renters?
No. And, State officials have not announced any relief for commercial renters but they are exploring options to assist businesses in securing loans to meet shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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