Q: As an attorney who often represents landlords, what are your thoughts on Oregon's eviction moratorium, and now, extension?
I understand the reasoning behind the moratorium as it was put forth with good intentions; however, I believe it was a knee-jerk, one-size-fits-all reaction that will create long-term negative consequences for both landlords and tenants.
Q: Have you encountered any creative arrangements made between landlords and tenants during the pandemic?
I have. While the moratorium specifies things a landlord cannot do during this time (i.e. charge a late fee), the moratorium does not prevent landlords and tenants from agreeing to creative alternative solutions based on their own specific scenarios and needs. Some landlords have given tenants rent discounts to encourage tenants to make at least partial payments. This lessens the burden for tenants both now and in the future, and also provides relief for landlords as it generates some revenue. Landlords who need a tenant to vacate a rental (for various reasons) have paid tenants an agreed upon sum of money to leave peaceably. There is nothing wrong with paying a tenant to vacate a rental. In this scenario, I recommend taking extra precautions such as having the tenant vacate the property and return the property keys before this payment is made on the part of the landlord.
Q: What advice do you offer to landlords who aren't receiving rent payments?
Many landlords are not receiving rent payments yet still owe mortgage payments on the property. Oregon legislators have passed a bill prohibiting lenders from initiating foreclosures. However, I encourage landlords to contact their mortgage lenders as soon as possible if unable to make mortgage payments. Some lenders may be willing to work with borrowers in more creative ways to prevent an accumulation of owed mortgage payments.
Q: What do you foresee being the biggest challenge(s) when the governor's executive order expires?
The most obvious challenge is how tenants will make up missed rental payments. The moratorium does not waive rental payments; it merely prevents landlords from charging late fees or initiating eviction proceedings due to non-payment of rent during this state of emergency. Tenants are still on the hook for all missed payments and will have a limited amount of time to make up those payments. In my opinion, the reality of the situation is this: rental rates in Portland and the surrounding area are high, many tenants have either lost employment or have had income dramatically reduced during the pandemic, and many tenants (even pre-COVID) live paycheck-to-paycheck. For many tenants, making up missed payments will likely be impossible, despite allowing a six-month grace period to so.
Eric specializes in Business Law and Real Estate Law at Barbur Law, LLC
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