Important Deadlines Loom For Landlords Under Portland Residential Renter Protection Ordinance

2/20/2017byTheodore Herzog, David Petersen | Tonkon Torp LLP

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For a very limited time, residential landlords can rescind some pending Notices of Termination and Notices of Rent Increases that would otherwise trigger Relocation Assistance under Portland’s new Renter Protection Ordinance.

The Portland City Council passed Ordinance No. 188219 on February 2, 2017 requiring residential landlords to pay “Relocation Assistance” to residential tenants when the landlord decides not to renew an expiring fixed term rental agreement or terminates a month-to-month rental agreement for reasons other than “for cause.” The Relocation Assistance payments range from $2,900 to $4,500 per dwelling unit affected, depending on the number of bedrooms in the dwelling unit. The requirement for Relocation Assistance can also be triggered if a residential landlord increases the rent by 10% or more within a 12-month period and the affected tenant then notifies the landlord that the tenant chooses to terminate the rental agreement.

Many residential landlords were surprised to learn that the City Council made the ordinance effective immediately upon its adoption on February 2, 2017, substantially changing the economics of actions taken before the ordinance existed. Affected landlords have a very limited time to rescind notices of termination that were given on or before February 2, 2017 but for which the affected rental agreement has not yet terminated. The deadline is 30 days from the ordinance’s effective date, conservatively calculated to be on or before Friday, March 3, 2017.

Residential landlords can also rescind rent increases (or reduce them so they don’t increase rent by 10% or more) put into effect on or before February 2, 2017 for which the tenants have timely notified the landlord that they are choosing to terminate their rental agreement under the ordinance. The deadline for a landlord to rescind or reduce such a rent increase is within 14 days after the tenant notifies the landlord that the tenant is terminating the rental agreement due to the rent increase.

The Renter Protection Ordinance does not apply to all residential rental agreements. There are, for instance, limited exclusions for week-to-week tenancies, certain temporary rentals of a landlord’s residence, and for residential landlords with only one dwelling unit for rent in the City. Landlords and tenants should seek legal assistance to interpret their rights and obligations under the ordinance and the various notices described in it.