(This article is informational only, and is not intended as legal advice. Always consult with a competent attorney before undertaking any legal action.)
On April 1, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-13, which expands Oregon’s eviction moratorium based on the nonpayment of rent. The moratorium now covers commercial as well as residential tenancies, and imposes additional restrictions on landlords. The order is effective immediately, and will remain in effect for 90 days unless extended or terminated earlier by the governor.
For residential tenancies, the order now prohibits landlords from issuing ANY nonpayment notices for rent, utility charges, or other service charges or fees owed to the landlord, and prohibits issuing any no-cause eviction notices. Landlords are also prohibited from filing any nonpayment or no-cause eviction cases in court and from enforcing any existing nonpayment or no-cause eviction judgments. Tenants are still ultimately responsible for paying rent and other charges, although late fees are waived under the order. Landlords may still pursue for-cause evictions based on anything other than nonpayment.
For commercial tenancies, the order similarly prohibits landlords from issuing nonpayment notices or pursuing eviction court cases for rent, utility charges, or other charges owed under the lease or imposed by law. However, in order to qualify for these restrictions, commercial tenants do need to provide proof to their landlord within 30 days of rent being due that nonpayment is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Acceptable proof can be documentation showing loss of income in whole or part, directly or indirectly, due to any governmental restrictions imposed to mitigate the pandemic. Commercial tenants are ultimately responsible for eventually paying rent and other charges (except late fees), and landlords can still terminate commercial tenancies for causes other than nonpayment.
Both residential and commercial tenants are required to notify their landlord “as soon as reasonably possible” if they will be unable to pay rent when due. The order also requires all tenants to make partial rent payments to the extent the tenant is financially able to do so. (Although there is nothing in the way of an enforcement mechanism on this point.)
The governor’s order means that Oregon landlords must stop issuing all nonpayment and no-cause notices, stop filing nonpayment and no-cause cases in court, and put an indefinite hold on enforcing any pending nonpayment or no-cause eviction court cases. Any landlord found in violation can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, fined up to $1,250 or double the amount of rent/charges collected, and/or imprisoned for up to 30 days. Obviously, landlords should and now must work with their tenants on deferring rent payments and other charges during the COVID-19 crisis.