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City of Portland Relocation Assistance Update - Effective Dec. 14, 2020

Portland/SW Washington ,

Effective December 14, 2020, the Administrative Rules for mandatory relocation assistance exemptions, eligibility for exemptions and the approval process for exemptions has changed. New language has been adopted limiting and further clarifying when and how Landlords may qualify for an exemption from the relocation requirements under PCC 30.01.085. The exemptions are very limited in scope and likely will not apply to many Landlords.

As a reminder, Landlords in Portland must pay relocation assistance to Tenants when:

  1. Declining to renew a lease on substantially the same terms (except for rent and associated housing costs);
  2. Increasing rent 10% or more in a 12 month period;
  3. Issuing a no-cause notice of termination; and/or
  4. Issuing a Qualifying Landlord Reason notice of termination.

This is an extremely risky and complex area of the law due to the high penalties associated with violation of this Ordinance. As such, it is strongly advised that Landlords consult with counsel prior to taking any action related to exemption from the relocation ordinances.

The process for qualification for exemption from the obligation to pay relocation fees to Tenants (which ranges from $2900-$4500 per household, based on size of unit) has been changed as follows:

Relocation Applications

When submitting an application to Portland Housing Bureau for an exemption, property manager or agents of the owner must submit written documentation of their authority to act on behalf of the owner of the property along with the application materials. A new application must be submitted each time an exemption is requested.

Exemption Requirements

Landlords are required to submit an application to Portland Housing Bureau when requesting the following types of exemptions:

  1. Tenants that occupy one dwelling unit in a duplex where the Landlord’s principal residence for the last 6 months is the second dwelling unit in the same duplex;
  2. Tenants that occupy an Accessory Dwelling Unit so long as the owner’s principal residence for the past 6 months is on the same legal lot;
  3. In cases of termination notices, Landlords temporarily renting out the Landlord’s principal residence for no more than three years and the owners of the dwelling unit have an ownership interest in less than 4 dwelling units. The owner’s absence is measured from the last date they maintained the dwelling unit as a principal residence until the date they return to the dwelling unit. Owners must also move in within 60 days of the Tenant moving out and must either maintain the dwelling unit as a principal residence for 12 months after moving in, or sell the dwelling unit.
  4. In cases of termination notices, Landlords that temporarily rent out the Landlord’s principal residence during the Owner’s (or Owner’s spouse or domestic partner’s) absence due to active duty military service. Owners must also move within 60 days of the Tenant moving out and must maintain the dwelling unit as their principal residence.
  5. In cases of termination notices when the Landlord is terminating the rental agreement in order for an immediate family member to occupy the dwelling unit. The owners of the dwelling unit must have an ownership interest in less than 4 dwelling units and the owner or Landlord cannot reside in the dwelling unit for 24 months after the exemption is granted. Owners of the dwelling unit, their domestic partners or spouses or prior owners (within the previous 12 months) do not qualify as immediate family members in this context. The immediate family member must be at least 18 years of age, move in within 60 days of the Tenant moving out and must maintain the dwelling unit as their principal residence for 24 months.
  6. In cases of termination notices for dwelling units rented for less than 6 months with appropriate verification of submission of a demolition permit prior to Tenant renting the dwelling unit.
  7. In cases of termination of fixed term tenancies or for month to month tenancies that converted from a fixed term tenancy upon expiration of the term where the Landlord notified the Tenant prior to the tenancy of their intent to sell or permanently convert the dwelling unit to a use other than as a dwelling unit. This exemption cannot be used for month-to-month rentals that did not begin as a fixed term lease, renewals or replacements of leases.

The process for obtaining an exemption is as follows:

  • Step One: Submit the required exemption application form to the Portland Housing Bureau.
  • Step Two: Await receipt of an Acknowledgement Letter from Portland Housing Bureau authorizing the exemption.
  • Step Three: For new rental agreements (except #4 and #5 above), provide a copy of all pages of the Acknowledgement Letter prior to entering into rental agreement.
  • Step Four: Prior to issuing a notice of termination of tenancy or other triggering event, provide a copy of all pages of the Acknowledgement Letter to Tenants.

Landlords are not required to submit an application to Portland Housing Bureau for an exemption from the relocation payment requirements if using the following types of exemptions:

  • Rental agreements for week to week tenancies
  • Tenants occupying the same dwelling unit as Landlords subject to the following conditions:
    1. If the Landlord decides to move in after execution of the rental agreement, the Landlord must provide a written notice to the applicability of this exemption and a description of the Tenant’s Rights and Obligations (can be a copy of the ordinance) prior to Landlord moving into dwelling unit; and
    2. The owner of the dwelling unit uses it as their principal residence for 6 months prior to claiming the exemption.
  • Dwelling units regulated or certified as affordable housing by a federal, state or local government that increase rent more than 10% within a 12 month rolling period so long as the rent increase does not increase the Tenant’s portion more than 10% or lease agreements provide that rent or eligibility is periodically calculated based on Tenants’ income or other program requirements. This exemption does not apply to private, market-rate Landlords with Tenants receiving federal, state or local government housing vouchers.
  • Dwelling units subject to the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970. Landlords must, however, prior to a triggering event, provide written notification to Tenants of the applicability of this exemption and a description of the Tenant’s Rights and Obligations (can be a copy of the ordinance).
  • Dwelling units rendered immediately uninhabitable not due to the action or inaction of a Landlord or Tenant. This includes, but not limited to natural (flood or fire) or “man-made” disasters (gas explosion).

As stated above, this is a highly technical Ordinance with penalties assessed to Landlords not following the requirements exactly. Assistance of counsel is strongly recommended for any Landlord considering trying to use an exemption.

This letter is not intended as legal advice. Please obtain advice of an attorney for any policy change or decisions regarding residential and commercial Landlord-Tenant matters. We hope you are doing well and staying safe.