Multifamily NW 2021 Legislative Achievements

Posted By: Jonathan Clay Central Oregon, Industry News, Mid-Willamette Valley, Portland/SW Washington, SWV News,

The 2021 Session considered 2,491 bills. Multifamily NW actively tracked hundreds of bills effecting the rental housing industry. SB 282 and SB 278 were the highest profile and most comprehensive industry bills passed by the Legislature in 2021.

Despite high partisanship of Democratic supermajorities in both the House, the Senate and a Democratic Governor, Multifamily NW cultivated savvy and constructive relationships across legislative offices, key committees as well as with both majority and minority leadership members.

These working relationships were critical to establishing our esteemed reputation and leverage as our lobby and PR team spent the last six months pressing every angle to influence and create the best possible outcomes. This constant advocacy during the 2021 Legislative Session is even more remarkable considering the avalanche of truly bad housing policy bills that our industry faced during the last six months.

Defeated bills:

SB 838 would have required a landlord registry operated by the Secretary of State office, similar to business licenses.

HB 3263 attempted to mandate a first right of refusal to organized residents when owners of multifamily property intend to sell the property.

HB 2372 would have eliminated housing provider’s ability to issue End of Tenancy “without state cause” termination notices.

HB 2735 would have forced housing providers of properties with 11+ units to disclose a BOLI-produced housing discrimination disclosure to existing and new tenants.

HB 2577 attempted to allow local jurisdiction rent control.

HB 2427 would have directed OHCS to establish and maintain a uniform Rental Application for all rental housing in Oregon.

HB 2761 tried to mandate Rental Agreements and all addenda for manufactured housing parks to be translated into the 5 most commonly spoken languages (other than English).

HB 2484 would have required housing providers to allow single family dwelling rentals to be used for childcare.

SB 852 would have prohibited the personal mortgage interest deduction for residences other than the taxpayer’s principal residence, with some exceptions.

Defeated bills Multifamily NW strongly advocated for:

SB 330 would have established an income tax credit for a housing provider’s forgiveness of tenant’s nonpayment during the eviction moratorium.

HB 3306 would have allowed the housing provider and resident to agree on a reoccurring charge in lieu of a security deposit.

SB 327 would have allowed easier sub-metered utility billing for rental tenancies.

Multifamily NW happily celebrates the successes of the 2021 Session. Still, it’s important to bear in mind the themes of defeated bills from the 2021 Session will likely be reoccurring in future sessions:

  • Statewide Landlord Registry
  • Statewide Rental Application
  • Further limits to End of Tenancy options
  • Mandated language translation for rental forms
  • Further rent control limits
  • First right of refusal for property sales

Industry Related Bills Passed by Legislature

SB 291 modifies the criteria that a landlord may consider when screening an applicant, and requires landlords to conduct individualized assessment and consider supplemental evidence from applicant before denying an application for housing on the basis of criminal history. The measure clarifies that a landlord may only consider criminal convictions or pending charges for conduct that is currently illegal under Oregon law. It requires landlords to inform applicants who pay a screening fee of the screening and admission criteria, and of the applicant's right to appeal a negative determination, if such right to appeal exists. Finally, it requires landlords to provide written notice to applicants subject to screening or admission criteria of the reasons for denial. Click here for SB 291 synopsis.

HB 3113 clarifies that a landlord who rents a dwelling unit regulated as affordable housing by a federal, state, or local government is exempt from rent increase limits if the change in rent does not increase tenant's portion of the rent or is required by program eligibility requirements or by a change in tenant's income.

HB 2364 updates the terms and process for tenants’ first right of refusal to purchase a manufactured housing park.

HB 2180 amends state building code to require new construction of buildings to include electrical capacity for percentage of parking spaces.

HB 2077 will give greater enforcement tools for Lead-Based Paint activities and renovations.

HB 2583 prohibits local governments from establishing or enforcing maximum occupancy limits in residential dwellings based on familial or nonfamilial relationships among occupants.

HB 3261 limits local government restriction of conversions of certain properties into emergency shelters or affordable housing.

HB 2703 requires a 3-credit hour Fair Housing course to be a part of the 30 credit hours of continuing education required for licensed Brokers and Property Managers.

SB 282 – Tenant Credit Reporting

A Landlord may not report, or cause to be reported, to any consumer credit reporting agency a Tenant’s nonpayment of rent, charges or fees that accrued on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 1, 2021.

SB 282 – Applicant Screening

When evaluating an applicant, a Landlord may not consider an eviction case that resulted in a general judgment against the applicant that was entered on claims that arose on or after April 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2022, even if those claims related to issues other than the non-payment balance.

Additionally, a Landlord may not consider an applicant’s unpaid rent, including rent reflected in judgments or referrals of debt to a collection agency that accrued on or after April 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2022.

SB 282 – Expanded Tenants Rights to Set Aside Judgement

An evicted Tenant may set aside (i.e. expunge) the eviction judgment if they have satisfied any money award included in the judgment and either

(a) Five years have passed from the date of the judgment; or

(b) The judgment was based on claims that arose on or after April 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2022, regardless of the basis of the eviction. 

SB 282 – Restriction on Guest Stays Unenforceable

Landlords may not enforce an occupancy restriction by any means, including assessing a fee or terminating the tenancy, if the restriction is based on a) occupancy limits lower than the amount required by federal, state or local law or regulation or b) the maximum duration of a guest’s stay in the tenancy.

If a Tenant’s guest resides in the dwelling unit more than 15 days in any 12-month period, a Landlord may require:

  • The guest to satisfy the Tenant screening criteria other than criteria related to credit reports, credit references or income; and
  • The Tenant and the guest enter into a temporary occupancy agreement, except that the Landlord may not require that the agreement end prior to February 28, 2022.

While guests may now be able to stay in excess of prohibited timelines, Landlords may still assess fees or terminate the tenancy if the guest commits lease violations, refuses to be screened, fails screening, or refuses to enter into a temporary occupancy agreement and fails to vacate. Acceptance of a payment by a Landlord from the Tenant or guest does not make the guest a Tenant. 

SB 282 – Termination Without Cause

  • On July 1, 2021, Landlords may terminate tenancies without cause for Tenants whose first year of occupancy was within the emergency period until August 31, 2021.
  • However, due to the protections afforded Tenants in HB 4401, Landlords should not issue no-cause notices without first consulting with an attorney. 

SB 278 - Synopsis

SB 278 was a last minute “gut & stuff” bill whose original version was pure Machiavellian powerplay. Powerful Multifamily NW advocacy secured the necessary amendments to strip the worst language of fines and penalties, ensure new funding to compensate for arrearages beginning July 1, 2021, and finally secure 100% of the Landlord Compensation Fund (LCF) dollars that previously limited housing provider compensation to only 80% of Eviction Moratorium arrearages (April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021).

SB 278 – Additional Disclosure

You must deliver new notice language with any termination for nonpayment of any charges and any summons for an eviction based on nonpayment given to the Tenant. The language has been added to nonpayment termination notices in the Multifamily NW Forms Collection.

SB 278 – Effect of Delivery of Documentation

If a Tenant provides the Landlord with documentation that the Tenant has applied for rental assistance, a Landlord may not deliver a termination notice for nonpayment or initiate or continue an action for possession based on the termination notice for nonpayment for 60 days.  

Documentation includes electronic mail, a screenshot or other written electronic documentation from a rental assistance provider verifying the submission of an application for rental assistance.  

The courts will dismiss an eviction case for nonpayment if: 

  • The Landlord did not attach the required notice; 
  • The Tenant’s nonpayment was substantially caused by the Landlord’s failure to reasonably participate with a rental assistance program (this does not require that you apply for the Landlord Compensation fund); 
  • The Landlord receives rental assistance covering the rent owed in the termination notice; 
  • The Tenant provided the documentation before the case was filed. However, if the Tenant provides the documentation at any time after the Landlord filed the case and at or before the first appearance, the court will postpone the first appearance for at least 60 days. 

SB 278 – Reissuing a Termination for Nonpayment if Balance is Not Paid 

If 60 days have passed since the Tenant provided the documentation, a Landlord may issue a new termination notice. If the matter was already filed with the court and the case was postponed for 60-days, the court must promptly set the matter for trial at the reset first appearance. 

SB 278 – Penalties 

If a Landlord violates SB 278, a Tenant may obtain injunctive relief to recover possession or address any other violation. The Landlord’s failure to comply may also be used as a defense in an FED. Finally, if an FED is dismissed based on SB 278, a Tenant is not entitled to a prevailing party fee, costs or attorney fees if the Landlord delivered all notices as required, did not know or have reasonable cause to know that the Tenant had provided documentation when the FED was filed and the Landlord promptly dismissed the FED when they became aware that the Tenant provided the documentation.  

SB 278 – New Source of Landlord Compensation

If a Tenant’s application is denied or the 60-day period described above expires without payment, Landlords may apply to an agent of the Oregon Housing and Community Services for nonpayment that accrued during the delay. This source of rental assistance is different that Landlord Compensation Fund (LCF) created by HB 4401.  

SB 278 – Increased LCF Funding 

The LCF will now reimburse applicants for 100% of any unpaid rent awarded.  This will apply retroactively to Landlords who have already been approved in the first two rounds without requiring any additional request. It will also apply to any Landlords who submitted applications for Round 3 of the LCF program that are approved.