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URM Update: Federal judge orders 2-month delay enforcing Portland's URM Rules

Posted By: Leah Sykes Industry News , Advocacy Alerts , Portland/SW Washington ,

UPDATE 2/15/2019: A federal judge ordered a two-month delay for a Portland ordinance that would require warnings in buildings vulnerable to earthquakes while the City Council considers a replacement ordinance. Currently this would push back disclosure and placarding requirements in URM bulidings from March 1, 2019 to May 1, 2019. 

Download PDF courtsey of GreenspoonMarder, LLC

New Portland Ordinance #189201 – Relevant for City of Portland Landlords ONLY

The City of Portland has passed a new Ordinance impacting communications to Residents regarding earthquake preparedness.  Landlords in the City of Portland with Unreinforced Masonry buildings have additional requirements for placing placards and notification of residents by specific timelines regarding buildings and Landlords should be sure to adhere to these requirements to avoid enforcement actions from the City of Portland.  

An Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Building is a building with at least one URM bearing wall that provides support for floor or roof framing.   If Landlords are unsure about whether or not their building has been deemed URM, verification can be obtained at (City of Portland URM database).  

The ordinance requires that:

   1. A placard be posted on all URM buildings that reads: “This is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.”

   2. Every lease or rental agreement entered into or renewed after the timeline for placarding noted below, must contain a statement that: “This Building is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.”

   3. Building owners must “record” an agreement not to remove the placard and acknowledgment of compliance with tenant notification requirements

To “record” the agreement, URM building owners must provide the following evidence of compliance to BDS: Complete an executed “Agreement Not To Remove Placard and Acknowledgement of Compliance with Tenant Notification Requirements” letter, which can be found online at:  A photograph of the placard on the building must be included with the letter and sent to BDS or submitted online at

The timeline for implementation of the above three requirements is as follows: 

Publicly-owned buildings: On or before January 1, 2019

Non-profit buildings: On or before November 1, 2020

All other buildings: On or before March 1, 2019


Placards must; 

  • Be at least 8”x10” inches
  • Have lettering in at least 50-point bold font
  • Be posted in a conspicuous location on the exterior at the main entrance with the following language: “This is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.”

Landlords with additional questions or concerns about the Ordinance should consult counsel for further clarification.  Additional information is also provided by the City of Portland at:


This Portland URM Ordinance summary was graciously provided by the attorneys of GreenspoonMarder, LLC.

Leah Sykes
Aaron Matusick
Bill Edgar
Marcel Gesmundo