Starting at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 15 at David Douglas High School (1001 SE 135th Avenue, Portland, OR 97233), we are collaborating with the Oregon Law Center and Legal Aid Services of Oregon to host a free legal clinic to help tenants determine if they are eligible for relocation assistance as a result of the recently passed tenant protection ordinance. The clinic will also help tenants learn how to bring an action in Small Claims Court in Multnomah County if a landlord refuses to pay relocation assistance. We encourage tenants and service providers to attend.
David Douglas High School is close to TriMet stops for the #20 bus (SE Stark & 133rd) and the #73 bus (SE 122nd & Madison).
Summary of Ordinance
On Feb. 2, Portland City Council passed a milestone that mandates relocation assistance for involuntarily displaced tenants. Ordinance 188219 requires landlords to provide relocation assistance if they enact no-cause evictions or increase rent by 10 percent or more in a 12-month period. The amount tenants can receive depends on the size of their living space ($2,900 for a studio, $3,300 for one-bedroom units, $4,200 for two-bedroom units, and $4,500 for three-bedroom units or larger).
In the past few weeks, we have received numerous questions about the ordinance. While our Relocation Assistance Fact Sheet contains answers to many of these inquiries, we understand that some landlords and tenants are in unique circumstances and not all situations are easily resolvable. This piece will answer some specific inquiries we have received.
Going to Court
In cases where landlords are non-responsive or refusing to pay relocation fees, tenants may need to challenge their landlords in Small Claims Court. It’s important for landlords to know that if they lose in small claims court, they will be required to pay (1) relocation costs, (2) three months’ rent and (3) damages including attorney fees. Tenants might want to remind their landlords of these legal ramifications when notifying them of the relocation assistance requirement.
Relocation Assistance for Multiple Tenants
Many people would like to know how relocation assistance packages are divided amongst multiple tenants who share a single unit. Qualified relocation assistance amounts are based on the number of bedrooms in each unit, rather than the number of tenants. Similar to security deposit returns, the total sum of the relocation amount would be given to the primary lease holder and divided amongst fellow tenants as the leaseholder(s) sees fit.
For example, if relocation assistance was given to three tenants in a two-bedroom unit, each tenant would not receive $4,200. Rather, the total sum of $4,200 would be given to the primary leaseholder(s), who are then in charge of distributing that total amongst fellow roommates.
Single Unit vs. Single Property (With Multiple Units)
Property owners who own a single rental unit are exempt from paying relocation assistance. This includes owners who live in one part of a duplex and rent the other half to a tenant, someone who has an attached or detached ADU or a person who rents out a single family home. However, owners of multiple units, even if they exist within a single property, are not exempt.
In addition, affordable housing units that are under federal law are not subject to relocation assistance for rent increases, as federal law overrides city law. However, they are still subject to relocation assistance for no-cause evictions.
What is a No-Cause Eviction?
Eviction of a tenant who has not broken the lease terms is defined as a “no-cause eviction.” More information can be found here: https://www.osbar.org/public/legalinfo/1253_ResidentialEvictionNotices.htm
The law will continue to allow for just-cause eviction of tenants who are engaging in unlawful behavior, or who are otherwise breaking the conditions of their lease agreement. Tenants evicted for just-cause reasons would not qualify for relocation benefits.
If you have any other inquiries regarding the relocation ordinance or any other matters, our doors are open Monday-Friday, 8 AM – 5 PM, and we’re available at:
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please check back regularly. We plan on posting at least one new blog entry per week and feedback is always welcome.