Tenant Rights in Oregon

By Joseph Nicholson
Oregon
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Chapter 90 of the Oregon statutes contains the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Like several other states, Oregon rental property carries a warranty of habitability that ensures basic standards of safety, security and cleanliness. There are also protections for renters' privacy and notice requirements.

Habitability

Oregon law gives tenants the right to live in a habitable space. Habitability primarily concerns safety and sanitation. The exterior of the premises must be waterproof and all exterior doors must have working locks. The unit must have a heat source sufficient to heat the entire unit and hot and cold water that is safe to drink. There must be a working smoke detector, and the unit must be reasonably free of pests.

Privacy

As a tenant, you have a right to privacy in your rental or leased unit. Even though the landlord owns the property, he cannot enter your unit without 24-hour notice, except for emergency, requested repairs or if the rental agreement allows for entrance onto the grounds for yard work. You may deny the landlord entry if she fails to give notice, but you must honor all reasonable requests to enter the apartment if notice is given.

Rent

If the unit requires repairs, particularly if they violate the code of habitability, you are not required to make the repairs yourself. You must, however, give the landlord notice of the defect. If the landlord does not make the repairs in a reasonable time, you have the right to make the repair and deduct the amount from the rent. If the unit becomes uninhabitable, you have the right to withhold rent entirely after giving notice to the landlord. Enforcing this right, however, can lead to litigation and should be done under the advice of an attorney.

Notice

As a tenant you have a right to notice before your landlord terminates your lease. If you pay rent monthly, the landlord must give you at least 30 days' notice before terminating your tenancy. You also cannot be evicted without good reason. You can be up to 5 days late on the rent without adverse action by the landlord. After 5 days, the landlord can give you 144 hours' (6 days) notice to pay or vacate the premises. After 7 days, the landlord can give you 72 hours' notice to pay or leave.

Security Deposit

There's no limit to how much a landlord in Oregon can charge for the security deposit. Nor does the landlord have to pay interest on the security deposit. However, the landlord cannot increase the amount of the deposit in the middle of a lease or rental term unless the two of you agree to alter the terms, such as to allow a pet. The landlord must refund your deposit within 31 days of the end of the lease and must notify you in writing to explain any part of the deposit withheld. If the deposit is retained inappropriately, you can sue the landlord in small claims court to recover double the amount withheld.

About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.