How to Evict Your Roommate in Oregon

Woman frustrated at lazy roommate using digital tablet on sofa
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Having a roommate is a great option for saving money on rent, but it doesn’t always work out. A tenant can always ask a roommate to move out if they are still in an amicable relationship, but if they aren’t, problems can occur.

Under Oregon landlord-tenant law, a tenant cannot just change the locks to get rid of their roommate. Whether or not the roommate is also on the lease as a co-tenant, the tenant may need to ask their landlord for assistance in the eviction process.

How to Evict Roommates on a Lease

If both renters have signed the lease, the tenant cannot evict their roommate themselves – they’ll need to ask the landlord to start the eviction process, but they’ll need a reason. Oregon law dictates that the roommate can live out the term of their lease, unless the landlord has probable cause to evict them.

Types of probable cause include:

  • Late payment of rent:‌ While there may be a grace period outlined in the lease, Oregon considers nonpayment on the 4th day after rent is due as late. The landlord sends the tenant notice with a deadline to pay rent. If the tenant pays

the unpaid rent

within that time period, they cannot be evicted for

nonpayment of rent.

  • Lease violation:‌ This includes anything from disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants, damaging the unit, or having unauthorized people live in the unit. In this instance, the landlord gives the tenant a 30-Day Notice to Comply. If the tenant does not fix the problem within 14 days, the tenant must move by day 30 or face eviction.
  • Pet damage:‌ If an unauthorized pet lives on the property, the landlord gives the tenant the opportunity to remove the pet or move out. If the pet has done minor damage, the landlord will give the tenant 10 days to remove the pet or move. If the damage is major, they have just 24 hours.
  • Drugs and alcohol:‌ A landlord can evict a renter who lives in a substance-free rental unit if they possess or share drugs or alcohol. They will be given 48 hours notice to fix the problem or move, but will have 24 hours to correct the issue or they must vacate.
  • Illegal activity:‌ This is a wide range of behaviors involving criminal activity. The tenant must move within 24 hours.

Termination Without Cause in Oregon

The landlord can evict a renter without cause in only two instances. The first is in a month-to-month tenancy during the first year of occupancy. In that instance, the landlord needs to give the renter a notice of 30 days to move. If the renter has lived on the property for more than a year, the landlord must have probable cause.

If the tenancy is fixed but ends before the first year of occupancy, the landlord can give the renter just 30 days to move. After the first year of the renter’s occupancy, the fixed-term tenancy becomes a month-to-month relationship, unless both parties agree to a new lease. If that doesn't happen, the landlord must have probable cause to terminate the tenancy.

Self-help or Retaliatory Evictions

A landlord must go through the eviction process in the courts – they cannot conduct self-help or retaliatory evictions. If they do, the tenant they attempt to evict can sue them in court.

Examples of prohibited self-help evictions include:

  • Changing a unit’s locks.
  • Turning off utilities.
  • Making threats to shut off essential services to the tenant.
  • Removing the tenant’s

personal property.

What Is a Subtenant?

Subleasing or subtenancy allows a person who lives in a leased apartment to rent to someone else. Oregon state law does not allow a person to sublet their unit for more than three days unless the tenant, the subtenant and the landlord enter into an agreement. At that point, the tenant becomes the “master tenant” and acts as the subtenant’s landlord.

If a person’s original lease agreement doesn’t allow for subtenants, the original tenant cannot let another individual live in the rental property without an agreement; a renter with an unauthorized roommate in their unit can find themselves evicted.

A sublet rental agreement should include:

  • Provision requiring the subtenant to pay the landlord directly.
  • Description of other fees or charges, such as utilities.
  • Provision giving the subtenant the same rights as master tenant, such as a habitable and clean living space.
  • Provision protecting the subtenant from a landlord’s retaliatory action.

Evicting a Subtenant in Oregon

As the master tenant, a renter can evict a subtenant, but the landlord cannot. However, if the landlord wants the subtenant to leave, they would likely attempt to evict the tenant in order to also get rid of the subtenant.

The master tenant could evict a subtenant in the same way the landlord would evict a regular tenant – by giving them a written eviction notice. Similarly, the master tenant can’t act in a retaliatory manner or use self-help eviction techniques to rid themselves of subtenants.

Evicting an Unauthorized Tenant in Oregon

A landlord can evict an unauthorized person in a unit, with just 24 hours’ written notice, including the reason for the eviction and the date and time.

The landlord can seek possession of the unit if the original tenant has already vacated it, their lease did not allow for a subtenant, or the landlord never knowingly took rent payments from the unauthorized person. The unauthorized person does not have a right to tenancy if they receive this notice.