What’s the deal with evictions in Oregon?
What started out as a feel good story took an unfortunate turn for this Salem, Oregon resident.
Sherrie Baldwin, 62, returned to her mobile home one afternoon to find that one of her 24 bearded dragons (yes, two dozen) was floating unconscious in it’s own small bathing pool. Thinking on her feet, she immediately administered a modified version of CPR to bring her pet back to life.
Soon after, the local press caught word of her miracle, and from there, it spread like wildfire—even reaching the pages of the New York Post. Everyone in America now knew Sherrie as the bearded dragon whisperer…including her property manager.
As it turns out, he was less interested in her recent fame, and more concerned with the sheer number of pets she was caring for in her mobile home. Apparently, Sherrie only listed that she had one dog in the rental agreement. But by the time her story hit the news circuits, she was caring for 3 dogs, 1 tortoise, and 24 bearded dragons.
The property manager had no choice but to start the eviction process as a safety precaution. It turns out that a majority of the bearded dragons had parasites that could’ve been transmitted to other vertebrate animals including humans.
If you have a tenant like Sherrie who broke a lease agreement, you shouldn’t hesitate to start the eviction process — even if the tenant is not purposely trying to break the agreement. Oregon state law has outlined a process that is fair to both the tenant and the property manager. If they are meant to be your tenant, everything will work out in the end.
Find out what you must do when you discover your tenant is breaking the lease agreement.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
If you have a tenant like Sherrie, that means they have broken one of the three cardinal tenancy rules in the state of Oregon. A tenant can only be evicted for three reasons in Oregon:
- If the tenant has violated the lease agreement. This includes but is not limited to ignoring the utility bills, not paying late fees, or caring for 24 bearded dragons.
- If the tenant has not paid rent in a timely manner.
- If the tenant has intentionally committed a malicious act. Malicious acts include injuring a guest, damaging the property, or committing an act that is “outrageous in the extreme.”
Caution: Just because your tenant has broken a “cardinal rule” does not mean the eviction proceedings can begin right away. It is very important to follow eviction procedures in Oregon, which are outlined below.
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
Tenants cannot be evicted as a form of retaliation. Just because they reported a health code violation or joined a tenant union, they cannot be evicted.
Do not try to evict someone for any reason that can be viewed as discriminatory. Discrimination against race, religion, gender, nationality, familial status, or disability will not make it to court.
What is the process normally like?
Before jumping right into the process, there are some procedures that you will always want to avoid. You may think these will speed up the process, but it will only prolong it in the end.
Never try to move the eviction process along through “self-help” procedures. Changing the locks or shutting off utilities will create more headaches. In addition, always provide a written notice before you file a complaint in court. If you go to the court first, you will just be required to start the process over from the beginning.
- The eviction process always starts with a written notice. But the contents of the notice vary depending on what the violation is.
- For violation of lease agreement, provide tenant a 30-day written notice the moment the violation is discovered. The tenant has 14 days to fix the violation. If they remedy the violation, the eviction cannot proceed. If they don’t or are unwilling to, then the eviction proceeding can start when the notice period is up.
- For nonpayment of rent, provide tenant a written notice either five or eight days after rent was due. If written notice is given on day five, the tenant has six days to pay rent in full. If it is given on day eight, the tenant has three days to pay rent in full. Only if the rent is paid within that designated time window, can the eviction process be called off.
- For committing a malicious act, provide the tenant with a 24-hour written notice. The eviction proceeding will then begin.
- When the written notice time window is up, file a request with the court for Forcible Entry. Oregon defines Forcible Entry as the court action to remove a tenant from a rental unit.
- Both parties will then be summoned to court for what is called the first appearance. Here the judge can order both parties to attend mediation. If you cannot come to an agreement during mediation or the tenant refuses, the case is moved to trial.
- If mediation does not solve the case, the court will notify the tenant of the filed complaint and give them enough time to fill out an answer and send it back to the court. Sometimes the tenant has a case when the rental unit has not been professionally maintained.
- Once the court receives the answer, both parties will be summoned to court for a trial.
- If the tenant does not show up for the case, the tenant will be evicted from the property.
- If the court finds in favor of the property owner, the tenant will be evicted from the apartment.
- The tenant is evicted through a judgement of restitution. The tenant has four days to vacate the premises. You must arrange the eviction with either the Sheriff or a private process server.
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in Oregon, please consult a lawyer.
- Oregon State Bar: Residential Eviction Notices
- Washington County Circuit Court: Forcible Entry
- NOLO: Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Oregon
- Statesmen Journal’s article on Reptile Rescuer Facing Eviction/li>
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