Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s April 1 executive order suspending commercial evictions statewide prohibits termination of commercial leases for nonpayment of rent so long as the “tenant provides the landlord, within 30 calendar days of unpaid rent being due, * * * documentation or other evidence that nonpayment is caused by, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, the COVID-19 pandemic[.]” Such documentation or evidence may include “proof of loss of income due to any governmental restrictions imposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” This appears broad enough to include any federal, state and local orders, including Executive Order 20-12, Oregon’s shelter-in-place order, and Executive Order 20-07, prohibiting on-premises consumption of food and drink at restaurants and bars.
The order further prohibits commercial landlords from taking any legal action to evict tenants or otherwise recover possession of the leased property and from collecting late charges or penalties arising from nonpayment of rent.
The order does not relieve commercial tenants of the obligation to pay rent and utility or other service charges to the extent they are financially able to do so. Further, commercial landlords may terminate commercial leases for causes other than non-payment of rent (i.e., violation of noise covenants, illegal activity, etc.). Violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor.
This executive order is in effect until July 1, but may be extended or terminated earlier by the Governor.
The state of Washington has yet to issue a statewide-moratorium on commercial tenant evictions — Washington’s Proclamation 20-05 only applies to residential evictions. However, since March 17, the City of Seattle has imposed a moratorium on small business and nonprofit tenant evictions under a Civil Emergency Order. Unlike the Oregon statewide-moratorium, the Seattle order is limited to tenants who are a small business (defined as having 50 or fewer employees) or a nonprofit, but prohibits eviction for either non-payment of rent or due to the expiration of a current lease term.