Governor Brown has signed HB 4213 into law, just in time to replace her earlier Executive Order 20-13, which expired July 1. The bill prohibits residential and commercial evictions until September 30, 2020.
EO 20-13 suspended certain lease terminations and evictions due to COVID-19. HB 4213 extends that eviction moratorium through September 30 and extends the deadline to repay past-due rent until March 31, 2021. The bill also expands the payment items that may be postponed, creates complex notice requirements for both landlords and tenants, and provides damages for non-compliance.
Unlike EO 20-13, which required commercial tenants to provide “documentation or other evidence that nonpayment is caused by * * * the COVID-19 pandemic[,]” HB 4213 excuses “nonpayment” during the “emergency period,” regardless of cause. Also unlike the executive order, HB 4213 does not require tenants to continue to make partial rent payments to the extent they are financially able to do so.
HB 4213 prohibits all commercial eviction activity for nonpayment from April 1 through September 30 (the emergency period). “Nonpayment” excuses late payment of “rent, late charges, utility charges, or any other service charge or fee” that becomes due during the emergency period.
The bill prohibits the delivery of a termination notice or any other action that would interfere with a tenant’s possession or use of a leased premises due to nonpayment during the emergency period. Additionally, a landlord may not initiate or continue eviction proceedings based on a previously delivered termination notice, if the notice was delivered after April 1. Late charges and other penalties for nonpayment during the emergency period are also prohibited.
After the end of the emergency period, tenants will have six months (until March 31, 2021) to repay all unpaid rent, utilities and other charges incurred during the emergency period. Tenants must pay ongoing rent during this repayment period, but they may not be evicted for failure to repay back rent (and other charges) until the end of the repayment period.
Beginning October 1, a landlord may provide written notice with specified information, including the following: the nonpayment balance, the six-month repayment period option, and a reminder that the landlord may terminate the tenancy if rents and other payments that become due after the emergency period are not timely paid. A tenant must respond within 14 days of delivery of such notice, and either repay the outstanding balance or give notice that it intends to take advantage of the six-month repayment period.
HB 4213 imposes penalties on both landlords and tenants. If a landlord violates the requirements of the bill, a tenant may obtain injunctive relief to recover possession or address any other violation and may recover up to three months’ periodic rent plus actual damages. If a tenant fails to respond to the landlord’s repayment notice outlined above, the landlord may recover damages equal to 50 percent of one month’s rent.
HB 4213 contains additional provisions that apply only to residential evictions, including prohibitions on certain “no cause” evictions otherwise permitted by the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
HB 4213 may be subject to constitutional challenge as a law impairing contractual obligations. Until such issues are settled by the courts, however, both landlords and tenants should plan to act in accordance with the provisions of HB 4213.
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