My last column on landlord/tenant law covered 24-hour notices, transfer of leases and lease buyouts. As I mentioned then, when purchasing or selling a tenant-occupied property, it's crucial to be aware of state landlord/tenant laws. An incorrect step from a landlord can result in a massive headache and potentially financial loss.
- Courtesy Dan Moyle, Flickr
It's also important to be aware of the new laws and regulations under SB608, the recently passed law concerning rent control, rent increases and ban on no-cause evictions.
Rent Increases: Under the new laws of SB608, a landlord may only increase rental rates once per calendar year. In addition, the rental rate can only increase by 7% plus Consumer Price Index. For 2019, that dollar amount is equal to approximately 10.2% of the current rent rate. This formula and rent stabilization law apply to all landlords statewide. The only exemption to this law is landlords whose dwellings are fewer than 15 years old. Properties that are fewer than 15 years old are not held to the rent stabilization law, and as such, don't have to abide by the 7% plus CPI standard when raising rents. It's important to note that all rent increases must be given in writing with no fewer than 90 days' notice.
Notices of Termination: Of the questions I'm asked by buyers and sellers of tenant-occupied properties, termination of tenancy and notice of termination of tenancy tends to be one of the more confusing areas. This is particularly true under the new laws of SB 608.
When a tenant has occupied the dwelling for fewer than 364 days, a landlord, under the law, can issue a 30-day notice of termination of tenancy without stated cause. This notice can be issued up to the 364th day of tenancy. This applies to both leases and month-to-month agreements. For example: A tenant moves in on Aug. 15, 2018. On Aug. 14, 2019, a landlord may issue a 30-day notice to vacate and will be valid under Oregon law.
What happens when a tenant has occupied a dwelling for 365 days or more? Once a tenant has occupied for more than one year, under the new laws of SB 608, a landlord may not terminate tenancy without cause. There are only four exemptions to this law: 1. The property owner/landlord intends to demolish the unit or convert it to a use other than residential. 2. The property will undergo major repairs or renovations that will make the dwelling unfit/unsafe for occupancy. 3. The landlord or landlord's immediate family intends to occupy the property as a primary residence. 4. The landlord is selling the property, has an accepted offer from a buyer who intends to occupy the property as their primary residence. In all of these cases, a 90-day notice must be served and in the case of exemption 4, the landlord must provide evidence of the offer to purchase within 120 days of acceptance of the offer to purchase.
It's important, when looking to purchase or sell a property that is tenant occupied, to be clear on the laws protecting tenant rights. I highly suggest working with a broker who has significant experience working with tenant occupied properties, as well as one who is well versed in landlord/tenant law. Do the research when choosing a broker; it will save tremendous headaches in the long run.