Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures set forth by Oregon law when terminating a tenancy and evicting a tenant in Oregon. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Oregon. Landlords and tenants in Portland should also check Portland-specific landlord-tenant laws. Note that Oregon has a statewide rent control and tenant protection law. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 90.323, 90.427, 90.600 (2019).)
If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant before the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has expired, the landlord must have legal cause. Legal cause is defined by Oregon law. The most common legal cause for eviction is the tenant's failure to pay rent. However, under Oregon law, the landlord can also evict the tenant for violating the lease or rental agreement or committing an illegal act on the premises of the rental unit (among other things). The first step in evicting the tenant for one of these reasons is to terminate the tenancy. This is done by giving the tenant notice. The type of notice will depend on the reason for the eviction.
For all tenancies other than week-to-week:
Oregon law allows landlords to terminate tenancies without cause under only limited circumstances.
Landlords may terminate a month-to-month tenancy without cause only during the first year of occupancy. During the first year, the landlord can give the tenant a 30-day notice to terminate. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.427(3)(b).)
After the first year, landlords must have cause as described by Oregon law (such as the tenant’s violation of a lease term or the landlord’s desire to demolish the building). (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.427(3)(c).)
A landlord may terminate the tenancy during a fixed term (such as when the tenant has a lease or other written rental agreement for one year) only with cause and proper notice. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.427(4)(a).) If the tenancy expires within the first year of occupancy, the landlord may terminate without cause by giving 30 days’ written notice. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.427(4)(b).) If the tenancy terminates on a date after the first year of occupancy, the fixed-term tenancy becomes a month-to-month tenancy upon the expiration of the fixed term, unless the landlord and tenant agree to a new fixed-term tenancy, the tenant gives 30 days’ notice, or the landlord has cause to terminate and gives proper notice. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.427(4)(c).)
Even when a landlord has a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant might decide to challenge the eviction in court. The tenant could also have a valid legal defense, such as the landlord retaliating against the tenant or failing to maintain the premises of the rental unit. The tenant’s decision to fight the eviction could lead to increased costs of the lawsuit for both the landlord and the tenant and allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit. If a court finds that a landlord unlawfully removes or excludes a tenant from a rental, the tenant might be able to recover possession or recover the greater of up to two month’s rent or twice the tenant’s actual damages. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.375.)
Even after a landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against a tenant, the landlord is not authorized to remove the tenant from the rental unit. Only a law enforcement officer with a court order can do that.
Tenants sometimes leave personal property behind at the rental unit after an eviction has occurred. If this happens, Oregon law requires the landlord to store the property in a safe location and then send a written notice to the tenant. This notice must inform the tenant of the property the tenant left behind and that the tenant has 30 days to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property within 30 days, then the landlord can dispose of it. The landlord can also charge the tenant for the costs of storing the property. (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.425.)
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Oregon law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.