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SB 891 – Extension of the Oregon Safe Harbor for renters

As the Covid 19 pandemic continues and our local leaders determine their course of action, the subject of renter protection continues as well.  Over the last two year, housing providers have dealt with a complex and ever changing set of rules, while public agencies such as OHCS struggle to issue much needed rent relief to those renters that are impacted financially by the pandemic.  SB 278 and now SB 891 have been passed to provide safe harbor to tenants facing eviction for non payment of rent while they wait to receive rent payment support.

The latest change is described here.

On December 14, 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 891 (SB 891), amending Senate Bill 282 and Senate Bill 278 (see links for prior guidance). SB 891 changes the eviction moratorium and rental assistance for housing providers in Oregon as follows:

Extension of the Safe Harbor Period for Renters

The legislature has pushed forward the sunset of the safe harbor protections for renters as it relates to demands for non-payment from March 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022.

As a reminder, housing providers may not deliver a termination notice for non-payment or initiate or continue an action for possession based on a termination notice for non-payment if a renter provides documentation of application for rental assistance to their housing provider on or before the First Appearance in an eviction action in Circuit Court.

Prior to SB 891, the housing provider was required to wait 60 or 90 days after receiving proof the renter applied for rental assistance before initiating or continuing an action for possession. SB 891 replaces the 60/90 day waiting period with the new framework described below.

If documentation of an application has been provided to the housing provider by a renter, no further action to terminate or evict based on the monies due may be taken until the earliest of:

  • The renter’s application is no longer pending (meaning that Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) has issued payment or has denied the application);
  • The housing provider has received rental assistance or any other payment covering the non-payment amount owed on a notice; or
  • September 30, 2022.

Exemption of Damages to the Premises

Housing providers may now serve notices and/or terminate the tenancy of renters for monies owed due to damages to the premises without being subject to the aforementioned safe harbor restrictions.

New Forms

Non-payment forms and any Summons used in non-payment eviction actions in court must be updated to include the required language based on SB 891 requirements. Notices and eviction summons sent out before SB 891’s passage are not invalidated because they used the prior disclosure mandated by SB 278.

OHCS Priority Mandate

OHCS must prioritize the processing of eligible applications for renters who applied for rental assistance on or before December 1, 2021 before providing assistance to subsequent applicants. OHCS must also close applications, after notice to tenants of potential closure, if it is determined that the renter is no longer participating in the application process.

Notice to Renters and Housing Providers

If applications are denied or otherwise closed without payment, OHCS shall provide a dated notice of denial or closure to the rents and housing provider at any known address or email address.

Home Forward Payments to Housing Providers

Housing providers may continue to apply with Home Forward’s Landlord Guarantee Program for compensation of non-payment that accrued during the safe harbor period. Housing providers may apply for compensation beginning on the date the tenant provided documentation to the landlord of application for rental assistance and ending on the earliest of the following:

  • October 1, 2022;
  • The date the housing provider receives possession of the premises from the renter.
  • The date the court enters a judgment for possession of the premises in favor of the landlord; or
  • The date a rental assistance provider makes a payment on, denies or closes the application without payment to the housing provider. If the application for compensation from Home Forward was on or before the effective date of SB 891, then payment must be 60 days (90 days in Multnomah and Washington Counties) from that effective date.

This article is not intended as legal advice. Please obtain advice of an attorney for any policy changes or decisions regarding residential and commercial Landlord-Tenant matters. The synopsis of SB 891 was created in part by the post provided by Multifamily NW, the Pacific NW’s leading multifamily association.  We are members of Multifamily NW and encourage you to learn more by visiting their website –  https://www.multifamilynw.org/about-us  

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.