Oregon lawyers are inundated with calls from renters and landlords trying to navigate a web of state rules put in place during the coronavirus pandemic to try to keep renters inside their homes.
Oregon State Bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh said the agency typically has a list of 57 lawyers across the state to refer callers to for legal help with a landlord or tenant. However, Walsh said that only two of those attorneys – one in Springfield and one in Bend – are currently accepting new clients.
With Oregon’s moratorium on evictions expiring in late June, she said the agency is concerned there will be an influx of Oregonians who may need legal advice but do not have the financial resources to hire a lawyer or are unable to obtain legal assistance to take.
“Even before the pandemic, nearly 90% of landlord / tenant cases tried to go through the law on their own,” Walsh said in a statement. “Add in the moratoria and other ever-changing rules and that’s a recipe for trouble.”
The Bar Association seeks to provide tenants and landlords with the legal resources they need to understand their rights.
The agency will partner with Oregon’s legal aid providers to host a live webinar on Thursday, June 24th at 12 noon to provide updates on government regulations and attempt to answer questions that owners and renters may have. Tenants and landlords can watch the webinar on osbar.org. A video of the webinar will remain on the agency’s website upon completion.
The Landlord-Tenant Law Agency’s website also has resources, videos, and updated legal information in five languages ââfor both tenants and landlords. Links to other statewide legal assistance and rental advice resources are also available on the website.
Under the moratorium that banned landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent, Oregon lawmakers gave Oregon tenants until February 28, 2022 to repay the overdue rent accumulated between April 2020 and this month in order to meet massive bills for Avoid overdue rents on July 1st.
However, there is currently no protection for renters who cannot pay their rent in July and beyond. Tenant advocates and community agencies that offer rental subsidies fear there could be a rush of evictions in July.
The state has $ 204 million in federal rental subsidies for troubled tenants, but local authorities tasked with distributing the money won’t be able to get much into the hands of landlords on behalf of renters before July 1.
Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, chair of the Oregon House of Representatives Housing Committee, introduced a law this week protecting renters from eviction for 60 days after applying for rent allowance and notifying their landlords. With less than two weeks left in the legislature, however, it is unclear whether the legislation will receive enough support to move forward.
Renters can apply for rental assistance through the Oregon Emergency Rent Assistance Program at oerap.oregon.gov.
Landlords can apply for an allowance through the Landlord Compensation Fund at lcf.oregon.gov to cover 80% of their tenants’ overdue rent. Applications for the landlord compensation fund will be closed on Friday. Landlords who accept support from the fund must waive the other 20% of their tenants’ unpaid rent.