Oregon tenants have until Monday to catch up on owed rent

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 7:56 PM PST
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BEAVERTON, Ore. (KPTV) - Monday is the deadline for Oregon tenants to pay back any rent they owe due to hardship during the pandemic.

After Feb. 28, landlords will be able to demand rent payments from April of 2020 to June of 2021.

Oregonians will remember that an eviction moratorium expired over the summer, but tenants were given until the end of February to pay the rent back.

It was a grace period to give the state more time to dole out rental assistance payments to struggling tenants who lost work due to the pandemic.

The state is tasked with dispatching some $250 million of rental aid.

But now that the deadline is nearly here, some tenants are scrambling.

“People are extremely worried, tenants all over the state are in stress over this,” said Kim McCarty, the executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants.

“We are really concerned about growing homelessness in Oregon and it can only get worse if the needs of tenants aren’t met,” McCarty added.

McCarty told FOX 12 on Tuesday that some renters are still waiting to find out if they’ve been approved for rental assistance and others haven’t yet received their payments.

“We tell everybody, be persistent, keeping making those calls, get on the chat, follow up with your application and make sure you are responsive so that resource is coming to you,” McCarty said.

On the flip side, landlords are eager to collect rents that may have been delayed by more than a year, in some cases.

“There are a lot of landlords who are still out some money,” said Ron Garcia, the executive director of the Rental Housing Alliance of Oregon.

“In truth, there are some tenants that are financially stable now, that did owe that money and they have to now pay the piper; it’s time to pay,” Garcia added.

Garcia said the real problem isn’t between tenants and landlords but lies with the state.

“It’s really about a failure of the state of Oregon to have gotten all of that $250 million out in a timely and efficient manner,” Garcia said.

Garcia said landlords have the option of suing tenants in small claims court if tenants don’t pay their owed rent by Monday.

Some landlords may also start the eviction process.

“What we’re recommending is for owners to look at some of that past (due) rent, balance that with if they are current now or if they’ve applied (for rental assistance funding) now and decide whether or not they want to do a collection action,” Garcia said.

There’s also the possibility of starting an eviction process, but landlords and tenants should be advised that if tenants are still waiting for rental assistance applications to be processed or their payments to go through, they can’t be evicted, under Oregon ‘Safe Harbor’ rule that was passed late last year.

Tenants already in the process have until the end of June before they can be evicted, and renters also have until the end of June to start new applications for rental assistance.

The Safe Harbor program ends at the end of September.

McCarty said she advises tenants to apply for rental assistance if they need help.

Struggling renters can also reach out to their local action agency, said McCarty.

For example, in Multnomah County, that program is Home Forward.

Not giving up is key, McCarty said.

“We tell everybody, be persistent, keeping making those calls, get on the chat, follow up with your application and make sure you are responsive so that resource is coming to you,” McCarty said.