Oregon’s New Rental Law Limits Tenant Screening

by Chris on June 10, 2013

Oregon lawmakers have just passed a set of rental regulations that restrict the rights of landlords to screen tenants.

A key provision of the measure prohibits landlords from rejecting tenants for prior evictions. Landlords cannot reject an application who was evicted more than five years prior to the current application, whose eviction was dismissed, or who prevailed in the eviction case. The law does not apply to a pending tenant screeningeviction.

The law also restricts a landlord’s right to reject tenants based on criminal history. Information regarding a previous arrest cannot be considered unless the arrest results in a conviction. However, the law is silent as to whether that would included plea arrangements or deferred prosecutions. As with evictions, the law does not apply to pending criminal charges.

Crimes that warrant rejection of the applicant are limited to:

A drug-related crime;
A person crime;
A sex offense;
A crime involving financial fraud, including identity theft and forgery; or
Any other crime that would adversely affect the property of the landlord or a tenant or the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises of residents, the landlord or the landlord’s agent.

The new regulatory scheme includes a class of guest tenants who are referred to as “temporary occupants”. A landlord is allowed to enter into a “temporary occupancy agreement” with such persons so long as at least one tenant resides in the unit. The temporary occupant has limited rights. While landlords are allowed to screen temporary occupants, they cannot obtain a credit report or verify income.

There are a number of provisions in the new law which regulate application fees. A landlord may charge an applicant for tenant screening costs, but only if the landlord first adopts a written tenant screening criteria, and provides the tenant with:

A receipt;
Notice of the amount;
A copy of the landlord’s screening criteria;
A summary of the process that the landlord typically will follow,including whether the landlord uses a tenant screening company, credit reports or other public records or references;
A list of other available properties and an estimated number of applications pending for those vacancies.
Written notice of the amount of rent and deposits; and
Whether tenant is required to purchase renters insurance.

Any landlord charging an application fee is also required under this state law to abide by the provisions of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application fees are limited to the actual costs to obtain the tenant screening reports. If no tenant screening reports are ordered, the application fee must be refunded within a reasonable period of time.

If a landlord does not comply with these rules, a penalty of $150 plus twice the amount of the application fee collected can be awarded to the tenant.

The new law contains a number of other provisions which affect the amount of notice required for legal action, limitations on withholding of security and rent deposits, and provisions concerning mandatory renters insurance.

The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2014.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy Morris October 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Situation: my sister and her grandson applied for rental space in a mobile home park. On the application she completed it ask how many people would be in the home and she answered two. Herself and her grandson who is over the age of eightteen would live in mobile on the space they want to rent. She was denied based on the fact of her grandson criminal history.

Can they do this? Would she be able to apply on her own spotless history?

marti July 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Ive applied for a rental and they told me tje background check could take up to 10 days since im from out of state. it has now been 6 weeks and the reporting agency says their working on it. how long do they have to get this dine?

david poulin October 5, 2014 at 11:49 am

my daughter is renting a room in her uncles manufactured home.. he pays space rent to the mobile park.. he owns the house completly.. the house has been paid in full… prior to getting in him and my daughter had to do a background check…the park rules state no felonies on the records of anyone living in the house. at the time my daughter had no record… this was about 6 months ago. my daughter just got convicted of a felony. . she is worried that her soon to be ex-husband will contact the landlord to get her kicked out for being a felon… can the land lord ask my daughter to leave now?. my daughter is fighting the conviction with the help of a lawyer , but that will take time…does my daughter have cause to worry that she will soon be homeless?

Cathy October 23, 2014 at 10:54 pm

How long does a company have to process an application? It’s been weeeeeks.

lois foster February 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

My son is getting out of prison in may. We would like too know if he can live with us in the apartment. Beside paying application fee. Can they turn him down because he is felon. Also do you have pay more because he is felon. Only be short time to get on his feet. Thank you for your time. Lois

Joanne Danzer August 31, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Are there any rules regarding how far back criminal records can be considered for rent. My brother is trying to rent an apartment in a place that is mostly but not all section 8. They said there was no point for him to go on the wait list due to his convictions in 1991 for arson and attempted murder (they said the act of arson was attempted murder whether anyone was home or not.) He did his time, is off drugs and alcohol and has turned his life completely around. It has been 25 years since he had a drink or has been in any kind of trouble. They said even 25 or 30 year old convictions were grounds for not renting to him.

Gary Smith October 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I have a bad tenant in Oregon who has decided to move out. What am I required to tell the next prospective landlord when she calls for information about how he was as a tenant. She called me today, but I was busy and could not take her call at that time. She will call back tomorrow.

Kate June 25, 2018 at 9:02 am

I have an eviction that is >5 years old, but the rental applications all have “Have you ever been evicted?” on them. Do I answer Yes? No? Leave it blank and explain?

anne July 30, 2018 at 1:01 pm

If a person lies on their application for a short term rental: they are not who they say thery are, they claim employment they don’t have, they are not here for the reason they say they are, and then they steal, foul and damage my property, do I have any recourse?

jerry reeves October 25, 2018 at 5:35 pm

i have a tenant that has a felony ( drug related ) on his recorded. he did not disclose this information because he was in a relationship with my daughter. they are now breaking up and he will not leave, can i evict him because of failure to disclose?

Bob Goding November 20, 2018 at 2:23 pm

I’ve been waiting more than 2 weeks for approval for tenancy in a mobile home park in Oregon. Is there a leagal time limit for approval or disapproval

Danyelle Knapper August 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

My sister, who is on Social Security and has rental assistance, recently applied for an apartment who denied her based on her credit report (she’s no overdue utility bills) and a past eviction, balance or etc. from a previous landlord. I am her POA and know other than were she’s moving from the are no derogatory balances. She owes for w/s/g currently where the manager agreed to take out of her deposit. Please let me know if her denial is legal.

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