2015 Legislative Update for Property Managers and Investors

 


          This year there are a number of bills being proposed within the Oregon House and Senate that will affect you or your clients if you are a Property Manager, Landlord, or Real Estate Investor. I have had the privilege of being the Legislative Director for both NWREIA and the SRHA as well as being president of the PAROA and IRC Real Estate here in Oregon and because of these positions I have to keep an eye on what legislation might affect our industry every year. In this article I will go over the ones that affect our industry and my take on whether we should support or be against each bill.

 

            First is Senate Bill 390; this is the Landlord / Tenant coalition bill that I actually helped to negotiate. This bill will change a few items affecting landlord tenant law (ORS Ch. 90) in Oregon, but nothing too bad as far as Landlords are concerned. Personally I feel that we should always support this bill as landlords. The reason is that having the coalition in Oregon is quite unique and makes it so that landlords have a voice in all of these issues. Without the coalition the bills introduced by the tenant advocates would be worded heavily in their favor and we wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the laws introduced. As with most years this bill shouldn’t have any trouble getting passed as most legislators see the value in a bill already being negotiating by both sides of the table and ultimately doing a lot of the hard work for them in advance. A brief overview of the items that will be changed if this goes through are:

 

  • Municipal fees and Utilities will be able to be passed through to tenants at their actual cost

  • The allocation of payments will be specifically described in the law so that there is no longer any confusion of what tenant payments are supposed to be applied to

  • Landlords who knowingly rent unsafe or illegal dwelling units will now be assessed a fine

  • It will be ok to name landlords as “interested parties” on renter’s insurance policies. This will make it so that you don’t have to check up on your tenants to make sure they are making their renters insurance payments. The insurance companies will automatically notify you of any changes.

  • If there is any damage caused to a unit due to domestic violence then the victim cannot be held accountable for this damage.

  • HOA & COA move in fees can now be passed through to tenants

  • Unauthorized pet fees are being increased to $250 per occurrence after an initial warning.

 

            Keep in mind that these are a brief overview of the changes so I encourage you to research on your own or get in touch with an association like the Portland Area Rental Owners Association or the ORHA for a more detailed explanation of these changes along with how they affect the way you do business as a landlord.

 

            House Bill 2573 authorizes residential tenants to install electric vehicle charging stations on the premises. The stations would be the personal property of the tenant and can be removed when they move out. Personally I think that allowing tenants to do things like this is a good business practice of landlords, but I don’t think that we should be required to allow for it. This should be left up to the landlord and should ultimately be something that the landlord can approve or deny as installing these stations involves a lot more than just putting a post in the ground. Typically this will involve digging a trench from the tenant’s breaker box to the area that the charging station is located in order to run the electrical wiring. This would include tearing up a driveway or parking lot and then patching the area when it is complete which leaves a bit of an eye sore that most landlords would not want. I would suggest that we come out against this law and that we leave this up to the landlords. The landlords that would allow such a thing like myself would happily rent to tenants with electric vehicles and quite honestly would even build apartment units with charging stations already installed on the property; and those that don’t want to deal with it can simply avoid doing so.

 

            House Bill 2689 clarifies that carpet cleaning may be deducted from tenants’ security deposit, but is not considered default or damage caused by the tenant. Really this bill is just redundant as we already have this legislation written into ORS Ch. 90. I think that given it is redundant and that it is circumventing the landlord / tenant coalition we should be opposed to this bill.

 

            House Bill 3305 prohibits utility or service providers from billing a landlord / owner for an unpaid balance on an amount owed by a tenant. Currently there are utility providers that will pass the buck to the owner if they can’t collect from the tenants. This obviously is not a fair practice given the owner is not the one that used the utility and is not the one that opened up the account in the first place. We should adamantly support this bill to stop this very unfair practice.

 

            House Bill 3494 / 2824 prohibits landlords from requiring tenants to have their pets declawed or devocalized. This really should be up to landlords to determine and should not be something they are forced into. Really this shouldn’t be a landlord issue, if the powers that be want to stop this practice because they feel it is cruel then they shouldn’t single out landlords. They need to be pushing for an outright ban on these practices to make it so that veterinarians aren’t allowed to do them. Within my company we either accept pets or we don’t accept them and we wouldn’t ever put these requirements