Effective as of March 17, 2020, the emergency rule adopted by Multnomah County announced a pause on “all residential evictions in Multnomah County for tenants on the basis of nonpayment of rent due to wage loss resulting from COVID-19.”

SUMMARY: ADVICE FOR TENANTS

If you think will be unable to pay your rent on time because of lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to notify your landlord immediately. Do not wait until the first of the month. Do not wait until your landlord considers your rent “late.” Use email, phone, text, and U.S. mail, if you can. Leave no room for doubt about whether you notified your landlord. And be sure to have documentation of wage loss – such as a letter from your employer about termination, job site closure, etc.

If your landlord files an eviction case against you for non-payment of rent after you have already filed this advice, contact a landlord-tenant lawyer right away.

OVERVIEW OF THE NEW RULE

The rule is not clear about whether this stops landlords from filing non-payment eviction cases in certain circumstances, or whether it simply provides tenants with a defense to certain eviction cases. Portland Defender believes it simply provides tenants with a defense, if they qualify for the defense.

To qualify, the emergency rule makes clear that a tenant must:

  1. Demonstrate substantial loss of income, through documentation or other objectively-verifiable means, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. Notify their landlord on or before the day that rent is due that they are unable to pay rent due to substantial loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This emergency rule says that all rent is STILL OWED, but that tenants will be able to pay their unpaid rent in a six-month window beginning when the emergency has expired. The rule also says that no late fee can be charged or collected for rent that is late for the reasons described above.

The emergency rule mentions an “expectation” that eviction proceedings will be entirely suspended until April 30, 2020 – this would cover ALL eviction cases, not just those for non-payment.