What Can Landlords Charge Tenants in Oregon?
Fees and Deposits
Landlords frequently want to charge tenants “fees” or “deposits” when the tenant moves in. But there are a lot of questions that this subject creates:
What counts as a deposit? What counts as a fee?
What money is a landlord required to return when a tenant moves out?
What is refundable or non-refundable?
The answers to these questions can make a big difference in terms of what money tenants have to pay, and what money tenants get back when they leave.
What is a deposit and can landlords ask for deposits?
A deposit is an amount of money that a tenant gives to a landlord in case the tenant owes the landlord money later on. Landlords are free to require deposits (in any amount) and typically deposits are required. Money a tenant deposits doesn’t become the property of the landlord – the landlord is simply holding onto the money during the tenancy. All deposits are refundable. In Oregon, there is no such thing as a “non-refundable deposit.” If your landlord is trying to charge you a “non-refundable deposit,” then either your landlord is trying to cheat you, or your landlord is simply ignorant of Oregon’s laws. In Oregon, all deposits are refundable. If you don’t owe your landlord any money once you have moved out, your landlord is required to give back your entire deposit.
What is a fee, and what can fees are allowed?
Fees are, by definition, non-refundable payments to your landlord. Once you pay a fee, you will never get it back. Landlords are only allowed to charge a few different types of fees. The most common are:
- Late fees, but only certain amounts, and only if landlords follow very specific rules;
- Bounced check fees, but only up to $35.00;
- Smoke or carbon monixide alarm tampering fees, but only up to $250.00;
- Early termination fees, but only up to 150% of one month’s rent;
- Fees for rule violations, such as failing to pick up dog poop, or parking violations. But, the landlord must first give you a specific warning for your first offense; for your second offense, a landlord may charge a fee of up to $50.00.
Remember – landlords aren’t required to give fees back if the fees were legal to begin with.
What should a tenant do if a landlord is breaking Oregon’s laws about fees and deposits?
Landlords love to take advantage of tenants who don’t understand their rights. If you think your landlord is trying to screw you, call a lawyer at Portland Defender. Every day, we help protect Oregon tenants from bad landlords.