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Oregon’s back-rent grace period ends; Oregon Law Center points to tenant protections

Oregon Law Center

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill designed to give relief to people who fell behind on their rent during the earliest period of the global pandemic. Senate Bill 282 created a special grace period for back rent accrued between April 2020 and June 2021 and gave tenants until Monday, Feb. 28. 

Starting Tuesday, back rent protected by the grace period is now due. But the Oregon Law Center said there are two important protections tenants should be aware of: 

  1. If you have applied for rent assistance at any point since July 1, you have shown your landlord proof of application, and your application is still pending, you are protected from nonpayment eviction under the extended safe harbor protections passed in last December’s special session. 

Note: The safe harbor protection applies to any rent assistance application, whether through the state portal or from a local non-profit or other agency. 

  1. If you have NOT yet applied for rent assistance and owe back rent from the special grace period - or for any time - it is not too late to apply. Proof of a pending rent assistance application prohibits landlords from giving non-payment evictions or taking people to eviction court. Go to www.oregonrentalassistance.org or www.211info.org for information on how to apply for help.

Even if tenants have received a nonpayment eviction notice or court filing, they can still stop the eviction by providing proof of a pending application for rent assistance, if they provide their landlord documentation of the application at or before the first court appearance. 

“We want to make sure tenants know that the safe harbor protections that come with applying for rent assistance will stop all non-payment evictions, even as the back rent grace period has ended.” says Becky Straus, Managing Attorney at the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project. “If you haven’t applied for rent assistance, do so now, and provide your landlord with documentation of your application. These programs are there to help people at risk of eviction.” 

The Oregon Law Center also reminds tenants that if they have been summoned to eviction court for any reason, they should immediately contact the Eviction Defense Project through the website oregonlawcenter.org/eviction-defense-project/ or by calling 888-585-9638. 

Since early 2021, the Eviction Defense Project has assisted hundreds of households to remain in their homes. The Project is operating statewide and also has local attorneys stationed in counties throughout the state. Services are free to qualifying low-income tenants, and are available in English and Spanish. There is access to expert interpreters for other languages, and help is available to people no matter their citizenship status. 

KTVZ News Team

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