'Landlords and property owners are doing well and renters are struggling'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Thursday at midnight, the “safe harbor” protection for Oregon tenants that arose amid the COVID-19 pandemic expires.
The protection allows tenants behind on their rent payments to avoid eviction, as long as they’ve applied for rental assistance.
Becky Straus, the managing attorney for the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project, explained to us Thursday what tenants need to do.
“Meaning that tenants can show their landlord proof of their rent assistance application and get a pause on any eviction while that application is pending,” Straus said.
She said tenants who prove their application is pending, have until Sept. 30 to catch up on payments.
Those who have not submitted proof can be evicted.
”Landlords can evict and can end a tenancy for a range of reasons, including lease violations -- or in some cases no reason at all,” Straus said. “But the bulk of the evictions that come through eviction court or that end in displacement before eviction court are based on non-payment of rent.”
Deschutes County has had 3,940 rent assistance applications submitted.
Nearly half have received funding, more than 1,000 were denied, and more than 400 applications are still under review or require additional information.
More than one-third (36 percent) of the applications, the largest percentage, reported having no income.
Straus said despite the rental assistance program, her office is seeing an increase in evictions.
“We're entering the phase of the pandemic where we have a bit of a two-economies landscape, where landlords and property owners are doing well and renters are struggling and are hardest hit by the pandemic more than they ever have been,” Straus said.
Paul Heatherman, an attorney in Bend, told NewsChannel 21 he’s still seeing a high number of rent and eviction-related clients, but it’s an equal split between landlords and tenants.
However, he said for the first time in his career, he’s seen a handful of tenants agree to an eviction date, but not move out on that date, because they can’t find anywhere else to live.
Straus said while the “safe harbor” period is ending, tenants can still apply for rental assistance if needed, and can call 211 for more services.