PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Senate has voted in favor of a bill that would give tenants, struggling with financial hardships due to the pandemic, more time to pay past-due rent.
Currently, tenants have until July to pay back rent, but under the new proposed bill, tenants would have until Feb. 28, 2022. The bill passed Wednesday with a vote of 25-5 and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 282 does not extend the current pandemic-related moratorium on evictions past June 30 and does not forgive back rent.
“We have all heard the stories of Oregonians without work, who have lost income or who have lost much of their income through no fault of their own — because of a global health crisis,” said Sen. Jeff Golden, an Ashland Democrat.
The bill also would protect renters from the long-term impacts of not making payments on time by barring reporting to consumer credit agencies and removing back rents from consideration when submitting future rental applications. The bill would also bar potential landlords from screening out applicants based on COVID-era evictions and allow the sealing of evictions during COVID from a tenant’s record.
Additionally, the bill relaxes occupancy limits as lawmakers say some Oregon residents have needed to stay with friends and family due to financial or safety situations during the pandemic.
News release from Oregon Senate Democrats:
Senate Democrats Extend Protections for Renters in Crisis
SALEM – Senate Democrats passed Senate Bill 282 today, a bill to extend renter protections enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health measures that Oregon has implemented to save lives during the ongoing emergency has unfortunately resulted in many Oregonians losing income and having difficulty paying their rent.
“We have all heard the stories of Oregonians without work, who have lost income or who have lost much of their income through no fault of their own – because of a global health crisis,” said Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) who co-carried Senate Bill 282. “We took important steps over the third Special Session to protect renters and assist landlords who want to do right by their tenants and, also, have their own bills to pay. While we are on the road to recovery, many are still in crisis. Extending the grace period for tenants who have been unable to pay their rent acknowledges the inequities of this recovery and it will keep Oregonians housed,” added Senator Golden.
Senate Bill 282 extends the grace period for a tenant’s nonpayment of rent and other charges that they may have accrued during the grace period to February 28, 2022. The current grace period is set to expire on June 30, 2021. The bill also protects tenants from the long-term impacts of nonpayment of rent during the COVID-19 emergency period by barring reporting to consumer credit agencies and removing back rents from consideration when submitting future rental applications.
As some Oregonians have needed to stay with friends and family to avoid debt accrual or establish safe housing, Senate Bill 282 relaxes occupancy limits – allowing landlords to screen additional guests.
“Allowing Oregonians to maintain stability will keep a roof over the head of many individuals and families, Senate Bill 282 will also improve the health, safety, security and future of many by preventing the long-term and generational impacts on renters,” said Senator Kayse Jama (D-East Portland) who co-carried the bill and chairs the Senate Committee on Housing and Development. “We know that BIPOC Oregonians have experienced some of the greatest rates of housing instability and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is falling disproportionately on those very same communities. We cannot allow these inequities to be further solidified and exacerbated,” added Senator Jama.
Both Senators expressed their gratitude for the perseverance of both landlord and tenant representatives who kept working to meet to meet this challenge and resolve differences in the interest of Oregonians.
The bill passed with a vote of 25-5 and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.