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Landlords and Tenants in the Age of Coronavirus- Who Holds the Bag?

March 24, 2020 General

In the wake of a global health crisis, nearly every government entity– from the federal to the state to the local– has taken drastic measures in order to curb the crisis’ negative health and economic effects. Oregon has been on the forefront of this change, enacting “stay at home” orders, closing certain “nonessential” businesses, and even curtailing “nonessential” court hearings.

Like every other brick-and-mortar establishment, courthouses themselves have turned into virtual ghost towns. Some litigants who were in the middle of their cases when the crisis struck are now asking, “What now? Do I still get my day in court?” Others have cases that they need to file, but wonder if there’s any point.

Landlords and tenants are of particular interest in these strange times. Kate Brown, Oregon’s governor, has now officially ordered that Oregon landlords cannot even serve tenants with termination notices for nonpayment of rent (including, it seems, notices for “no cause” terminations as well)– much less attempt to evict a tenant after that notice is served. On the judicial side of the equation, the chief justice of Oregon, Martha Walters, has ordered that all FEDs (eviction proceedings) will be postponed until June 1, 2020 or later.

Keep in mind that landlords can still file eviction proceedings– including serving their tenants with the relevant court papers– after, of course, properly notifying those tenants that their leases have terminated under applicable law. But no one will actually be able to appear at a hearing until June 1 or later. So even if you end up filing your eviction complaint and opening up a court case, you’ll be waiting at least a couple of months before you can even begin the process in court.

No doubt landlords and tenants have several follow up questions regarding this procedure. To get answers to those questions, you’ll have to consult a variety of resources that we can’t even begin to list here. But suffice it to say that Oregon has decided that if landlords and tenants have a dispute… well, then it can wait.