At the end of May 2013, the Oregon Supreme Court handed all Oregon tenants a major victory when their ruling in a case made it clear that tenants in Oregon have the ability to win retaliation cases against their landlords. In its opinion, the court ruled that for a tenant to win a retaliation claim (or defense), the tenant must prove “that the tenant’s protected activity was a factor that made a difference in the landlord’s decision [to retaliate].”
Remember, not just anything counts as landlord retaliation. Only the following categories of conduct can be landlord retaliation:
- Raising your rent
- Giving you a notice that you are being kicked out (a notice of termination)
- Filing, or threatening to file, an eviction case against you
- Intentionally and unreasonably impairing your enjoyment or use of your home (and any common areas)
Before the supreme court’s new decision, tenants had been held to a much-higher, practically impossible standard of proving that the landlord had an evil intent, and was retaliating as a sort of eye-for-an-eye retribution against a tenant who caused them some injury.
Fortunately, the new decision means that tenants have the following rights:
- Tenants can avoid being evicted if they can show the court that the landlord filed the eviction case against them because the tenant engaged in some type of protected activity (like making reasonable complaints to the landlord or to government agencies about problems at the home)
- Tenants can sue their landlord and win money if their landlord retaliates against them. The amount tenants can win is either the cash value of two months of their rent, or twice their actual damages, whichever amount is greater.
Tenants do not need to prove that their protected activity was the only reason, or even the main reason, for the landlord’s retaliation. They only need to show that contributed to the landlord’s decision to take retaliatory action.
And, as always in landlord-tenant cases, the court can order the losing party to pay for the winning party’s lawyer.
Retaliation is no longer something that landlords can get away with in Oregon. If you have been retaliated against, do not wait to contact a landlord-tenant attorney. A good attorney can save your home! Call Portland Defender today for a free consultation, at (503) 592-0606.
Our office handles a lot of assault-related cases, both felony and misdemeanor. Here are a few answers to common assault questions:
What are the differences between the different levels of assault?
Assault crimes in Oregon are broken down into four degrees. Assault in the fourth degree, commonly known as assault 4, is the least-serious. [click to read more]
Landlords sometimes try to kick tenants out of the homes they’re renting. That process is called “eviction.” It’s also known as F.E.D., but it’s easier to just call it eviction.
If you are a tenant (as opposed to, for example, a guest or a squatter) living somewhere with a valid rental agreement (verbal or written), a landlord cannot just break in and kick you out on his own! Doing so would be illegal – your landlord would probably get into criminal trouble, and you would likely be able to sue your landlord for a substantial amount of money. If a landlord wants you out and you won’t leave, a landlord’s only way to get you out is through the eviction process. That process usually has to start with your landlord giving you a “notice of termination.” [click to read more]
When you start a new lease, most landlords will require you to pay a security deposit – make sure you get a receipt! Think of a security deposit like a loan you give to your landlord to ensure that you pay your rent and keep the place in good condition. If you don’t pay your rent or fees, or if you cause damage to your rental beyond normal wear-and-tear, your landlord may be able to keep some or all of your security deposit. Ordinarily, though, your landlord must return your entire security deposit after you move out.
The rules about security deposits are found in ORS 90.300. When your lease ends and you move out, your landlord has 31 days to mail to you (or hand to you) 100% of your security deposit. If your landlord wants to keep any part of your deposit (for the reasons discussed above), your landlord must give you a written accounting within that same 31 day period of time.
Landlords break the rules on security deposits all the time, and when they do, tenants may be able to sue them for twice the amount of money in dispute. For example, landlords often fail to send back deposit money within the 31-day time period. Or, landlords try to bully tenants out of their security deposit money by making up bogus damage claims.
Don’t let your landlord screw you out of your security deposit! Call Portland Defender – we can help you get your security deposit back.
(photo by TaxBrackets.org)