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Don't make me go...Tenant Rights

I began my search for an apartment for myself and Jackson last December. After just a few days on craigslist, I started making appointments to look at some places. The first place I looked at was it...it was perfect. Great location, nice space, hardwood floors, dry basement, yard, clean and bright. I couldn't believe how easy it was to find a great place. And the landlord even seemed like a dream, low key and uninvolved; but, living close enough to be able to deal with any problems in a timely manner.

Last month, we got some new neighbors (it is a duplex). A family from NY (I think I slip back into my Long Island accent when I talk to them) with two boys, 4 1/2 and 2 1/2. Again, I couldn't believe my luck. I've always wanted to have neighborhood kids for Jackson. With Ruby and Sam across the street and the three boys now in the duplex, the play date potential was very exciting.

About 3 weeks ago, I received a call from my landlord. His message said, "Hi Erica, as you probably know, I have sold the building and the sale is contingent on seeing your unit. So, we will be around tomorrow to take a look." What! How could I possibly know that the building had been sold if I had not been aware that it was even on the market. The new owner came through and a few days later a contractor went through the duplex, as well. Last Friday, I received another call saying that the sale fell through and some new potential buyers would like to check it out with their inspectors. We were home yesterday recovering from a stomach virus. The potential buyers were two young women. I asked them what they were planning for the building and, as expected, they would be purchasing the building together and would each live in one of the two units. My heart sank.

Now that you have the rather long-winded background, here's my question. What are my rights as a tenant? I looked online and it seems as though the new owners will not be able to change my existing year lease. However, it also seems as though I can be given a 30-day notice without any real reason. Does anyone have any experience with tenant rights, either as a tenant or a landlord?

Oh, and if anyone is looking for a great piece of property as an investment, I've got one for you to look at. And, it comes with some great tenants, too.

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Without knowing exactly what your lease says, I would think any new owner would be taking over as your landlord and would be beholden to the terms of the lease. (I'm licensed to practice law in Washington, and that's the law in our neighbor to the north. Just got licensed in OR so not as sure about this state)

You might want to see if you can get a free consult to be sure of this - I think the Oregon State Bar has some sort of referral service that would set you up for a free 30 minutes w/ an attorney. You definitely need to have a lawyer who knows landlord/tenant work look at your lease.

Ok, actually it's for a 35$ fee. Here's the link. http://www.osbar.org/public/ris/lrsform.html

check out the Community Alliance of Tenants. They should be able to help you.

http://www.oregoncat.org/

You may have already found this : the OR state bar Landlord and Tenant Law Resource Page http://www.osbar.org/public/legalinfo/tenant.html
If you do need/want to move to North Portland Arbor Lodge, I may know of a place!

Erica,

Lewis and Clark also has a free clinic that does tons of landlord/tenant work. Though the timing may be off - it might be worth looking at. I'll see if I can find the ... ok, just found it:
http://www.lclark.edu/dept/lclinic/client_info.html
Probably won't work out b/c they don't start seeing clients until the end of August. Maybe it will come in handy - what a pain in the neck! So sorry. - Anne

The new owners have to honor your lease. They also need to give you 24 hour notice before coming inside. Also, it is very common not to tell the tenants the property is for sale.

Yeah, this stuff sucks. My mom has been kicked to the curb TWICE IN A ROW because her building was sold. WIth 30 days notice! (Her leases were month to month, so they were totally within their rights - but in one case, the new owner - a big company - bought from a family who had built the building 50 years ago - some of the tenants had literally lived there their whole lives, were elderly, and had nowhere to go. Very sad!) The Portland market is really changing .... rents are going up, criminal and credit checks and open houses that result loooong waiting lists are becoming very coming. You almost have to go with your application filled out and letters of reference in hand. It kind of sucks, if you ask me.

I was scouring the Landlord Tenant Law and I Found what everyone else which is that they are supposed to honor your lease.

That said they'll probably wait out your lease and give you a 30-day. They may start doing renovations, etc. to make it uncomfortable enough for you to leave. So I would totally start looking now.

I would say going forward folks probably will need to have a credit report in hand, references and a deposit cashier's check ready. That's how it was in the Bay Area. Portland is still a family friendly town where individual LLs will still rent to families. Yes, familial discrimination is illegal and some LLs still do it, though covertly.

Rental housing is trending towards being more transitory in Portland. To secure long-term affordable housing, you might want to contact some of the housing non-profits in town. The single family homes and plex sometimes have waiting lists, but you may have little time right now. I would suggest contacting REACH at http://www.reachcdc.org or Rose Community Development http://www.rosecdc.org. There's also PCRI at 503-288-2823. They can be more sticklers around credit, criminal amd landlord references, but there's less chance than your rental home will be sold out from under you.

Protest Mama's post reminds me to add that there are also sometimes affordable homeownership options if you meet a program's requirements... Anyone remember the name of the place on Sandy that has workshops about this? Is it the Housing Advocacy Center? Seems like land trusts can be an affordable home ownership option, too.

Best of luck to you.

The Portland Housing Center. http://www.portlandhousingcenter.org/

LeeAnn mentioned affordable homeownership options, and here in Portland that would be Portland Community Land Trust: http://www.pclt.org

The organization has affordable homes for sale for those earning 80% of median area income or less: http://www.pclt.org/qualify

Reach CDC has affordable rentals in buildings, and I think the income requirement is less than PCLT's.

I'm sad by your situation because we were JUST talking about how your current rental could be great for the long-term for you and Jackson. I suppose many good things come to an end.

I did some work in familial discrimination by landlords, and the discrimination is real. Landlords use tactics to weed out potential tenants with children, though I would love to believe that this is less of the case in family-friendly Portland.

At least I am glad your lease isn't up until January, and it gives you some time to prepare for another transition and find another great affordable long-term option.

With REACH some of their buildings have very strict incomes requirements., The Scattered Site housing which would be plexes and house are a bit looser.

Most non-profit rental housing providers majority of housing stock is for the 30-50% Median Family Income, usually apartment based.

The Scattered Site housing through the agencies I mentioned and places like PCLT, Portland Housing Center top off at about 80% MFI.

housingconnections.org lists a lot of affordable housing as well. You can also find out what the MFI guidelines are at that site. Eighty percent is around $43K.

I was on fair housing board in Oakland. The Familial discrimination becomes insane the more competitive a housing market gets.

that's for a family size of two. Sorry.

Thanks so much for all of the information. I'm sharing it with the neighbors, too. I moved to the Bay Area in the 90's and remember the lines to get to view an apt. I also remember people coming with ONE YEAR's worth of rent in cash in hand!!!

I might look into purchasing something as soon as I have a job. With some luck, that will be as early as Feb. 1. This is all making me a stronger person, right?! Again, thanks for all of the urls and research. I'm sure there are other people out there that will also benefit from it.

Hmmm, I asked my husband (an attorney, although not in landlord/tenant law) said that they have to honor the lease but you can be evicted for basically no reason with 30 days notice. If they evict you, they have to pay damages (if you get a lawyer and pursue it) which usually would include a deposit on a new place and any discrepancy in the rent for a similar location plus legal fees. I would seriously look into it.

I wouldn't be surprised if you landlord attempted to buy you out. It may be hard for him to sell your place with a lease that expires in January. Not too many people are going to pay big bucks for a duplex where the rent doesn't cover the mortgage (I'm just guessing this would be the case considering how lopsided house prices are in relation to rents.)

Another helpful website with lots of tenant rights info is www.OregonLawHelp.org, a joint project of Oregon's legal aid programs. Among other things, it includes a link to a fairly comprehensive pamphlet on "Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon." (Unfortunately, the direct link is way too long to copy here.)

I have zero advice but looks like you got it above. Just wanted to offer my sympathies. We lost a rental we LOVED because we had a dog, and are now looking at buying instead. Good luck to you!

I'm Erica's neighbor in the duplex. I really don't have anything new to add, but would like to thank everyone for the helpful advice. Today is my older son's 5th b-day. I was going to enroll him in kindergarten next week, which I guess I still have to do, but geez. What if our new place isn't nearby? I'm faced with trekking him across town to get to school, or pulling him out of school a few weeks into September. Either way, it stinks.

Matt, Eli, Gideon and I just moved here 1 month ago from NY. I know I'm kvetching now, but I just finished unpacking. The boys were just getting settled. One of the big enticements we used when we were moving here was the fact that there was a boy next door around their ages. I was so psyched when Erica and Jackson showed up at our front door and Jackson had his Superman shirt on. My boys were so psyched, and they all have been getting along great. I don't have the heart to tell them the whole situation yet. Our first move was hard enough, but to do it all over again, and so soon...what a disaster.

Thanks for letting me blow off some steam!

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