When a tenant signs a new lease, they rarely think they will have to leave their rental earlier than the lease stipulates. However, circumstances change in peoples’ lives, and situations arise in which a relocation needs to happen before a lease is up. Often job transfers are the reason for an early move. Perhaps you’re simply unhappy with where you chose to live and want a change, or you and your partner want to take the next step in your relationship and move in together. Whatever the case, terminating a lease in Oregon before it’s up can come with a high price tag. But there are things you can do to try to avoid paying out the rest of your lease. Our guide has everything you need to know about breaking a lease in Oregon, and advice on how to do so without draining your bank account.
Oregon Lease Laws – Tenant Rights and Responsibilities When Signing a Lease in Oregon
So what is a lease? Residential leases are binding contracts between landlords and tenants that include an agreed upon time period for the rental agreement according to Oregon law Volume III, chapter 90, statute 220. There are several types of leases. The most common lease is a “fixed-term” lease. Fixed-term leases in Oregon include a defined period of occupancy. Fixed-term leases can be any length of time, from short term to several years. The most common lease is a year. There are also “periodic tenancy” leases that do not specify dates, but only periods of time, such as month-to-month. Whether your lease is fixed-term or periodic, your responsibilities and your landlord’s rights are defined within your Oregon lease agreement. Landlords are not permitted to increase the amount of your rent, evict you for no reason, or otherwise change the terms of your lease.
Residents aren’t fully protected when they sign a lease. You can be evicted for many reasons. If you do not pay rent, do not adhere to the terms of your lease, or take part in illegal acts in your rental, you may be evicted. Even in those circumstances, there are procedures landlords need to follow to evict you. In Oregon, if your rent is 8 days late, your landlord can issue you a written “pay or quit” notice that gives you 3 days to pay your rent or the landlord can evict you. You may even receive the pay or quit notice if your rent is 5 days late, in which you have 6 days to rectify the situation before the landlord can initiate an eviction.
What Happens If You Break A Lease In Oregon?
When you terminate your lease early, you won’t get your security deposit back. If you don’t have a legal reason to break your lease in Oregon, there are a few things you can do. You can either pay all the rent that you owe, or you refuse to pay. However, if you don’t pay the rent that you owe, some pretty serious consequences can occur. Whether you’re breaking an apartment lease in Oregon or a regular home, the rules are the same. If you’re trying to terminate your lease in Oregon, here’s what will happen if you don’t pay up:
Damaged Credit Score
When you don’t pay, the landlords have the right to report this to the credit bureau. And while many private landlords may not go through the hassle, this is definitely something that occurs amongst rental companies and landlords who own a few different properties. When the unpaid debt is reported to the credit bureau, this can prevent you from being able to rent in the future.
You Can Get Sued
Rental companies and landlords are in the business of making money. If you don’t pay the rent that you owe, chances are, you’re going to get sued. Unless you have a valid reason to break your lease and not pay your rent, you’ll be responsible for the unpaid rent as well as the court and lawyers fees.
Tarnish Your Rental Record
If you’re getting out of a lease in Oregon, you’ll have to find someplace new. Unless you’re buying, you’ll need another rental. Most rentals ask for references, and this will be on your record. It could prevent you from getting into a new place, which can have a big lasting effect.
How To Get Out Of A Lease In Oregon
Legally, a tenant is required to pay their rent for the entirety of the terms of their lease. That means that if your landlord doesn’t let you break your lease, you’re on the hook whether you live there or not. So, how do you break a lease in Oregon without penalty? Good news is there are some exceptions to this rule thanks to Oregon lease laws! Let’s look at justifiable reasons that allow you to terminate your rental lease in Oregon.
Active Military Duty
Federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, states that you may break a lease without penalty if you enter active military duty after signing a lease in Oregon. The following “uniformed services” fall under this protection:
- Active National Guard
- Members of the armed forces
- Commissioned corps of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service
You are required to give your landlord written notice that you plan to end your lease for military reasons. Once your notice is delivered, your lease will expire 30 days after your rent is next due, no matter how much time remains on your lease.
Domestic Violence, Stalking, or Sexual Assault
In Oregon, if you or your child is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you are eligible for early termination of your Oregon lease Oregon statute 90.453. You must give your landlord 14 days’ notice, and provide specific verification including police reports, a personal statement, copies of restraining orders, and/or copies of convictions.
Health and Safety Violations
If your Oregon landlord does not provide a habitable living environment, you are eligible to end your lease early thanks to Oregon laws under the statute 90.320. Oregon lease laws state a landlord must provide:
- Effective weather protection and waterproofing
- Plumbing and sewage facilities in good working order
- Hot and cold water supply
- Safe drinking water
- Safe electrical equipment that is up to code
- Safe and sanitary common areas and grounds
- Adequate heating
- Maintenance of supplied appliances and facilities, including elevators
- Working carbon monoxide alarms
- Working smoke alarms or detectors
- Functioning locks on windows and doors
If any of these violations occur in your rental property, you must give your landlord written notice of repairs needed (Oregon statute 90.365) and an opportunity to repair them within a reasonable period of time. If they fail to correct the violations, an Oregon court will likely find you eligible for Oregon’s “constructive eviction.” After that, you are no longer required to keep up your end of the lease.
If your landlord is harassing you according to Oregon statute 90.322, you may be eligible for constructive eviction in Oregon. In Oregon, your landlord is required to give you 24 hours’ notice before entering your rental. However, there are times they are not required to give you notice, such as emergencies or to serve you with legal notices. If your landlord is repeatedly entering your rental without proper notice or legal reason, or if they tamper with your locks, a court will likely grant you a constructive eviction.
Minimize Early Termination Penalty in Oregon
If you’re wondering how to get out of a lease in Oregon, unfortunately, life changes like buying a house, finding new roommates, or getting transferred to a new city don’t qualify as legal justification for breaking a lease in Oregon. The good news is that Oregon landlords are required to make an effort to find a new tenant for the unit to help mitigate losses. That’s relieving to hear, but there could still be a long wait. It’s always better to try and break your lease legally in Oregon. Here are some steps you should take to make the process easier for both you and your Oregon landlord.
Check Your Lease
Re-read your Oregon lease agreement for any helpful clauses or language. If there’s an early termination clause, you may only have to pay a few months’ rent if you give proper notice. There might be other loopholes, too – things your landlord may have been required to provide that they did not.
While you’re looking over your lease, see if there is anything in there that prohibits you from subletting your rental. If it’s an option, you may not have to go through the process of cancelling your lease at all!
Have a Conversation with Your Landlord
You never know what he or she may say! They likely won’t just let you off the hook immediately, but if you’re honest about why you’re leaving they could very well be understanding. It might actually be in their best interest, as a new tenant means they can increase rent, which they may have been hoping to do anyway.
Give as Much Notice as Possible
The more notice you give that you plan to terminate your Oregon lease, the less of a blow it will be to your landlord. More time means more opportunities to make plans and find new tenants!
Find a Replacement
Even though Oregon landlords have to take reasonably quick action to find a new tenant, there’s no guarantee that they will be successful. If you can line up a responsible candidate, it will make the process much easier on everyone. Even just offering to help find a replacement may help the conversation with your landlord go smoothly.
Speak to a HUD-Approved Counselor
If you’re nervous about the process of ending your lease in Oregon, there are plenty of people out there who can help you! There are many tenants’ rights organizations who can assist you with any questions or concerns you may have regarding Oregon renters rights and breaking a lease. Click here to view all the housing agencies in Oregon that are approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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