Oregon lawmakers extend commercial, residential eviction moratorium through September

Oregon lawmakers voted Friday to extend the state’s eviction moratorium until the end of September.

The vote came four days before Gov. Kate Brown’s eviction moratorium, originally issued April 1, was set to expire.

Both chambers of the Legislature voted Friday during a special session to pass House Bill 4213, which cleared the House on a 43-14 vote and the Senate on a 19-8 vote. The vote fell mostly on party lines, with only one Democrat voting against the bill.

The bill extends the state’s ban on evictions for both residential and commercial properties until Sept. 30 and gives renters until March 31, 2021 to pay back their outstanding nonpayment balances. Brown’s original order did not include a grace period to pay back-rent.

Landlords will not be allowed to charge late fees or report nonpayment balances as delinquent to consumer credit reporting agencies during the moratorium, but renters will still be obligated to eventually pay back any missed rental payments.

Legislators also passed House Bill 4204 Friday, which prohibits lenders from initiating foreclosures against homeowners and other borrowers through Sept. 30. The House voted 39-18 and the Senate voted 19-8 to pass the bill.

“We heard the calls from Oregonians who are struggling to afford rent, afraid of losing their home, or about to lose the small business they spent their life building,” said Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, the chief sponsor of the two bills. “Today we passed bills that will extend Oregon’s eviction moratorium, enact a repayment period for renters, and provide some basic protections against foreclosure.”

Brown hasn’t signed the bills yet but expressed support for them Friday.

“The moratoriums on evictions and foreclosure will go a long way to ensuring working families can stay in their homes and small businesses can continue operating amidst the pandemic,” Brown said in a statement.

On Monday, Oregon’s U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley also joined 15 other Democrats in the Senate in sponsoring legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium to March 27, 2021 and expand it to cover nearly all renters.

Oregonians are continuing to struggle amid the coronavirus crisis. More than 600,000 Oregonians have filed for jobless claims since the start of the crisis and the unemployment rate has ballooned from a historically low 3.5% to over 14%. The state regained 22,500 jobs last month as the unemployment rate fell from a record 14.9% in April to 14.2% in May.

Still, the vast majority of Oregon renters have continued to meet their rent obligations during the crisis.

According to data compiled by RealPage, a company that provides property management software, 95.3% renters in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area and 95.9% of Oregon renters paid their full or partial June rent by June 20. Those numbers were down 2.5 percentage points and 2 percentage points from the same time last year, respectively.

RealPage does not keep data on the percentage of renters who only paid a portion of their rent.

Some Oregonians have still struggled to meet their rent obligations amid the coronavirus crisis, and tens of thousands of people haven’t received their jobless benefits because the Oregon Employment Department has stumbled repeatedly to process the onslaught of new claims.

The department currently has a backlog of 70,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, which has left thousands of self-employed and contract workers without any financial relief during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Jamie Goldberg | jgoldberg@oregonian.com | @jamiebgoldberg

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