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Utilities and Services
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The landlord has a responsibility to take care of all repairs that are not made necessary by the tenant,
or the tenant’s guests or pets. The landlord must keep the rental habitable at all times. (90.320(1))
Make sure to check for individual cities that have
additional habitability standards.
- a weatherproof and waterproof exterior, roof, walls, doors, and windows;
- approved plumbing facilities in good working order;
- hot and cold running water from an approved water supply connected to an
approved sewage system, and maintained in good working order;
- safe drinking water, if the water is under the landlord’s control;
- adequate and approved heating facilities in good working order;
- electric lighting, wiring, and equipment, approved and in good working order;
- clean and sanitary buildings and grounds, free from accumulation of debris,
filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin, and safe for normal and
reasonable uses (these obligations only apply to common areas after the
tenant moves in);
- adequate garbage receptacles. It may be the tenant’s responsibility to pay for
the garbage collection if specified in the rental agreement;
- floors, walls, ceilings, stairs and railings in good repairs;
- if provided, ventilation or air conditioning, elevators, or other facilities
and appliances (washers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators, etc.) in good
- safety from fire hazards;
- working smoke detectors with working batteries provided only at the beginning of
the tenancy (the tenant is responsible for testing the device inside the
unit and the landlord is responsible for testing in common areas);
- working locks for all outside doors except doors to common areas, and keys to
locks that require keys;
- working latches for all windows that open (except common areas), unless fire or
safety regulations prohibit them.
A landlord may enter the tenant’s dwelling to:
- inspect the premises;
- make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements;
- supply necessary or agreed-upon services’ or
- show the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagors, tenant
workers, or contractors. (90.322)
Notice of Entry
Unless the landlord and the tenant agree otherwise, the landlord must give the tenant at
least 24 hours written or verbal notice of intent to enter the premises.
Notify the Landlord of Needed Repairs
If something needs to be repaired, the tenant should first notify the landlord.
Although not required, it is strongly suggested to call the landlord and follow-up with a
request in writing. In the letter, the tenant should specify what repair(s) needs
to be done and when would be a good time for the landlord to access the premises to
make the repair(s).
When the tenant has requested repairs in writing, the request may specify allowable
times for the landlord to enter the premises. The authorization expires after 7 days
unless repairs are ongoing.
If the tenant requests repairs in writing, the landlord may enter the unit without
further notice. Unless the tenant’s notice specifies times, the landlord may enter
at any reasonable time for up to 7 days after the tenant’s requests to make the
repairs. (90.322(1)(c)) If someone other than the landlord does the repairs, the person
must provide the tenant, upon the tenant’s request, with written authority from
the landlord to make the repairs.
Legal Entry without Consent
The landlord may enter the rental without notice or consent in the following cases:
- an emergency, which includes a repair problem which must be repaired
immediately to avoid serious damage;
- when the tenant has requested repairs in writing;
- when the tenant has been absent for more than 7 days and entry is reasonably
- pursuant to a legal order;
- when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises; or
- to come onto the property in order to serve a notice.
The landlord shall not abuse the right to access or use it to harass the tenant,
nor shall the tenant unreasonably deny access to the landlord. (90.322)
Abuse of Access
If the landlord makes an unlawful entry, a lawful entry in an unreasonable
manner, or an unlawful demand that harasses the tenant, the tenant may obtain
a court order to end the rental agreement. The tenant can recover damages amounting
up to no one month’s rent. (90.322(8))
If the tenant unreasonably withholds access, the landlord may obtain an
injunction or terminate the rental agreement. The landlord may also recover
actual damages. (90.322(7))
A tenant or landlord may sometimes wish to make changes that are not covered by the
contract and/or the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ORLTA.) Changes could
include dropping or adding house rules, allowing or prohibiting pets, doing some painting,
providing a new service such as washing machines.
If there are no problems with essential services or contract compliance, your best
bet is to try friendly negotiation. If tenants have problems with essential services or
contract compliance, they may use those problems as an occasion to organize and exert
pressure for other needed changes. Organizing tenants toward a common purpose is legally
Many landlords will check your credit history to see if you have paid your bills on time. Credit bureaus collect information about you from various sources. Such information may stay on file for up to 10 years and may include:
If you are refused housing because of information on the credit report, you may obtain a free copy of your report within 30 days by requesting it in writing from the credit bureau. You may then submit a personal letter of explanation, or “your story,” to your file. If the landlord charged an initial screening fee, he should have already provided the name and address of the credit bureau under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- your name, current and former addresses, Social Security Number, birth date, current and former employers, type of job, income, spouse information and whether you rent or own your home;
- dates that you opened your credit accounts, or took out a loan, and the terms of the accounts;
- attempts to get credit, car loans, insurance, mortgages, etc;
- account balances, past due amounts, how often you pay late;
- your biggest loan ever received and any limits on your credit card accounts;
- bankruptcies, lawsuits, court judgments, liens, or repossessions.
Tenant Screening Fee
Some landlords use a tenant screening service to help them select tenants. These services not only have access to your credit history, but may also be linked to a database that can access the courts’ records of evictions, divorces and small claims activities. To save money, you should ask the landlord if they have screening criteria for applicants. Be sure that you can pass the criteria before paying an application or screening fee. If you know you won’t meet the criteria, ask if the landlord will consider your explanations. Many landlords will adjust the criteria for an honest explanation. The landlord might charge an additional deposit for the added risk. Tenants should be honest and fill out all applications completely, neatly and accurately. Landlords can reject an application that is incomplete, inaccurate or falsified.
A landlord who charges a screening fee is required to give written notice to the applicant of the amount of the fee and the landlord’s screening criteria. The notice must be given prior to acceptance of the fee, but the notice does not have to include the name and address of the screening service or credit reporting agency until and unless the applicant is denied based on the credit or screening report. The screening fee disclosure must also explain the applicant’s right to dispute the accuracy of the information retained.
A landlord may charge a fee to cover the cost of processing the application, including running background or credit checks on potential tenants. (90.295) The landlord may not charge a screening fee unless he gives a written notice of:
An application fee cannot be charged if there is not a rental unit currently available. A fee or deposit cannot be charged to put you on a waiting list. Application fees should be no more than the average, actual costs for screening. If, for any reason, the landlord does not perform the screening, he/she must refund the fee within a reasonable time.
- what information will be obtained;
- the charge for the process;
- the applicant’s right to dispute the information obtained;
- the name and address of the screening service or credit bureau.
If the landlord approves an application and an agreement to rent is reached, the landlord may require a deposit to ensure that the applicant will sign a rental agreement and move into the unit. (90.297(2)) The landlord must either refund the deposit when the tenant moves in, or apply it to the security deposit or first month’s rent. The landlord must give the applicant a written statement of the terms of the agreement regarding the deposit, as well as how the deposit will be refunded or retained.
Security Deposits, Fees & Advance Rent
Oregon law clearly defines several terms in order to avoid confusion between landlords and tenants.
- A fee is now always nonrefundable.
- A deposit is always refundable.
- Under the Advance Rent section, “last month’s rent payment” is a deposit, not “prepaid rent.” This means that a tenant must pay rent for the last month of occupancy, and then the landlord will reimburse the funds like a deposit.
“Prepaid rent” cannot be used by the landlord for anything but unpaid rent.
- Prepaid rent occurs in two distinct instances.
- When a tenant voluntarily pays rent in advance (e.g. a tenant who has just won a lottery jackpot may want to pay the next three months’ rent in advance, rather than spending the winnings); and
- When a tenant has paid rent for a period extending beyond a termination date (e.g. a tenant who has paid the rent might be evicted in the middle of the month on a 10 day per violation).
All About Rent
The new definition of rent specifies that rent does not include security deposits, fees, or utility service charges. As a result of this change, a landlord could not use a 72-hour termination notice for non-payment of rent for failure of the tenant to pay such deposits, fees or charges. On the other hand, a landlord would not have to give a 30-day rent increase notice if utility or service charges increased. Oregon legislation also clarifies that rent will not be due before the first day of a rental period.
Federal law provides that it is illegal to discriminate in any housing transaction on the basis of race, color, sex, family status, religion, national origin or mental or physical disability. It is also illegal in Oregon to discriminate because of your marital status or your source of income (provided the source is not illegal or criminal). (659A.421(1))
Note: Landlords may, however, reject a couple who are unmarried, unrelated, and of the opposite sex if the rental requires the use of a common bath or bedroom. (659A.421(6))
In Eugene, it is also illegal to discriminate because of your sexual orientation or age.
Tenants with Disabilities
A “disability” is a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person’s functions, such as caring for oneself, doing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and/or working. It is illegal to discriminate based on mental or physical disabilities. It is also illegal to discriminate against disabled people because they have a hearing-ear dog or seeing-eye dog or other assistance animal, or to charge an additional non-refundable fee or excessive deposit for the animal. (346.610-346.660) These protections also make it illegal to discriminate because a person is afflicted with AIDS or the HIV virus.
Note: Landlords may not disclose if an occupant or former occupant is infected with or has died from AIDS or the HIV virus.
Other state and federal laws expand the rights of disabled tenants so that landlords must make “reasonable” accommodations in rules, policies, practices and services as necessary to allow a disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. (Civil Rights of Disabled People, (659A.145) and the Federal Fair Housing Act, (42 U.S.C. 3601 et. Seq.))
Landlords must also permit reasonable modifications to the premises, at the tenant’s expense, to make the dwelling usable for the tenant. The tenant may be required to restore the premises to their original condition at the end of the tenancy only if it is reasonable to do so. For example, a wheelchair ramp may have to be removed, but widened doors would not have to be narrowed.
Although federal regulations forbid requiring a deposit because of these changes, they permit the landlord to require the tenant to open an “escrow” account, with interest going to the tenant, to ensure that there are funds to pay for any modification that the tenant can be required to remove at the end of the tenancy.
Tenants do not have to disclose their type of disability unless they are trying to get into specific housing intended for disabled people. Landlords are not entitled to ask for specific details of the health condition of an applicant or tenant.
The same state and federal laws prohibit discrimination against families with children (i.e., because the tenant has a child, has or is securing legal custody of a child, or is pregnant). A child is a person under 18 years of age.
Most discrimination happens without the victim having the slightest suspicion that discrimination has occurred. Examples of illegal discrimination may include:
- saying that there is no vacancy when there is one;
- requiring a credit check or charging a higher rent or deposit only for members of a protected class (minorities, families, disabled, etc.);
- trying to discourage a member of a protected class in any way (i.e., “There are no other people of color here. You may feel more comfortable somewhere else;” or
- any other distinction in the terms of conditions of the rental.
What to do
If you feel you have been discriminated against, the supposed violation should be reported. Depending on the type of discrimination there are several ways to seek help. You can also seek legal assistance and file complaints in federal or state courts. Even if you don’t have proof, file a complaint especially if you feel you have been discriminated against during the application process. Quick action may result in preventing the landlord from renting the unit to someone else until your case is resolved. Below are resources for claims of discrimination:
- ASUO Legal Services
- Oregon Fair Housing Council
- Fair Housing Enforcement division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (1-800-669-9777)
- Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (503-731-4075)
Rights and Responsibilities
Right to Respect
Tenants have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what their income level. Although the property belongs to the owner, on the day the tenant moves in, the property becomes the landlord’s financial investment and liability, and the tenant’s home. Both the landlord and tenant should treat each other with respect.
Notice of Tenant’s Absence
The rental agreement may require the tenant to give actual notice to the landlord of any expected absence of more than 7 days. Notice should be given no later than the first day of the absence. The purpose of this requirement is to insure the maintenance of any systems that need regular attention (i.e. heat), to protect against theft, and to guarantee that the landlord will not think the unit has been abandoned. (90.340)
Penalty: The landlord may recover actual damages if the tenant deliberately fails to notify the landlord of an extended absence. The landlord can also enter the dwelling after seven days for if “reasonably necessary”. (90.410)
If the original tenant has an unauthorized roommate, the landlord may give a month-to-month renter a 30-day “no cause” eviction notice within 14 days, which states the violations and the opportunity to correct the problem. The landlord may simply demand that the unauthorized roommate go through the normal application process.
Tenant Remedies for Lack of General Repair (90.360)
The statute separates general maintenance into two categories: general services and essential services. If the landlord fails to repair a problem, the tenant may fall back on the general remedies provided by 90.360. There are damages and relief through a legal order (injunction) that can be asserted by suing the landlord or defending against an eviction. The tenant can also end the tenancy under this statute.
Note: The ORLTA’s general provision for habitability remedies applies to all material violations of the rental agreement (90.360(2)) as well as to violations of the landlord’s habitability obligations. However, the tenant must prove that the landlord knew or should have known of the problem(s) in the counterclaim. (90.370)
Tenants can choose to enforce either general remedies or essential remedies, but not both. Choose the one that seems best given the desired outcome, the risks being taken, and the strength of the case. In many cases, reaching an agreement with the landlord will best solve the problem.
The three options available to tenants are:
- “Fix or I Quit”- Tenant Termination for Cause
This remedy is applicable for breaking a long-term rental agreement before the term is up. (90.360) Month-to-month tenants may terminate on 30-days’ notice with or without a reason. If the landlord has failed to live up to his/her part of the rental agreement or has violated the landlord obligations in a way that substantially affects the value of the tenancy, to the tenancy, the tenant may:
- deliver a written notice listing any and all breaches of the rental agreement;
- the notice may state that if the breaches are not cured within 30 days (7 days in the case of essential services), then the rental agreement will terminate at the end of the 30 days. If the breach is fixed (by repair, payment of damages, etc.) before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement is not terminated.
If the same general problem recurs within 6 months, the tenant may terminate the agreement upon 14 days’ written notice. The notice must again specify the problem and the date of termination of the rental agreement.
Return of Deposits after Termination
If the rental agreement is terminated due to the landlord’s breach, the tenant is entitled to the return of all prepaid rent and deposits except for the amount necessary to cover damages caused by the tenant. Additionally, the tenant may sue to recover any damages (i.e., the expense of moving, etc.).
- Suits Against the Landlord
The tenant may recover damages and get a legal order (injunction) to fix the problem(s). Warning: Court costs and attorney fees may be charged to the losing party, which could be the tenant initiating the claim.
This remedy may be the best tactic if the tenant can find a lawyer and if the other remedies don’t fit the case. Often, the landlord will negotiate a settlement rather than face an expensive court battle. Typically, the case would include a detailed statement of everything that is wrong with the rental situation (habitability, poor management, etc.) and would ask for:
- a court order requiring the landlord to make repairs and fix the problems according to a strict schedule;
- damages which could include part or all of the rent which has already been paid, the cost of repairs, any penalty provided by the ORLTA, as well as damages suffered by the tenant(s) for living under such conditions;
- a court order forbidding any evictions for any reason, unless the eviction is approved by the court where the case is pending.
- Defending Against An Eviction Action
The tenant’s right to damages under 90.360 can be used as a defense against an eviction action based upon nonpayment of rent. However, the tenant must prove that the landlord knew of the habitability violations before the eviction (i.e. a copy of a letter listing the violations that is certified by the post office to have been sent). (90.370(1)(a)) The tenant may then counter-claim in an eviction action for damages and injunctive relief repairs. If the tenant counterclaims, the court may require the tenant to pay rent into court. The amount of the counterclaim is limited to the jurisdictional limit of the court (i.e., $10,000 in District Court). Tenants should have access to an attorney before taking steps in this direction.
Tenant Remedies for Lack of Essential Services
The ORLTA has special rules and remedies for getting repairs done for essential services. However, the general remedies above may also be applied to get essential services repaired.
Warning: Use these remedies with extreme caution and preferably with the help of an attorney. Some attorneys say that the general remedies are almost always a better choice because of the complexity and limitations of the essential services remedies. You can’t use both remedies! A tenant who adopts one of these essential service remedies cannot also end the rental agreement for that breach as under the General Remedies (fix or I quit). (90.365(6))
The Essential Services
Essential services are defined in 90.100(9) as:
A tenant may terminate the tenancy with a 48-hour notice if the landlord negligently fails to supply any essential service. The lack of the essential service must pose an imminent and serious health threat. The tenant must give written notice.
- hot and cold running water
- light fixtures
- locks for exterior doors
- latches for windows
- any cooking appliance or refrigerator supplies or required to be supplied by the landlord
- any service or habitability obligation the lack of violation of which creates a serious threat to the tenant’s health, safety or property
Notify the Landlord
Tenants must notify the landlord in writing. Notice can be delivered personally, sent by first class mail, sent by fax, or securely attached to the main entrance of the landlord’s residence. If you send the notice by mail you must add three days to the 48-hour termination period. In an emergency such as no heat in the middle of winter, the statute would be satisfied by an attempted telephone notice followed by written notice as soon as possible. Always write a letter to notify the landlord, even if you have already phoned.
Under the essential services remedies, the tenant must give the landlord “reasonable notice” to enable the landlord to provide the essential service. What qualifies as “reasonable” depends on the circumstances.
For example, in the cause of a faulty cooking appliance or refrigerator supplied by the landlord, “reasonable notice” for one burner not working would be much greater than reasonable notice for the whole appliance not working.
Note: Under the essential services remedies, a tenant’s rights do not take effect until the tenant has notified the landlord, or has made a serious attempt to do so in the case of an emergency.
The tenant loses his/her rights if he/she caused the damages. This could be tricky in a case like frozen pipes. However, it does not relieve the landlord from the responsibility of repairing the problem.
Prepare Some Proof
If you notify the landlord and he/she doesn’t respond, call the housing, fire and/or health inspectors when in doubt: anything they report could be considered essential. However, not all code violations violates the ORLTA.
Write down everything that is wrong as it happens. You will need this information for your letter to the landlord. Get it verified by a friend, or better yet, by a housing or fire inspector. The inspector’s report will be sent to the landlord, but you must ask for a copy for yourself. Other forms of evidence that you might use include photos, repair estimates, receipts and names of any repairperson involved.
If the landlord chooses to contest your claim that it was an essential service or that he/she was negligent, this proof will be important. If your problem is a real disaster and things happen too fast for you to establish proof from the beginning, write down everything that happened as soon as you can.
The remedies vary depending on whether the landlord is negligent, grossly negligent or willingly refusing to provide essential services.
Negligence- Repair and Deduct
Negligence is the easiest to prove because the landlord has a duty to maintain the premises. If the landlord negligently fails to repair any appliances that have been supplied; or fails to supply any other essential service, the tenant may give notice and then may have the necessary repairs made.
With the submission of receipts, the tenant may deduct the actual and reasonable cost of repairs from the rent up to the following maximums: 1) $1,000 if the lack of the essential service poses an imminent and serious threat to the tenant’s health, safety or property AND the work is performed by a licensed or professional; or 2) $5,000 if the lack of essential service is significant or if the work is not performed by a licensed or registered professional.
The landlord may specify the party who is to do the work and the landlord and tenant may agree to a repair more costly than the amount set forth above, but this should be recorded in writing. (90.365(3)(d)(7))
Gross Negligence or Deliberate Refusal
These could be difficult to prove without witnesses or documents showing that the landlord knew of the problem but refused to do anything. If written notice has been given and the landlord has failed to fix the problem, the tenant has the follow options:
- obtain reasonable amounts of temporary alternative forms of heat, water, electricity, or other essential services and deduct the actual and reasonable cost from the rent;
- recover damages based on the reduced value of the rent;
- move into reasonable substitute housing and not pay rent on the original dwelling until the services are restored. A tenant may also sue for the cost of comparable substitute housing; or
- complete the work and submit receipts for the cost as set out in “Negligence-Repair and Deduct.”
Willfully Refusing to Provide Essential Services and Unlawful Ouster
If the landlord unlawfully locks out the tenant or willfully cuts off any essential service, the tenant may recover up to two months’ rent or twice the actual damages, whichever is greater. (90.375)
The tenant may also terminate the rental agreement at which time the landlord must return all deposits and prepaid rent.
Withholding rent- Things to Consider
If you withhold rent, you risk being taken to court and evicted. It is not recommended.
A landlord’s violation of repair obligations may provide a tenant a defense to the payment of rent or to an eviction based on nonpayment of rent. (90.360(2), 90.370, 105.115(3)). This means that a tenant can legally withhold rent as a part of enforcing one of the above remedies (or enforcing a general provision).
Step back from your case for a moment and objectively (from the perspective of a property owner or a judge) decide if you look credible. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you acted in good faith, with honesty in fact in the conduct of the transaction?
- Would it be clear to an outsider that justice is on your side?
- What do you need to do to show that you are not simply trying to cheat the landlord?
Tenants and Leases
Leases are agreements between landlord(s) and tenant(s) to transfer possession of property to the tenant for a certain period of time in exchange for rent payments. Leases may be verbal or written.
Written leases are preferable because they give both tenant and landlord a permanent record of their agreement. Even month-to-month rental agreements can be made in writing. Leases are binding contracts and are difficult to break once signed. You should understand and be comfortable with all provisions of a lease before signing.
A written lease for a term fixes all terms of the agreement so that no changes can be made for a given period of time. All obligations are set out clearly, rent cannot be increased during that period of time and tenants may not be evicted unless they violate a term of the lease.
The disadvantage is that if a tenant has to move before the end of the period, he/she may be liable for the entire period. Be sure to read the lease carefully before you sign. Whether you have an oral or written agreement, when you plan to move out, you must give written notice, usually at least 30 days before the agreement ends.
Before signing your lease
Landlords usually ask for a security deposit at the time the lease is signed. You may be asked to pay the last month’s rent, as well. Regardless of what it is called in the lease or rental agreement, any sum you pay the landlord to hold as security for damages to the premises or unpaid rent is considered “security.”
Make sure the charges you pay at the beginning of your tenancy are clearly explained in your lease or rental agreement.
Before you move in
You may be held legally responsible for any damages you or your roommates and guests do to the premises while living there. However, you are not responsible for normal “wear and tear.” To protect yourself, insist that the landlord inspect the premises before you move in.
Write down any damage or problems on a sheet of paper that both you and the landlord sign, along with an acknowledgement that these damages or problems existed before moving in and you were not responsible for them. If the premises are not clean when first moving in and you have to clean it yourself, ask the landlord to adjust your first month’s rent or change the lease to indicate that you do not have to clean before you move out.
Keep in mind that by not cleaning the premises, the landlord has saved time and/or money.
Some landlords require tenants to have co-signers, a person who does not live in the apartment but who agrees to pay rent if the tenant does not. Parents are usually the co-signers for students but some adults can also be a co-signer. A requirement that parents co-sign a lease may be discriminatory. Before you agree to a co-signed lease, learn why it is required. Landlords must have clear, consistent standards for requiring co-signers. It cannot be required because you are a student or from a foreign country. These standards are discrimination.
Oral agreements have the advantage of being less formal than written agreements. Unless you have otherwise agreed to a specific term (three months, six months, etc.) it is considered a month to-month agreement, and you can move out with proper notice (30 days on or before your periodic rental date if hand delivered, 33 days if notice is mailed registered or certified). The obvious disadvantage is the lack of clarity. If either side ends up in court it is now based on your word against theirs. If you have a month-to-month agreement, the landlord can raise the rent or evict you with proper notice (30 days on or before the periodic rental date).
Leasing sight unseen
Some apartment complexes have model apartments that they show prospective tenants. You should ask to see the actual unit you will be renting. If you are not able to see it for some reason, ask the landlord to add the following addendum to the lease and sign it: “Tenant has not had the opportunity to inspect the unit covered by this lease. Landlord warrants that the unit to be occupied by tenant will be in good, habitable condition and will conform to any model units shown to Tenant in all material respects, except as agreed to by the parties in writing. If the Tenant finds the unit is not in good condition or does not conform to the model unit in some material respect, he/she may give written notice to Landlord that unless the deficiency is corrected within a specific reasonable time, the lease will be void. If Landlord fails to correct the deficiency within the specified time, Tenant has no further obligations under the lease and Landlord must return all monies previously paid to him/her by Tenant regardless of how denominated.”
This will give you protection in case the unit you are given is substandard or not as represented.
Roommates with separate leases have an agreement similar to tenants who live in separate apartments in the same building. Landlords are responsible for solving any serious problems between roommates. Because other roommates have separate leases they do not need to worry about being evicted along with the other roommate or being required to make up the departed roommate’s rent payment. You should still document serious problems in writing to both the landlord and other roommates requesting actions they take.
Joint and Several Liability
It is important to note that under most leases roommates are jointly liable for the lease. This means any of the roommates can be held responsible for the actions of any or all the damage done by another roommate. All roommates can be evicted or sued if one roommate fails to pay rent or break the lease. Make sure before signing your lease your roommates are capable of paying rent and are responsible for their share of responsibilities and expenses. To protect them, prepare and write a written roommate contract between all roommates.
Breaking your lease
If you have to leave your place before your lease has expired, it does not automatically mean you lose every penny of your deposit. There are some legitimate, legally acceptable reasons for leaving during the term of your lease.
What to do if you break a lease?
Send your landlord a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, giving notice that you intend to break your lease early. When you send this notice, you have in theory violated your lease contract, therefore, it is wise to stop by and talk to your landlord before doing this. The landlord may have another tenant ready to move in and not be concerned about your moving. In some cases, the landlord may want compensation for the trouble of re-renting the place. If the amount of money he or she wants is small, it may be easier to pay rather than to become involved in a dispute. If your landlord has a security/cleaning deposit, you may want to offer to let him/her keep part of this in the settlement for any damages arising from you leaving before the end of your lease agreement.
If it is not possible to deal rationally with your landlord, or he/she will not make a written release, you should take steps to protect yourself. To alleviate this you may want to put an advertisement in the local paper or school rental board. You can search for a renter that will pay the same price you are paying and be sure to clarify that the lease must be agreed upon with the landlord. Of course, you run the risk of your landlord not wanting you to find a tenant either.
Another possibility would be subleasing your place if your lease allows or your landlord agrees. But you are still responsible for damages and rent if your subleasee fails to perform under the agreement. Having the new tenant sign a new lease is the best way to go.
When you rent a house or apartment, it is wise to insure your personal belongings. Most people are not covered by their landlord’s insurance so it is in your best interest to invest in your own. If your parents claim you as a dependent, first check to see if you might be covered under their policy. Usually, students are covered up to ten percent of their parents’ insurance. Different rules apply for different policies, be sure to check with your parents about your coverage.
If you are not covered by their policy, it is recommended that you get a policy of your own. Most policies for students are based upon renting an unfurnished residence. This type of policy covers high theft or target items like watches, televisions and computers. Usually, a minimum coverage must be purchased ($15,000-$25,000). The average cost for this type of policy can range from $120-$210 a year with a possible deductible. If you have roommates some companies require that each roommate sign a policy in order to cover everyone. All policies are different and there are many variables; therefore, when shopping for a policy call and get three to four quotes. Be sure to give each agent the same information and be sure it is accurate so you get the best quotes to compare. Agents also recommend that students ask about replacement costs. For an additional fee, the insurance company will pay a depreciated value for your possessions. After you find the rates and coverage that suit your needs double-check the prices you were quoted.
The landlord is liable for damage to tenant property if the damage occurred because of landlord negligence or noncompliance with habitability standards. The liability cannot be waived.
Being a good tenant
As a good tenant and neighbor, remember the responsibilities of being a renter.
- Pay your rent on time.
If you cannot, contact the landlord to explain the situation and give the date you can pay.
- Respect the property.
Keep your apartment or house reasonably clean and avoid causing damage.
- Obey the law and apartment rules.
- Do not disturb the neighbors.
- Excessive noise is a valid reason for eviction.
- Keep accurate organized records of all requests and transactions between you and your landlord.
- Let the property owner know when anything needs to be repaired. Put this in writing and hand deliver it with a witness or send by certified mail with return receipt. (US Post Office can explain these services) Keep a copy.
Most landlords ask tenants to fill out a rental application with information like the names of past landlords, personal references and banks where the tenant has accounts. Landlords use rental applications to evaluate potential tenants.
Applications have only one legitimate purpose: To give the landlord information about whether the tenant is responsible and able to pay the rent. If any information requested does not serve this purpose, ask why the information is needed. Don’t provide the information until you have received a satisfactory explanation. You are not required to provide information about your age, sex, race, student status, marital status or other potential discriminatory information. Landlords cannot use such information to decide whether to rent to you.
Subletting involves finding another renter to pay your rent and live in your dwelling for an agreed-upon length of time. The “original renter” is the sublessor and the “new renter” is the sublessee.
In a sublet agreement, the sublessor remains on the lease and retains the obligations of the lease. A similar procedure, an assignment, occurs when the original tenant, the new tenant and the landlord agree to have the new tenant take over the lease and its obligations from the original tenant. If you sublet your dwelling, try to make an assignment agreement so you cannot be held responsible for the condition of the place.
Many renters have unforeseen problems that can be alleviated by keeping good records of important information. Lack of knowledge regarding leases or other rental agreements can cause a variety of problems. By keeping records of rental repair requests, security deposit disputes and other important issues related to rental agreements you can alleviate many of these types of problems. The most frustrating problems occur when the tenant cannot document their grievances. To prevent this, start a file as soon as you sign the lease and add to it throughout your lease term. A rental file is easy to keep, considering the money you may recover through rental modification or qualifying for full return on your security deposit. If a rental problem arises, it is easier to negotiate a solution with the landlord when you have written records that show the extent of the problem, what you asked the landlord to do about it and how the landlord responded.
Your Rental File Should Include:
- Lease & all Addenda:
Keep a copy of everything you signed.
- A Rental Log:
Use a simple notebook to write all dates and times you contacted or tried to contact your landlord; make a note of any discussion. Logs are useful permanent records of how the landlord did or did not respond to problems.
- Check-in & Check-out Forms:
This is proof of the condition of the apartment when you move in and out. Keep copies and send the originals to the landlord by certified mail with return receipt.
- Letters to or from the Landlord:
Make any complaints or serious communications in writing and keep copies on file. All verbal requests should be followed up in writing with copies in your file.
Keep copies of building inspection reports, police reports and reports of other government agencies.
Photos may be the evidence you need to document a repair or security deposit problem. Photos should be dated and signed by a witness.
Move-in Condition Inventory Report
As soon as you arrive at your new “home,” it is crucial that you complete a move-in condition inventory report that lists the condition of the property and everything in it (furniture, appliances, etc). The report should be as detailed as possible; for example, the number of ice cube trays, nail holes or other marks on the walls, and condition of the floor, ceilings, fixtures, furniture, appliances, etc. In addition, check all the security features such as locks, windows and smoke detectors. If you notice any pests or vermin, and your lease states that management is responsible for pest control, bring it to their attention IMMEDIATELY. Once you have completed a thorough check of the premises, have the landlord or manager sign and date the report and keep a signed copy for your files.
Keep an updated inventory of your valuables by writing down serial numbers with descriptions of each item. Photographs should be taken of everything, but especially items that cannot be marked. Mark your social security or driver’s license numbers in two places, one visible and the other hidden. Keep a list of your valuables in a safe deposit box or another secure place. You can also give one to your insurance agent.
A Rental Agreement Can Include…
The ORLTA identifies what a rental agreement should contain and what the landlord must disclose to the tenant. If a written agreement is signed, a copy shall be given to the tenant as well as any changes, additions or amendments. Even if you have no rental agreement at all, the law sets out a few basic terms.
“Good Faith” means honesty in the conduct of transactions. The law imposes an obligation of “good faith” on every duty and remedy in the performance of a rental contract. (90.130)
Occupancy Limits- Landlords are free to set reasonable occupancy limits. The tenant must have written notice of the limits when the agreement is signed, or must agree to such limits in writing if they are adopted afterwards. A minimum of two people per bedroom must be allowed. (90.262(3)) Other factors may determine occupancy limits a landlord may set on individual dwellings. These factors may include: size of a bedroom, overall size of dwelling, or possible discrimination on a protected class. If the landlord imposes any unreasonable limitations seek legal advice.
Rules and Regulations- A landlord may adopt rules concerning the tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises. (90.262) It is best to have all agreements in writing for future reference. Rules and regulations are enforceable only if:
If a rule is adopted after the tenant has entered into the rental agreement, or if it makes a “substantial modification” to the tenant’s “bargain” (i.e., it makes a real difference in the value of the tenancy to the tenant), the rule is not effective unless the tenant has consented to it in writing. (90.262(2)) If the tenant does not disagree to the rule in writing and pays rent to the landlord, the courts have ruled that the tenant tacitly agrees to the rule. Note: A month-to-month tenant can be evicted with a 30 day “no cause” notice for refusing to consent to a new rule, unless the eviction is retaliatory or otherwise unlawful.
- their purpose is to promote the convenience, safety or welfare of tenants; to protect the landlord’s property from abuse; or to provide for the fair distribution of services or facilities to tenants;
- they are reasonably related to their purposes;
- they apply to all tenants fairly;
- they are clear enough to inform the tenant of what is expected;
- they are not for the purpose of evading the landlord’s obligations; and
- the tenant has notice of the rules or regulations when making the rental agreement or when the rules are adopted.
The following items must be disclosed to both applicants and tenants before entering into a rental agreement:
Tenants must be informed in writing of the name and address of:
This information must be kept current. If this disclosure is not made, the person who acted as landlord, (i.e., the manager or agent) may be held liable for the landlord’s obligations under the ORLTA. (90.305) That person is also deemed a “landlord” under the ORLTA. (90.100(19))
- any person authorized to manage the premises; and
- the owner or person authorized to act on behalf of the owner to receive tenant’s notices and demands, and to be served with summons and complaint.
The landlord must disclose in writing whether the tenant will be paying for any utilities or services (i.e., electricity, gas, oil, water, hot water, heat, air conditioning, garbage collection or disposal), which will benefit the landlord and tenant(s). Services that benefit the landlord or other tenants are if a utility or service that is paid for by the tenant and is delivered to any area other than the tenant’s unit. (90.315(2))
A Rental Agreement Cannot Include…
The ORLTA prohibits anything that waives the rights given to the tenant by the ORLTA. Landlords cannot rent a unit “as is” to get out of their legal obligations. (90.245) The ORLTA also provides remedies for other “unconscionable” or grossly unfair provisions. The following types of terms are unenforceable and illegal:
Penalty: The tenant may recover actual damages and a penalty of up to 3 months’ rent if the landlord deliberately includes such a provision(s) in the rental agreement and attempts to enforce it. (90.245(2))
- any and all terms that waive any of the tenant’s rights or remedies under the ORLTA; (90.245(1)(a))
- “lockout:” switching locks while a tenant is out of the unit. The only way to evict a tenant is through the courts; (90.400(2), (90.435), (90.375)
- “landlord lien:” a lien in which the landlord may hold a tenant’s property if the tenant defaults on the rent; (90.420)
- “confession of judgment:” a clause in which the tenant gives up the right to be heard in court by granting the landlord the right to a judgment against the tenant before the landlord has even filed a lawsuit; (90.245(1)(b))
- “exculpation or limitation of liability:” the tenant agrees not to sue the landlord for negligence or not to sue for more than a given amount; (90.245(1)(c))
- agreement to pay attorney fees if a dispute ends up in court: the ORLTA already provides that attorney fees and court costs may be charged against the losing party. (90.255)
Transfer of Possession
Transferring possession is when access to the property is given either from the landlord to the tenant or vice versa. (90.147) Transfer of possession may be different from the ending date of a rental agreement (i.e., if a tenant abandons the property or if there is an eviction proceeding). Transfer of possession from the landlord to the tenant occurs when the landlord gives actual notice (written or verbal) that the tenant has the right to occupy the rental. The notice may include delivery of the keys.
Transfer of possession from the tenant to the landlord occurs when:
- the tenant gives actual notice that he/she has given up the right to occupy the rental. The notice may include the return of keys;
- the landlord reasonably believes that the tenant no longer claims the right to live in the rental after the ending date of the tenancy;
- the landlord reasonably knows that the tenant has abandoned the rental.
Recovering the Deposit
A landlord must return any unused portions of a deposit within 31 days after the tenant has moved out, (90.300) provided that the tenant has done all of the following:
The landlord must also deliver, within the same period, a written statement of the amounts and reasons for all deductions the landlord is taking from the deposit. Note: If a tenant doesn’t get a refund because the landlord or the post office did not have a forwarding address, the court will not hold the landlord responsible.
- paid all the rent on time;
- given suitable notice of termination;
- returned the keys; and
- left the unit in good repair.
The amount that the landlord can deduct from the deposit is limited to the reasonable amount needed to:
- remedy the tenant’s defaults in the performance of the agreement (i.e., unpaid rent); and
- repair damages to the premises caused by the tenant, not including normal wear and tear. (90.300(4))
Unreturned or Misused Deposits
The landlord has 31 days to return the deposit or provide an accounting. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may get twice the amount withheld without a written accounting, or withheld in bad faith. If the landlord refuses to return the deposit or neglects to provide the tenant with an accounting within 31 days, the tenant may sue.
Contesting Use of the Deposit
If the tenant disagrees with the landlord’s accounting, he/she should discuss it with the landlord. If a settlement cannot be reached, the tenant may contest it in court. This situation could arise if: the landlord has provided what the tenant feels to be wrong accounting; or, the landlord introduces a wrong accounting in court to contest the tenant’s claim that the deposit was not returned.
The tenant should be prepared to show exactly how the unit was left and to prove that the items claimed by the landlord were either: not done as claimed, not necessary because the tenant had already done them, or were not the tenant’s responsibility because such work had not been done upon moving in.
Late Charges cannot be incurred unless the written rental agreement provides for late charges. When the agreement so provides, the landlord must specify the date rent is due, the date late charges begin to accrue, and the type and amount of the late charge. Late charges begin accruing after midnight of the 4th day after rent is due. For example, if rent is payable on the 1st, a landlord may charge a late fee on the 5th. Three types of late fees are:
Nonpayment of a late charge cannot alone be the basis of a “72 Hours” or “144 Hour” eviction notice for non-payment of rent. (90.260(6)) However, failure to pay a late fee can be a basis for eviction for cause. (90.260(6)), (90.400(1)) The landlord may also charge interest on unpaid fees.
- a-per-rental period fee (flat fee): a flat amount is charged only once per rental period, regardless of the date rent is due. The amount is based on the normal amount charged by landlords for that rental market;
- a-per-day fee: accrues every day until rent is paid, and is limited to 6% per day of the flat monthly late fee;
- a 5-day period fee: charged once for each late 5-day period and is limited to 5% of the rent payment.
Forcible Entry and Detainers (FED’s)
A Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) is the legal term for an eviction. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without a legal order (FED). If a tenant does not move by the date on the notice, then the landlord must file an FED at the county courthouse.
With any eviction notice, if the tenant does not leave within the specified time, the landlord must take the tenant to court to recover possession of the premises.
Types of Evictions
Warning: Evictions go on a tenant’s record, making it difficult to find housing later.
With rare exceptions (i.e., when a lease expires on the given date), all evictions must start with a termination notice.
All written notices from one party to another must by law be served by personal delivery or by “first class mail” only (not certified or registered mail). If a notice is served by mail, 3 days must be added before the notice will take effect. (90.155(2))
Note: The calculation of the notice period is from the date after the date of mailing or delivering the notice. (90.160)
Nail and Mail
The only exception to the above is for 72-hour and 144-hour nonpayment of rent notices, 48-hour notice of drug and alcohol free housing violations, and most 24-hour notices.
These notices may be served by “nail and mail” if it is so specified in a written rental agreement. The law requires that the agreement must also allow nail and mail service by the tenant to the landlord, and must describe a reasonable location for the tenant to nail and mail the notice to the landlord. One copy must be securely attached to the agreed upon location, and another is mailed first class.
Eviction Without Cause: the 30-day Notice Without Cause
The landlord may terminate a week-to-week tenancy by giving the tenant 10-days’ written notice, and a month-to-month tenancy by giving the tenant at least 30-days’ written notice. This termination date occurs regardless of any prepaid rent, such as “last month’s rent.” If the termination date does not coincide with the day of rent payment, rent is prorated. (90.427(3))
The landlord is not required to state the reason for the eviction. However, the landlord cannot use eviction without cause to discriminate or retaliate against a tenant.
Eviction for Cause: the 30-day Notice For Cause
The landlord may serve a notice terminating the tenancy for cause when the tenant:
The notice must specify how the tenant has violated the lease or obligations, and must state that the tenancy will end on a date which is at least 30 days after the receipt if the notice.
- “materially” breaches the rental agreement;
- violates the tenant’s obligations in a way which “materially” affects health or safety;
- fails to pay late charges.
The tenant has 14 days to fix the problems if it can be fixed by repairs, by paying damages or late charges, by changing conduct or otherwise. This deadline must be stated in the notice. A timely remedy will prevent the landlord from evicting on that notice.
If basically the same problem recurs within 6 months, the landlord may deliver a written notice giving at least 10 days before the termination of the agreement. (90.400(1)(d)) No second opportunity to fix the problem is required. The law clarifies that the 10-day notice for recurring problems can only be issued after 30-day written notice for cause was issued to the tenant and the date of a termination specified in the 10-day notice can’t be earlier than the date of termination in the 30-day notice.
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent: the 72-Hour or 144-hour Notice
In a week-to-week tenancy, if the tenant fails to pay rent within 5 days, (including the first day rent is due), the landlord may serve a 72-hour written notice. (90.400(2)(a))
In month-to-month tenancies or lease agreements, if the tenant fails to pay rent within 7 days (including the first day rent is due), the landlord may serve a 72-hour written notice no sooner then the 8th day. The notice must give the tenant at least 72 hours to pay or leave. (90.400(2)(b)(A))
If the rental agreement so provides, the landlord may serve a 144-hour written notice on or after the 5th day that rent is late. The notice must allow 144 hours (6 days) for the tenant to pay the rent or leave. (90.400(2)(b)(B))
Note: Both of these notices may be served by “nail and mail” if the rental agreement so provides.
Both forms of notice must specify the date and time by which the tenant must pay the rent. If the tenant pays the rent within the 72 or 144 hours, the landlord cannot evict based on that notice. The tenant can pay by mailing the rent within the allotted time unless:
- the notice is personally served;
- the rental agreement and the notice state that payment must be made at a specific location;
- the location is available to the tenant throughout the period of notice (e.g., mail slot in the manager’s door); and
- the location specified for payment is either on the premises or at a location at which the tenant has made all of the previous payments in person. (90.400(2)(d))
Eviction for Dangerous Tenants, Illegal Subtenants and Drug Dealers: the 24-Hour Notice
The ORLTA allows a landlord to end a tenancy on 24-hours written notice “specifying the cause” if the tenant, someone in the tenant’s control, or the tenant’s pet does any of the following:
Note: “Outrageous in the extreme” covers conduct that is well beyond merely annoying or obnoxious. The example that prompted the term was defecating off a balcony in an apartment complex. It also includes prostitution, delivery or manufacturing of illegal drugs, intimidation which includes gang activity and burglary.
- seriously threatens immediate personal injury or inflicts substantial injury upon another tenant, the landlord, or the landlord’s agent;
- inflicts substantial injury upon a neighbor or a person who has the landlord’s or another tenant’s permission to be on the premise (i.e., a repair person);
- intentionally inflicts substantial damage to the premises;
- commits any act that is “outrageous in the extreme.” (90.400(3)(e)) An act can be “outrageous in the extreme” even if it is not a crime. The landlord’s standard of proof is by preponderance.
The 24-hour notice also applies if the tenant has vacated the premises and the person in possession occupies a place in violation of a written “no subletting or assigning” clause if the lawful tenant is going and the landlord has not knowingly accepted rent from the occupant. An occupant who claims that the original tenant is still in possession of the premises bears the burden of proving this to be true. (105.139)
Note: These notices may be served by “nail and mail.”
The following is also included in a reason a landlord may evict a tenant for dangerous or illegal activity:
- If a tenant reasonably knows or should know (an objective standard) that a person is committing or is likely to commit an act that could cause the tenant to be subject to a 24-hour notice, the tenant has a duty to ask that person to leave. If the tenant fails to ask that person to leave, then that tenant can be held responsible for the acts of the other person.
If a tenant is aware of illegal activity in the premises, he/she should take steps to notify the landlord or proper authorities. The tenant may be considered part of the activity unless he/she can prove he/she was trying to stop it.
Waiver of Right to Evict
In general, a landlord waives the right to a “for cause” eviction if the landlord accepts rent or accepts performance by a tenant that varies from the terms of the rental agreement with knowledge of the breach. (90.415)
Example: If the rental agreement forbids parking in the driveway, you park in the driveway in January and the landlord was aware of it, yet accepts rent in early February, the landlord cannot evict you for parking in the driveway in January. The landlord’s acceptance of rent in early February does not protect the tenant from eviction for a breach committed after the landlord has accepted rent, such as parking in the driveway in mid-February.
There are important exceptions to this rule:
- If the landlord accepts partial rent before giving a nonpayment of rent notice because the tenant promised to pay the balance due by a certain date, the landlord can serve 72-hour or 144-hour nonpayment of rent notice to apply if the tenant doesn’t pay the balance when promised;
- If the landlord accepts partial rent after serving a nonpayment of rent notice, the parties can agree in writing that the landlord can proceed to court on that notice if the tenant doesn’t pay the balance when agreed;
- If the landlord accepts rent prorated to the time fixed for termination under a notice of eviction for cause (other than the “cause” of nonpayment of rent);
- There is no waiver if the landlord has accepted only the portion of rent paid from a public source under the Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437) to supplement the tenant’s rent; and
- A landlord who has filed an eviction with (FED) based on a notice ending the tenancy for cause does not waive the right to evict by accepting rent (or serving a nonpayment of rent notice) while the tenant remains in possession of the rental, provided that the rent accepted does not cover time beyond the date it is accepted, and the tenant has written notice that acceptance of rent does not waive the landlord’s right to continue with the eviction which is under way. (90.415(13))
- If a landlord accepts rent but refunds it within 6 days, the landlord would not waive his/her right to evict. The refund may be made by personal delivery or first class mail (mailed within the 6 day period), and may be in the form of a check or cash from the landlord, or just a return of the tenant’s check.
- A landlord may accept regular weekly or bimonthly rent installments, without risking his/her right to evict.
- The landlord may also does not waive the right to evict when the landlord follows a court order to accept rent from the tenant and then pay it to the court.
Many tenants are hesitant to take actions to enforce their rights because they fear that the landlord will retaliate by evicting them. The ORLTA prohibits retaliatory conduct, (90.385) and retaliation may be a ground for fighting the eviction.
The landlord cannot increase rent, decrease services, serve a termination notice, evict, or threaten to evict if the motive is to retaliate against the tenant because the tenant complained, or threatened to complain in writing, to the appropriate agency for any of the following reasons:
The landlord also cannot retaliate in response to the following actions:
- the premises have not been maintained according to law;
- delivery of mail;
- a violation of building, health or housing codes;
- a violation of a term of a rental agreement, including failure to disclose ownership or utilities paid by the tenant;
- the landlord’s abuse of access;
- interruption of service;
- the tenant has joined or organized a tenant’s union or organization;
- the tenant has asserted the right to 30-days’ written notice before a rent increase;
- the tenant has testified against the landlord in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceedings, and
- the tenant has successfully defended against an eviction action brought by the landlord within the last 6 months.
There is a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to live with a friend or find a place by yourself. A roommate relationship is more than a living arrangement. Roommates can have an emotional as well as financial effect on each other’s lives. Consider your class schedule, your study habits, your eating habits and your time management. Will conflicts occur because of clashes in personal schedules, styles of studying or diets? Do you have different opinions about levels of cleanliness and housekeeping? How will you handle overnight guests, borrowing items, parties or smokers?
You should have an open discussion with anyone you’re interested in living with. It is better to get any concerns out in the open before a lease is signed or an agreement is made. To determine your compatibility with a potential roommate, fill out the questionnaire in this section.
It’s important to choose a roommate wisely and to communicate so you can work out problems that might occur. If you arrange to share an apartment with a roommate you don’t know, ask the landlord to let you sign separate leases so each of you are responsible only for your share of rent and any damages you cause.
Beware; your best friend may not be the best choice for a roommate. Living together could strain your friendship if you find you disagree about any number of things. Negotiating a compromise, subletting or sticking it out can become very difficult.
Of courses there are many pluses and minuses to living with a roommate and by yourself. Living by yourself will give you the chance to enjoy solitude and release the potential burdens of living with others. Living with roommates, though, may help you save money by sharing expenses such as rent, utilities and telephone.
Here are some issues to resolve with prospective roommates before you sign a lease:
- Cleaning: How often should the place be cleaned and how should the work be shared?
- Privacy: How much privacy does everyone want and where to get it?
- Guests: Will overnight guests be allowed? When and how often can guests visit?
- Parties: Agree on how often, how many people and how late parties can run.
- Shared personal belongings: Will food, clothing, music, toothpaste and other belongings be shared?
- Bills: How will bills be divided among roommates and who will be responsible for the payment? If you and your roommates have to pay several utility bills, it is a good idea to put each bill in a different person’s name. This divides the responsibility and gives everyone leverage if a roommate fails to make payments.
Solving Minor Problems
A common problem is personality and lifestyle clashes. The best way to deal with these is to negotiate one on one with your roommate. Identify the problems, what causes them and what each roommate can do to solve them. Put any agreement you reach in writing and post it prominently, such as on the refrigerator. If necessary, you may seek mediation.
Solving Major Problems
Solving serious roommate problems are those that threaten your health, safety or substantially deprive you of full use of your apartment. The first step to solving such problems is to ask roommates to stop whatever they’re doing.
Offer to negotiate and work out a solution. If they ignore you or negotiation does not work take a more formal approach: document the problem.
- keep a complete record of roommate conflicts in your rental log.
- include specific dates and notes on what is said or what happened.
- use friends as witnesses.
- an important step is to write a letter to your roommate. It should be an account of problems that have occurred and steps you have taken to resolve them. Demand an end to the unacceptable behavior and threaten further action if such behavior continues. Present the letter in person and keep a copy. Writing a letter to someone you live with may seem ridiculously formal or embarrassing but it may be the best way to communicate your viewpoint.
Let The Landlord Know
When a serious roommate conflict occurs, it is important to send the landlord a letter that describes the problem and requests his/her help in taking action to resolve it. If the landlord responds to the letter, you will have aid in dealing with the problem. If the landlord ignores your letter, it may be more difficult for him/her to take action against you if you are forced to move out.
Keep a copy of the letter and send the original by certified mail with return receipt. You can ask the landlord to evict a problem roommate. A renter who threatens the health or safety of other roommates or who has broken the lease can be evicted. However, under a joint lease, the landlord would have to evict all the roommates and sign a new lease with the remaining roommates. The landlord could also choose to evict all the roommates for good.
The eviction option should only be considered by tenants who have a good relationship with the landlord and who recognize the potential risks involved. It is important to keep a copy of all correspondence if an avenue like this is to be taken.
When All Else Fails
Call ASUO Legal Services 346-4273 or Lane County Legal Services 342-6056 for legal advice. If neither roommate nor landlord takes action to solve serious problems after receiving your letters, you can give your roommate a written ultimatum asking him/her to move out and find a sublesee.
Keep a copy of the ultimatum for yourself. Subletting is the easiest way out of a lease if the lease permits it, but it can be difficult if roommates refuse to cooperate in finding a new tenant.
Roommates Who Don’t Pay
Each year students have to deal with roommates who don’t pay rent and landlords who want their money. These situations can be difficult, but tenants can take a few steps to resolve them. Talk to the delinquent roommate. However, the most effective way is to document that serious problems exist and record your efforts to do something about them.
For serious problems, seek mediation. If a roommate physically threatens or assaults you, steals your belongings or otherwise breaks the law, call the police right away. Also talk to ASUO Legal Services on campus or Lane County Legal Services for additional advice.
Coming to the University of Oregon can be an exciting adventure but there are several things one should consider when planning on moving to Eugene and important information for those who already live here. Parking is a limited commodity on campus and off. Students should be aware of solutions to transportation problems in Eugene.
The university encourages you to consider other forms of transportation such as the busses or riding a bike versus trying to battle against other students and staff fighting over parking spaces. Students with a current ID can ride the Lane Transit District (LTD) free of charge. LTD is a convenient way to commute to and from campus, take a trip to the mall, or to the grocery store. Contact the LTD web site at http://www.ltd.org, for information on business hours and bus schedules.
- Student Parking Permits are available for purchase by students registered for credit courses at the University of Oregon. Students may obtain parking registration materials and instructions from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which will verify each applicant’s student status. Misrepresenting student status can result in parking privileges being revoked and student disciplinary processes and/or criminal prosecution.
- Motorcycle, Motor Scooter and Moped Parking Permits are available for purchase by students and members of the university’s faculty and staff. The permit gives the registered vehicle authorization to park on campus only in spaces designated for motorcycle parking. Faculty and staff must follow departmental procedures in obtaining these permits, and students should apply through DPS.
- Temporary and Visitor Parking Permits are available for faculty, staff, students and visitors wishing to park on campus. Permits may be issued for periods of time from one day up to three weeks. The first stop you should make on your visit to the University of Oregon is at the Information Kiosk on the corner of Beech Street and 13th Avenue. Open weekdays from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM and the weekend schedule varies depending on events. If the kiosk is closed, or to obtain long-term parking permits, visit the Public Safety office at 1319 East 15th Avenue.
For additional information the parking link: http://safetyweb.uoregon.edu/parking/index.htm
|Reserved*(7AM - 6PM)
|Reserved* all times
Miscellaneous Parking Permits Prices
*Please see the web site for most current information
|Faculty/Staff (per term)
|Student** (per term)
|Student Overnight (per term)
|Visitor (per day)
|Temporary (per day)
|Temporary (three weeks)
Another mode of transportation is bicycling which promotes both personal and community health. Winter weather in Oregon can be discouraging for bicyclists but it is a fast and easy way to get to and from campus all year long. Campus offers an abundance of places you can lock your bike up while on campus. Bike theft is the largest crime on campus so to ensure against this, get your bike registered at the Public Safety office so they will have on record information in the case that your bike is stolen they can identify it later.
- Skates, Blades, & Boards
Skating across the University of Oregon campus can be a great way to get around. Riding safely and being attentive to your fellow pedestrians is an important factor to remember. The university understands that this mode of transportation is also used for recreational purposes. For this reason stunting and acrobatic maneuvers are prohibited on university property. There are areas designated within the community to provide one with space for these purposes. Within Eugene, skate parks are located at or near Amazon Park, Churchill High School, and Lane County Fair Grounds.
- Transportation Resource Center
The transportation Resource Center provides a broad range of information and resource referrals for the many transportation options available to students on and around campus. The transportation desk is located on the east building 2nd floor of the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) and you can visit their office Monday - Friday from 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
- Taxi Services
Another available transportation resource in the Eugene area is the local taxi cab services. Check your yellow pages for an extended list of all available taxis.
|Airport City Taxi Limousine
|Emerald City Taxi
|Emerald Airport Shuttle
|Express Cab Co. & Shuttle
|Jerry’s Taxi Cab Co.
|West Lane Cab
Anyone, male or female, is a possible rape victim. In 50% of rapes, the victim and rapist were acquaintances or friends. Educate yourself in rape prevention tactics by being aware of potentially dangerous situations, learning how to avoid them and what to do when you cannot. For information, or if you need help, you can contact the University Health Center at (541) 346-4441, or drop by the corner of 13th and Agate St. where the center is located. For more contact numbers visit this web site http://www.uoregon.edu/~jocelynh/resourcelist.html.
When inspecting a housing unit, be sure to check the exterior for adequate lighting in parking areas, pathways, front door and surrounding areas that you may be using. Look at the landscaping. Are trees and shrubbery blocking doors and windows? Could someone hide undetected? Ask what sort of security system is offered.
Check the interior for dead bolt locks. Check for a peephole in the door with a 180-degree view. Make sure sliding doors are secure. Is the front door solid or hollow? For entrance doors use either a dead bolt lock with at least a one-inch throw of if there is a window within reach of the door handle install a metal mesh grill over the glass.
For sliding doors or windows, never rely only on the existing handle locks. Anti-slide block locks plus antitheft locks are much more effective and offer extra security when windows and doors are slightly open or closed. These precautions are inexpensive and can be taken with you if you change residences.
Make your home appear occupied at all times:
Never open your door to anyone until the person has identified him or herself:
- Leave an interior light on a timer to come on at night when you are not home.
- Never leave notes indicating that you are not home.
- Leave a radio or TV on while you are gone.
- Invest in dusk-to-dawn lights for the exterior.
- Stop mail and newspaper deliveries when you will be out of town.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that you aren’t at home and never leave sexually suggestive messages.
Do not panic if your apartment has been entered! Leave right away in case the intruder’s still inside and call the police and property owner. Do not touch or move anything until the police have arrived.
- Always use the peephole when answering the door.
- If it is a repairman, call the company to verify his position before opening the door. Never leave the repairman alone, even for a few minutes.
- Do not let strangers into your house to use the phone. Make the call for them.
- Do not place hidden keys outside your door (intruders know ALL the hiding places).
- Do not attach name or driver’s license to a key chain.
- Be careful to whom you give or lend your keys.
- Do not forget to lock up every time you leave your home.
Maintaining your Smoke Detector
Too often the last line in a newspaper story about an apartment fire reads, “The smoke detector did not sound to warn residents of the fire.” It’s a fact: smoke detectors don’t always save lives. If the battery is removed or worn out or a unit is faulty, a detector is useless as fire protection. That’s why renters and landlords must be aware of the status of smoke detectors.
- Replace batteries when they are worn and monitor units for defects.
- Legally, landlords have to provide a fire protection system (which could be battery operated units or hardware systems) and have it in working order when you move in. It is the responsibility of the renter to report malfunctions of the fire protection system to the landlord as soon as possible.
- It is recommended that renters check their system once each month.
- If your unit uses batteries, push the test button to ensure it is in working order. If you have the hardware type, be sure to remove dust periodically because this blocks the ability of the system to detect smoke.
Safety on Campus
Your safety and security on and off campus is a priority. Many campus systems are already in place to make U of O a safe place for all students.
|Saferide, Nightride, & Designated Driver Shuttle
|Fire, Police, Ambulance
|Hazardous Material Spill
|Suicide / Depression / Stress Prevention / Sexual Assault
|Department of Public Safety
|U of O Counseling Center
|U of O Crisis Line
|Sacred Heart (Emergency)
|Student Health Center
|Sexual Assault Support Services
||485-6700 or 1-800-788-4727
||1-800-244-1111 or (541)484-8601
|AT&T, Internet Services for home:
|SANIPAC, garbage, rubbish, & recycling:
|DMV: department of motor vehicles
|Saferide, Nightride, & Designated Driver Shuttle
|Fire, Police, Ambulance
|Hazardous Material Spill
|Department of Public Safety
|U of O Counseling Center
|U of O Crisis Line
|Sacred Heart (Emergency)
|Student Health Center
|ASUO legal services: 334 EMU
|ASUO office: Suite 4 EMU
|Fire, Police, Ambulance
|Department of Public Safety
|Student Health Center
Students should utilize their City Councilors by voicing their concerns about issues that are taking place in their zones but also about housing issues. To contact Eugene City Councilors visit the city website for current information and current Councilors.
City of Eugene
777 Pearl Street
Eugene, OR 97401
Utilities and Services
A tenant should determine with the landlord who is responsible for establishing utility service. Unless the tenant and landlord agree otherwise, the tenant will have to pay for services.
Utilities can affect a credit rating, so tenants should be sure to keep up to date on all payments. A landlord can also evict a tenant for failure to maintain utility service.
If a tenant is unable to obtain utility services at a dwelling because the prior tenant filed to pay bills, the tenant has several remedies. (90.315)
If the tenant has not moved into the dwelling, the tenant may:
- Pay the outstanding amount and deduct it from the rent;
- Enter into an agreement to have the landlord resolve the lack of service,
- Terminate the rental by giving the landlord actual notice of the termination and the reason for the termination.
||1-800-244-1111 or (541) 484-8601
|AT&T, Internet Services for home:
|SANIPAC, garbage, rubbish, & recycling:
|| (541) 736-3600
|DMV: department of motor vehicles