Oregon Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 15, 2015
Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for at least 15,000 years. In recorded history, mentions of the land date to as early as the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European powers, and later the United States, quarreled over possession of the region until 1846 when the U.S. and Great Britain finalized division of the region. Oregon became a state in 1859 and is now home to over 3.8 million residents.
How to Screen a Tenant in the State of Oregon
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Oregon has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the Chapter 90 Laws on the Oregon Laws website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
Recent Law Changes
The 2013 Landlord Tenant Coalition Bill came to a compromise agreement on changes to the ORS chapter 90 landlord/tenant laws. The major components of the bill include renters insurance, screening and eviction criteria, and non-compliance fees. These new laws went into effect on January 1, 2014. 2014 Legislative Update
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Mold: At present time, the state of Oregon does not require that a tenant be notified of the presence of mold. This point seems to relieve a landlord of any liability should a mold issue arise, but this may not be the case. In fact, the presence of toxic mold may become a matter of personal injury, and can create legal issues in terms of defining what is habitable. Landlord Liabilities – Mold
- Owner Or Agent Identity: Oregon landlords must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving notices and demands. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.305)
- Legal Proceedings: If at the time of the execution of a rental agreement for a unit in premises containing no more than four dwelling units the premises are subject to any of the following circumstances, the landlord must disclose that to the tenant in writing before the execution of the rental agreement: (a) Any outstanding notice of default under a trust deed, mortgage, or contract of sale, or notice of trustees sale under a trust deed; (b) Any pending suit to foreclose a mortgage, trust deed, or vendors lien under a contract of sale; (c) Any pending declaration of forfeiture or suit for specific performance of a contract of sale; or (d) Any pending proceeding to foreclose a tax lien. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.310)
- Utilities: Oregon landlords must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy any utility or service that the tenant pays directly to a utility or service provider that directly benefits the landlord or other tenants. A utility or service charge assessed to a tenant for a common area must be described in the written rental agreement separately and distinctly from such a charge for the tenants dwelling unit. Unless the method of allocating the charges to the tenant is described in the tenants written rental agreement, the tenant may require that the landlord give the tenant a copy of the providers bill as a condition of paying the charges. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.315)
- Recycling: In a city or the county within the urban growth boundary of a city that has implemented multifamily recycling service, a landlord who has five or more residential dwelling units on a single premises must notify new tenants at the time of entering into a rental agreement of the opportunity to recycle. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.318)
- Smoking Policy: Oregon landlords must disclose the smoking policy for the premises, by stating whether smoking is prohibited, allowed on the entire premises, or allowed in limited areas. If landlord allows smoking in limited areas, the disclosure must identify those areas. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.220)
- Carbon Monoxide Alarm Instructions: If Oregon rentals contain a CO source such as a heater, fireplace, appliance, or cooking source that uses coal, kerosene, petroleum products, wood or other fuels that emit carbon monoxide as a by-product of combustion; or an attached garage with an opening that communicates directly with a living space, the landlord must install one or more CO monitors and give tenants written instructions for testing the alarms. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.316)
- Flood Zone: If Oregon dwelling units are located in a 100-year flood plain, the landlord must provide notice in the dwelling unit rental agreement that the dwelling unit is located within the flood plain. If a landlord fails to provide a notice, and the tenant of the dwelling unit suffers an uninsured loss due to flooding, the tenant may recover from the landlord the lesser of the actual damages for the uninsured loss or two months rent. (Ore. Rev. Stat. 90.228)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for Oregon:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Oregon: OR Admin Office Of Courts, OR Department Of Corrections, OR Judicial Department, OR Sex Offender Registry, OR Sex Offender Umatilla Indian Tribe.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, Yamhill.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, Yamhill.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for Oregon Landlords
- Oregon State Bar Lawyer Search
- Oregon Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in Oregon (Wikipedia)