One of the worst positions to be in as a landlord and tenant is dealing with an eviction. This process is obviously difficult for both parties involved and some evictions can seem like they are taking longer than others that’s why in today’s article we will provide you with advice on the evictions process including tips on why some evictions take so long.
About The Evictions Process
It seems easy. Your renter is a deadbeat, and you want them out of your property. So why does it take so long to evict a tenant?
Unlike signing a lease agreement, a legal process so informal sometimes it’s done online, an eviction is a court process. A process that can be as acrimonious as a divorce.
Tenants are afforded legal rights that, when abused, can be used to delay the eviction for months.
First, the tenant has the right to contest the grounds for the eviction. The landlord will claim that the lease was broken, or a law was violated. Either way, the judge must be convinced that there is good cause to boot the tenant. If the judge grows sympathetic to the tenant, they may continue to live in your rental unit.
To begin the eviction process, notice must be given to the tenant — even if they disappeared or are refusing to accept service of the notice. If there is the slightest defect in the notice, it’s thrown out. A new one must be served, and the clock reset.
After being notified of the pending court case, the tenant has the right to challenge the eviction. While that commonly consists of a sweeping denial of whatever they are accused of doing, the tenant also can raise defenses at this time. That means challenges to the habitability of the unit, failure to make repairs or unfair treatment. Often, this is the first time any of these complaints have come to light.
Eviction Notice Requirements in Oregon
Eviction proceedings, also called forcible entry and detainer lawsuits, are governed by the Residential Landlord and Tenant chapter of the Oregon Revised Statutes. A landlord must provide the tenant with notice before filing the eviction lawsuit with the court. The notice requirements for not paying rent are slightly different from the notice requirements for violating a portion of the lease agreement.
Notice Requirements for Nonpayment of Rent
In Oregon, a landlord has two options for giving a tenant an eviction notice for not paying rent:
1. If the landlord waits for eight days after the rent is due, then the landlord only needs to give the tenant a three-day notice. The three-day notice must inform the tenant that the tenant needs to pay the rent within the three-day time period or the landlord will begin eviction proceedings (see Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.394(2)(a)).
2. The landlord can also give notice to the tenant on the fifth day after rent is due. However, if the landlord gives the notice after only five days from the due date, the notice must give the tenant six days, or 144 hours, to pay the rent or the landlord can begin eviction proceedings (see Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.394(2)(b)).
Notice Requirements for Lease Violations
A tenant in Oregon can also be evicted for violating the lease or rental agreement. Some examples of lease violations include not paying late rent charges, not paying the utilities bill, or having pets when none are allowed (see Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.392(2)).
Before filing an eviction lawsuit, the landlord must give the tenant a thirty-day notice that describes the violation and allows the tenant to fix the violation, if possible. The tenant will have fourteen days after receiving the thirty-day notice to fix the violation, and if the tenant fixes it, then the landlord must not proceed with the eviction. If the tenant does not fix the violation, then the landlord can proceed with the eviction after the thirty days has expired (see Ore. Rev. Stat. § § 90.392(3) and (4)).
If the tenant fixes the violation within the time frame but then commits the same violation within six months, the landlord only needs to give the tenant a ten-day notice before filing the eviction lawsuit. This time the tenant does not have the right to fix the violation in order to stop the eviction proceeding (see Ore. Rev. Stat. § 90.392(5)).
Eviction Lawsuits in Oregon
If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit or fixed the violation identified in the notice, then the landlord can file a complaint with the court to begin the eviction lawsuit, or forcible entry and detainer suit. The tenant will receive a copy of the complaint and summons from the court. The summons will have a date and time on it for both the landlord and the tenant to appear in court. This first court visit is called the “first appearance.” If the tenant is going to challenge the eviction, the tenant must attend the first appearance. If the tenant does not attend the first appearance, the judge will likely make a final ruling in favor of the landlord, and the tenant will be evicted from the rental unit.
At the first appearance, the judge will may order the landlord and the tenant to attend mediation to try to resolve the situation. If the landlord and the tenant cannot come to an agreement during mediation, then a trial will be ordered. If the judge does not order the two parties to attend mediation, then the tenant can request a trial at the first appearance. It is at the trial that the tenant will argue any defenses to the eviction.
Before the trial, the tenant must file an answer with the court. The answer will detail any defenses the tenant wishes to make to challenge the eviction. At the trial, the tenant must prove any defenses made in the answer. The judge will listen to both the tenant and the landlord and then make a final decision regarding the eviction.
If the landlord has retained a lawyer for the trial, the tenant should strongly consider using a lawyer as well.
The Oregon State Bar and OregonLawHelp.org, a legal aid service for the state of Oregon, provide more information about the eviction proceedings.
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