TEL-LAW tape number 7302:
Rent Increases

brought to you by the Oregon State Bar and your local bar association.
This is Tel-Law tape number 7302, Rent Increases, brought to you by the Oregon State Bar and your local bar association. The material presented is intended to alert you to possible legal problems and solutions.

This tape will discuss the procedures a landlord must use in order to increase rent in residential dwelling units. Included in the discussion will be rent raises in most private residential dwellings, in manufactured dwelling and floating home facilities, and finally in subsidized housing.

Most tenants in Oregon live under month-to-month rental agreements, in which the tenant pays rent once a month and the agreement continues indefinitely until either the landlord or the tenant decides to end it. In such month-to-month tenancies, the landlord may increase rent by giving the tenant at least 30 days notice in writing of the rent increase. A rent increase may take effect any time during a month. The rent for a month during which the rent increase takes effect would be prorated. Unless the tenant can show that the rent increase is retaliatory, discriminatory, or imposed in bad faith, the tenant must pay the new rent.

If the tenant pays rent weekly instead of monthly, and the term of the rental agreement is indefinite, the landlord must give the tenant seven days written notice of a rent increase.

A landlord and a tenant may agree to enter into a rental agreement for a definite period of time, instead of establishing a month-to-month or week-to-week tenancy. A rental agreement for a fixed term is called a lease. Usually, the lease will establish the amount of rent the tenant must pay while the lease is in effect, or the lease may set forth a method for increasing rents during the term. Generally, the terms of the lease will control how rent increases are imposed. At the end of the lease, the landlord and the tenant are free to negotiate a new lease or to end the relationship. If there is no new lease, the tenancy turns into a regular month-to-month agreement at the end of the lease and the month-to-month rules would apply.

Somewhat different rules apply to rent increases in month-to-month tenancies in mobile home parks--also called manufactured dwelling facilities--and floating home facilities. To increase the rent in such tenancies, the facility landlord must give written notice to each affected tenant at least 90 days prior to the effective date of the rent increase. This written notice must specify the amount of the rent increase, the amount of the new rent, and the date on which the rent increase becomes effective.

The facility landlord must give each tenant affected by a rent increase written notice that the landlord or landlord's representative will be available to discuss the rent increase at a specific time and place. A tenant association may also request such a meeting. The requirements for notice and timing of these meetings are quite detailed, and landlords and tenants may wish to seek further information about what the landlord must do to comply. Although a rent increase in a facility is not effective unless the landlord complies with this law in all respects, nothing in the law requires a landlord to compromise or reduce a rent increase that the landlord may otherwise impose.

A facility landlord may not use the procedure just described to increase rent under a fixed term lease unless the lease specifically allows the landlord to do so.

Oregon law generally prohibits cities and counties from enacting local laws that limit the rents that landlords can charge. However, the law does allow a state agency or a local government to regulate rents on residential property for which it has provided benefits for the purpose of reducing rents for low income tenants. Such benefits include measures like property tax exemptions and long term financing.

Likewise, federal low income housing subsidies generally restrict the landlord's right to increase tenant rents.

Subsidized housing landlords must comply with all regulations and contracts that apply to their property in order to raise the rents. Tenants in subsidized housing may insist on some evidence of approval of a proposed rent increase by the government agency that provides the housing subsidy.

In most government owned public housing and government rent subsidy programs, tenants generally are required to pay 30% of their incomes for rent. The amount of household income is generally reviewed at least once a year, and the tenant may have obligations to report increases or decreases in income to the public housing authority and/or to the landlord.

Under the federal Section 8 rent subsidy program, a landlord agrees to rent a dwelling unit to a low income tenant, who pays approximately 30% of income for rent. The remainder of the rent is paid by the public housing authority. The landlord's right to raise the total rent is regulated by the landlord's contract with the housing authority and by federal regulations. The landlord is prohibited under the Section 8 program from charging the tenant any rent in excess of that which the tenant is required to pay under the lease, which must be approved by the housing authority.

This is a complex and changing area of the law. It is important that you realize that some of the information on this tape may be out of date by the time you hear it. This tape is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem, and is not intended to replace the work of an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service can assist you. The number to call is 684-3763 or toll-free in Oregon, 1-800-452-7636. They will help you contact a lawyer who can advise you.

The foregoing text is a transcription of a Tel-Law transcript that you can hear by calling 503-620-3000 or toll free (in oregon only) at 1-800-452-4776. OLA brings this transcription to you with the cooperation of the Oregon State Bar. this script is based on Oregon law, produced by volunteer lawyers as a public service. The law of other states may be different. Also, the information may be out of date. OLA encourages you to seek an attorney before relying upon this information.