TEL-LAW tape number 7304: Landlord Rules in Rental Housing

brought to you by the Oregon State Bar and your local bar association.
This is Tel-Law tape number 7304, Landlord Rules in Rental Housing, 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.

Under Oregon's landlord tenant law, a landlord can adopt rules or regulations about the tenant's use and occupancy of the premises. This tape will talk about rules in rental housing other than housing in a mobile home park or floating home facility. For information about those facilities, listen to Tel-Law tape number 7303.

In rules about use and occupancy, the word "premises" means the actual dwelling unit the tenant rents, the structure of which it is a part, and the grounds, areas and facilities for the use of tenants generally. For example, a landlord might adopt rules regulating the use of parking spaces, establishing the hours of operation of a communal laundry room, prohibiting or regulating tenant ownership of pets, and establishing a nighttime period during which tenants must reduce noise levels. Landlords of subsidized housing may face more restrictions on their right to adopt rules.

To be enforceable against the tenant, the landlord's rule or regulation must meet all of the following conditions:

Remember that a landlord's rule or regulation is not valid unless it meets all of these criteria.

If the landlord adopts a new rule or regulation after the tenant has entered into the rental agreement, and the new rule or regulation substantially changes the rental agreement, the rule or regulation is not valid unless the tenant consents to it in writing. For example, a new rule that reduces the number of parking spaces allotted to each dwelling unit from two to one would work a substantial modification of the bargain. The rule that specifies which two parking spaces are assigned to a given dwelling unit might not work a substantial modification. Tenants' consent is needed only where the rule makes a substantial modification.

Landlords may also adopt occupancy guidelines as rules. An occupancy guideline is a restriction on the number of people who may occupy a given dwelling unit. These guidelines are optional. The occupancy guideline must also be reasonable in light of the size of the bedrooms, the overall size of the dwelling unit, and any discriminatory impact of the guideline on people protected in civil rights laws on the basis of their race, color, sex, marital status, familial status, religion, and national origin. In other words, a rule restricting occupancy to two persons per bedroom might be found reasonable for a large house with two huge bedrooms. For the purpose of these laws, a bedroom is a room intended to be used primarily for sleeping purposes containing at least 70 square feet, and designed to take into account the need for a fire exit.

Landlords can impose new rules or change existing rules only after a minimum of 30 days' written notice, or at the end of a lease term if the lease itself does not permit a change during the term.

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.