Posted by: Larry Stevens | October 21, 2014

Rights and Duties of Landlords, Rights and Duties of Tenants, Residential Evictions

Rights and Duties of Landlords

It is important to realize that changes may occur in this area of law. This information is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem, and it is not intended to replace the work of an attorney.

FYI: No laws in Idaho. Only Guidelines.

This is from the Oregon State Bar. Make sure you read your Rental Agreement in Idaho and get a copy.

Rental Agreements are enforceable. (There is no Law’s in the State of Idaho) Federal Law’s are enforceable in Idaho. (FYI)  Equal Housing laws.

When you rent a house or apartment to another person, you enter into a legal contract known as a landlord-tenant relationship. This contract has certain basic conditions set by law that you should understand before you enter into this type of agreement.

As a landlord, you have the right to receive rent for the use of your property. You also have the right to have your property returned to you undamaged at the end of the rental agreement. It should be returned in the same condition it was received, except for normal wear and tear. In exchange for these rights, it is your responsibility to provide a home that is habitable and to make repairs when needed. You must also equip the residence with a properly working smoke detector and provide the initial set of batteries if it is battery operated.

It is your duty as a landlord to respect your tenant’s rights. These rights include the right of peaceful possession. By renting your property to the tenant, you give that tenant the possession and use of your property free from interference. That means that you may not enter frequently, at odd hours, without a legitimate reason, or without notice. You typically have the right to protect your property through reasonable inspection to make repairs and to show the property to possible buyers. You must give at least 24 hours notice of your intent to enter unless the tenant has asked in writing for repairs within the last seven days or there is an emergency.

As a landlord, you are responsible for observing federal, state and local laws when it comes to the use and condition of the property.

When you rent your property to someone, you must give him or her your name and address or the name and address of your authorized manager. You cannot discriminate against a tenant for having children, for being disabled, or for any other illegal reason. Some of the additional reasons include: a tenant’s successful defense against the grounds for a past landlord’s attempt to evict him or her; the tenant’s having been the victim of a domestic violence or sexual assault or stalking crime; the tenant’s religion, or race or ethnic background. In some locations, it is unlawful to treat differently people who are aged or who are not heterosexual.

You may not retaliate against a tenant by raising the rent, shutting off utilities, or trying to evict the tenant because he or she complained to you or a public agency about habitability conditions, discrimination or other violations of the law, or because the tenant joined or organized a tenants’ union or organization. You cannot lock a tenant out. The only exception to this prohibition occurs when a tenant who can demonstrate she or he has been the victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault asks to have the perpetrator tenant locked out of the unit where the victim of the crime continues to live.

To end a month-to-month tenancy, you must give your tenant a 30-day written notice. If your tenant has lived in the dwelling for more than a year, you must give 60-days written notice. The tenant may also terminate the tenancy with a 30-day written notice.  A week-to-week rental period requires a 10-day notice. A fixed term tenancy will end automatically on the last day of the term specified in the rental agreement. You cannot end a fixed term tenancy early unless you have “cause” to end it, such as a violation of the lease by the tenant.

When rent is more than 7 days overdue, you may give the tenant a written notice stating your intent to try to evict him or her if the rent is not paid within 72 hours. You can give a similar notice, for 144 hours, on the 5th day the rent is overdue if you prefer. If a tenant (or someone in the tenant’s control) harms you or your property, harms other people on the property, or commits an act that is outrageous in the extreme, you may give the tenant a 24-hour notice to leave. The notice must be in writing in a special legal form. It needs to explain the reason for termination, and it must be delivered personally to the tenant or mailed to the tenant by first class mail only. If a notice is mailed, you must add three days to the notice time. The legal form of the notice must be correct in all details in order to be enforced in court.

If the tenant ignores most of your notices and you want the tenant to move out, you must file an eviction complaint in court. The tenant will be properly served with a summons and complaint. There will be a hearing and possibly a trial where you can ask that the tenant be evicted. If the judge or jury agrees, you will be granted a judgment entitling you to possession of the property. If the tenant still does not move, you must pay the sheriff to come to the property to remove the tenant, and you must be responsible for temporarily storing any of the tenant’s remaining property until you make reasonable efforts to give the belongings back and they become legally “abandoned”. Rights regarding such situations are complicated, and getting legal advice is a good idea. Read “When Tenants Leave Belongings Behind” in this series for more information.

If the tenant moves out before the end of the rental term, you may try to collect the unpaid rent for the rest of the time in the agreement. Before you can collect the unpaid rent, you must first make a reasonable effort to rent the house or apartment again. You must take these steps even if the tenant has a written lease. In a month-to-month or week-to-week tenancy, your right to collect rent is limited to the usual length of the rental period.

As a landlord, you have the duty of accounting for or refunding to the tenant any refundable deposits upon termination of the tenancy. In order to keep all or part of the deposit, you must give the tenant, within 31 days after termination, a written accounting that states specifically why you kept a portion or all of the deposit. If you do not comply with this requirement, the tenant can sue you for twice the amount of the deposit.

The basic rights and duties covered in this information apply whether the contract you have with the tenant is written or oral. A written agreement is best because it serves as a record of terms and conditions you may wish to include, such as whether or not pets are allowed and special requirements for serving notices. If you wish to arrange terms for more than one year, the agreement must be in writing to be enforceable.

Legal editor: Ed Johnson, July 2013

When Tenants Leave Belongings Behind

(No Law’s In Idaho)

If you are a residential landlord, you cannot take or keep any of a tenant’s belongings until the rental agreement has ended. If you wrongfully take a tenant’s personal belongings while the tenant is still legally renting from you, you may be liable for damages and your actions may relieve the tenant of liability for unpaid rent or other kinds of claims you might have. After a rental agreement has ended, however, you have the right to dispose of a tenant’s abandoned personal belongings, but only after following very specific rules.

It is not always easy to determine when a tenancy has terminated and the tenant has abandoned his or her personal belongings. Under Oregon law, a tenant’s belongings are considered abandoned in one of three ways.

The first way is when the rental agreement ends. This means that the term of the tenancy is over. The tenancy is also over if: the landlord or tenant has given a termination notice; the tenant has surrendered the keys; or the tenant has abandoned the premises and the landlord believes that the tenant has left belongings in the rental unit with no intention of returning.

The second way a tenant’s personal belongings are considered abandoned is when the tenant has been gone from the rental unit continuously for at least 7 days after a court has ordered an eviction of the tenant, even though the sheriff’s department has not executed the court order or judgment.

The third way in which a tenant’s personal belongings are considered abandoned is when a sheriff’s department executes a court order of eviction, after which the landlord must take responsibility for storing the belongings. In this case, the landlord does not need to wait for seven days to see if the tenant returns.

Once the tenant’s personal belongings are considered abandoned, the landlord has the right and the responsibility to deal with them. Regardless of the way in which the belongings were abandoned, the landlord cannot dispose of them until after meeting several important requirements. The only exception from these requirements is if the landlord and the tenant agree in writing no more than seven days before the tenancy ends, or after the tenancy is over.

If you are a landlord, your first responsibility is to give the tenant a written notice explaining that his or her belongings are considered abandoned and have been safely stored. This notice also must explain that the tenant must contact you within 5 days after personal delivery of the notice or 8 days after mail delivery of the notice, to arrange for removal of the belongings, or else you may sell them or throw them away. (The time period is 45 days for abandoned recreational vehicles, manufactured dwellings and floating homes.) The notice must tell the tenant how to contact you, and that you will make the belongings available for removal by appointment at reasonable times. The notice must also explain that, under certain circumstances, there could be a storage charge the tenant must pay. Finally, if you think the fair market value of the tenant’s belongings on Jan. 1, 2012 or later is worth $1000 or less, or so low that the cost of storage and sale probably exceeds the amount that would be realized from the sale, the notice must say that you will throw or give away any belongings not claimed within the required time period. The value of abandoned recreational vehicles, manufactured dwellings or floating homes must be no more than $8,000 for the landlord to be able to dispose of them without sale. The same kind of notice must go to any lien holder or holder of title on these kinds of property, and to the county tax assessor and tax collector in the county where the abandoned manufactured dwelling or floating home is located.

The landlord must either have the notice personally delivered to the tenant or sent first class mail to the tenant at all three of the following locations: the rental unit, any post office box the landlord knows about, and the most recent forwarding address known to the landlord.

As a landlord, your second responsibility is to store the tenant’s abandoned belongings in a safe place until the tenant removes them or the required time period passes. This place could be the rental unit, a commercial storage unit, or your garage. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule: You may immediately dispose of rotting food, and you may allow an animal control agency or humane society to remove abandoned pets or livestock. Special rules also apply to motor vehicles.

If you follow the statutory notice requirements and use reasonable care in storing the tenant’s things, you cannot be held responsible to the tenant for any loss resulting from handling or storage. If you fail to follow these requirements, the tenant will have the right to recover any losses, and the tenant will be released from other claims. If you deliberately ignore the notice and storage requirement of the law, you will be liable for twice the tenant’s actual damages.

Once the notice has been delivered, the tenant has at least 5 to 8 days, depending on the method of delivery of the notice, in which to contact you to remove the abandoned personal belongings. The tenant may contact you in person, by writing or with a phone call. You then must allow up to 15 more days for the tenant to collect the belongings. The time period is longer (30 days) for abandoned manufactured dwellings, floating homes, and recreational vehicles. You must act in good faith to make the belongings available to the tenant at a reasonable time and place. You may require the tenant to pay removal and storage costs, but not any other charges, before releasing the belongings. However, you may not charge the tenant anything if you had the sheriff execute on an eviction judgment against the tenant.

If the tenant does not claim the belongings or contact you to arrange to collect them, you may sell the belongings at a public or private sale. If the belongings have a fair market value of $1000 or less or cannot be sold for a profit, you can throw or give them away to anyone unrelated to you. Any sale must comply with special rules.

You may keep the reasonable cost of notice, storage and sale, and unpaid rent from the proceeds of the sale. Any balance must be forwarded to the tenant, with an itemized accounting. If the tenant cannot be found, any remaining proceeds go to the county treasurer in the county where the sale occurred. You must not keep the belongings for personal use.

If you fail to notify the tenant of the right to get abandoned belongings or refuse to turn over the tenant’s belongings after a proper request, the tenant may file an action to recover the belongings. The court clerk’s office has standardized complaint forms for that purpose, as well as answer forms for use by landlords. A tenant must file such a claim within one year of the time the belongings were wrongfully withheld.

There are a number of significant differences in the law described above when the tenant’s abandoned personal belongings include a manufactured dwelling, floating home, or recreational vehicle. Because these items are often worth a lot of money, and there may be others with a legal interest involved, you should ask a lawyer for more detailed information.

Legal editor: Mark L. Busch, October 2013

Rights and Duties of Tenants

(No Law’s in Idaho)

When you rent a house or an apartment, you enter into a legal contract with someone. With this contract begins what is known as a landlord-tenant relationship. As a tenant, you have certain rights and responsibilities. First of all, you have the right of exclusive possession, which means that even though the landlord owns the property, you generally have the right to your privacy. No one may invade your “home” without legal authority. As such, your landlord must give you at least 24 hours notice before entering the property unless there is an emergency, unless you have requested repairs or maintenance (without designating certain dates and times), or unless the contract permits the landlord to enter the grounds (but not the dwelling unit) for yard maintenance.

Your landlord may enter the property after advance notice in order to make inspections, make necessary repairs, supply necessary services, or to show the property to prospective buyers or work people. If reasonable, you may deny your landlord permission to enter; however, you must act reasonably. Just as the landlord cannot abuse the right of access to harass you or enter at unreasonable times, you cannot withhold your permission to enter to hinder or interfere with the landlord’s exercise of his or her rights and responsibilities.

Second, you have the right to a “habitable” home. This means that the property must be safe and sanitary. The space must be free of pests when you move in, and there must be proper wiring, plumbing, heating and weatherproofing. The landlord must maintain these conditions throughout your rental period. Absent very specific conditions, the landlord may not charge you for utilities for other apartments or rental units. If repairs are needed for safety or sanitation, your landlord must make such repairs without charging you for them. If you have caused the problem, the landlord still is obliged to make the repair if you don’t do it, but you are responsible for the reasonable cost. You are also responsible for the cost of replacing batteries in smoke alarms in the rental unit as needed and for checking the alarms every six months to ensure they work.

If a landlord refuses to provide certain kinds of services, and if you did not cause the problem, you may correct the problem if you first give written notice to the landlord. In the written notice, be sure to define the problem and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. In some circumstances, you may then deduct the cost of the repairs from your rent, after submitting the receipts to the landlord. The law limits the time you have to wait, the kinds of problems you are allowed to fix, and the amount of money you are allowed to spend.

Before taking any kind of action concerning repairs, you also should check with a lawyer or your local legal aid office.

Along with your rights, you have specific responsibilities as a tenant. You and the occupants of the rental unit are to use the property only as a home. You must pay your rent on time, and you must keep the property reasonably clean. You may not tamper with the smoke alarms or damage the property. You have an obligation to behave in a manner that will not disturb your neighbors. Then, at the end of the rental arrangement, you must return the property to your landlord in the same condition in which you received it except for reasonable wear and tear.

If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, either you or your landlord can end the agreement with a 30-day written notice. The landlord does not have to tell you the reason for a 30-day notice, but the reason must be a lawful one. For instance, the landlord can’t issue a 30-day notice to retaliate against you for complaining in good faith about conditions to the landlord or a public agency or for joining or organizing a tenant organization. If your tenancy began more than one year ago, your landlord must give you a 60-day notice.  If you have a rental agreement for a specific time period, you may not be evicted before the end of that term without a good reason. If your rent is more than 7 days overdue, your landlord may give you written notice telling you to either pay the rent within 72 hours or leave. In the alternative, the landlord can give you a 144-hour notice when the rent is 5 days overdue. Your landlord may charge certain fees for late rate rent.

If you have caused serious harm to your landlord or to his or her property or to other people on the rental property, or you have committed outrageous acts there, your landlord is permitted to give you a 24-hour written notice to leave. This notice must tell you why you are being evicted. As in all cases, the landlord cannot evict you for illegal and/or discriminatory reasons.

If the landlord has properly served you with a notice and you do not comply with it, the landlord can seek a court order to have you evicted. You have the right to appear at the court hearing to challenge the landlord’s request for an eviction order. Until the landlord has obtained a court order to evict you, he or she may not try to force you to leave by removing your belongings, locking you out of the unit, or shutting off your utilities. However, if you don’t defend yourself successfully in the legal proceedings to evict you, the landlord may ultimately have the sheriff remove you from the unit, and you may be required to pay the landlord’s court costs and legal fees.

If you pay a deposit when you rent a house or apartment, the landlord must account for the deposit within 31 days after the termination of the tenancy and the return of possession to the landlord. The landlord may keep only the part of the deposit that is needed to pay for any damage directly caused by you, absent normal wear and tear, unless your rental agreement says something different.

Some of these rights and responsibilities cannot be bargained away or even changed by a written agreement. If you or the landlord wants to change your rental agreement, you should both agree to the changes in writing.

Legal editor: Ed Johnson, July 2013

Rent Increases

(No Law’s in Idaho)

Most tenants in Oregon have month-to-month rental agreements. If you have this type of tenancy, it means that you pay rent once a month and your rental agreement continues until either you or your landlord decides to end it. In a month-to-month tenancy, your landlord may increase the rent by giving you at least 30 days written notice of the rent increase. A rent increase may begin any time during a month. The rent for a month during which the rent increase takes effect would be prorated. Unless you can show that the rent increase is retaliatory, discriminatory or imposed in bad faith, you must pay the new rent.

If you pay rent weekly instead of monthly, and the length of your rental agreement is indefinite, your landlord must give you written notice of a rent increase seven days before the increase goes into effect.

Instead of establishing a month-to-month or week-to-week tenancy, you and your landlord may agree to a rental agreement with a definite period of time. A rental agreement for a fixed term is called a lease. Usually, a lease will state the amount of rent you must pay while the lease is in effect. Your lease may also list a method for increasing rents during the term. If it doesn’t, no change in the rent can be made. The lease may state that the tenant can be evicted at the end of the rental period without further notice. If you want to stay after the end of such a lease, it is important to talk to the landlord about a new arrangement well in advance of the end of the lease period. If the lease does not say a specific ending date that requires no notice, you and your landlord are free to talk about a new lease or to end the rental relationship. If there is no new lease, the tenancy automatically turns into a regular month-to-month agreement with month-to-month rules.

Somewhat different rules apply to rent increases for month-to-month tenancies in mobile home parks — also called manufactured dwelling facilities —and floating home facilities. To increase your rent in one of these tenancies, the facility landlord must give you and each affected tenant a written notice at least 90 days before the date of the rent increase. This written notice must clearly explain the amount of the rent increase, the amount of the new rent, and the date on which the rent increase becomes effective.

A facility landlord may not increase rent under a fixed term lease unless the lease specifically states that the landlord can do so.

Oregon law generally does not allow cities and counties to enact local laws that limit the amount of rent landlords can charge. However, the law does allow a state agency or a local government to regulate rents on residential property if that agency has provided benefits designed to reduce rents for low-income tenants. Such benefits include measures like property tax exemptions and long term financing.

Likewise, federal low-income housing subsidies typically restrict a landlord’s right to increase tenant rents, at least for a period of time.

Subsidized housing landlords must follow all regulations and contracts that apply to their property in order to raise the rents. If you are a tenant in subsidized housing, you may insist on some evidence that the government agency providing the housing subsidy has approved the rent increase.

In most government owned public housing and government rent subsidy programs, tenants are usually required to pay 30 percent of their incomes for rent. The amount of household income is usually 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.

Legal editor: Mark L. Busch October 2013

Residential Evictions

(No Law’s in Idaho)

It is important to realize that changes may occur in this area of law. This information is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem, and it is not intended to replace the work of an attorney.

This information applies to residential tenancies. The only way your landlord can evict you is by using a court proceeding for eviction. Your landlord cannot legally evict you by changing locks or stopping your utility services, taking your belongings, or by the threat or use of force.

Your landlord must give you a written notice in order to be able to start an eviction case. The most common notices include 30-day notices for “no cause.” With this notice, the landlord gives no reason for the termination of the rental agreement (although such a termination cannot be for an unlawful reason). If your tenancy began more than one year ago, your landlord has to give you a 60-day “no cause” notice. Other common notices include 30-day notices for cause; 72-hour or 144-hour notices for non-payment of rent; and 24-hour notices for outrageous or dangerous conduct. If you are still in the rental after the end of the period specified in the notice, the landlord may then file the case.

The court proceeding is quite speedy; its main purpose is to determine whether you have the legal right to keep living in the rental when your landlord wants you to move.

To file an eviction case, your landlord must complete a complaint form, which is available from the court clerk. Your landlord must give the clerk a copy of the eviction notice and pay a filing fee. If your landlord cannot afford the filing fee, he or she may ask the court to waive or postpone payment of the fee. Most court clerks have a form for this purpose.

After the court clerk receives the complaint and the filing fee or deferral, he or she schedules the case for a preliminary hearing called a first appearance. The first appearance is held seven days after the tenant is sent a copy of the summons and complaint. The summons tells you when the first appearance is. The clerk mails you the summons and a copy of the complaint within one business day, and these documents are also personally delivered to you or posted at the entry to your home.

The purpose of the first appearance is to determine whether you have a legal right to remain in the rental. If you do not show up, your landlord should get an order giving him or her possession of the property. If your landlord does not show up, the case should be dismissed. If both sides show up, the judge will want to know if you intend to move, if you and the landlord have settled the case, or if you want a trial. In some counties, the court will ask you and the landlord to work with a court mediator to work out your differences. If you request a trial, it will be scheduled no later than 15 days from the date of the first appearance.

To contest the case, you must go to the first appearance and file a form from the clerk called an answer. This form lists a number of possible reasons you may be able to win the eviction. You should check any that apply and list other defenses if necessary. When filing an answer, you must pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive or postpone payment of the fee.

Each side may be represented by a lawyer. If you do not fight the eviction and your landlord has a lawyer at the first appearance, the court should not require you to pay the landlord’s lawyer fees. The court may give extra time for each side to find a lawyer if the tenant does contest the case.

Along with showing the court reasons you should not have to move, you may also bring up claims against your landlord called counterclaims. These claims may entitle you to money from your landlord. It is advisable to contact an attorney before attempting to bring a counterclaim in an eviction.

If you wish to counterclaim or withhold rent, you may be required to pay upcoming rent directly to the court. Also, the judge may require you to pay rent into court as a condition of granting a postponement of the trial for longer than two days.

Except for their speed, eviction trials are handled just like other civil trials. Either side may request a jury. If the tenant wins, the tenant is allowed to stay in the unit and may recover a judgment from the landlord for any money the court decides is owed to the tenant. If the landlord wins, the judge will order the tenant to move by a certain date. The judge may order the losing side to pay the winning side’s court costs and legal fees.

If you lose the case and you do not move by the date named by the judge, your landlord can get an order directing the sheriff to enforce the court’s judgment. The sheriff will post a notice at the rental unit telling you to move within four days. If you do not do so, the sheriff will return and remove you from the premises.

The eviction process is set up to be used by people who don’t have lawyers. However, landlord-tenant law is surprisingly complicated, and a lawyer may be able to suggest options, arguments, claims and defenses that may help you win your case.

Legal editor: Ed Johnson, July 2013

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