Oregon Property Maintenance Laws

Oregon Landlords are Responsible for Maintaining Property for Safety

Landlords sometimes ignore their responsibility of maintaining rental properties in a safe and habitable state. In cases such as these, tenants may feel the need to consult a knowledgeable Portland premises liability attorney.

No matter how low the rent is (an excuse often offered by landlords who have not carried out essential maintenance and repairs), the person who owns the building must, under law, keep it safe for the people living there.

What it Means for a Property to be Habitable

While the word “habitable” could certainly be interpreted in different ways by different people, local housing codes generally define it as “the minimum standard for decent, safe, sanitary housing suitable for residential purposes” in Oregon property maintenance laws. The fact is, all rented properties in Oregon must meet certain standards, and when these standards aren’t met and residents or visitors are injured, a Portland premises liability attorney is allowed under Oregon law to make a claim against the landlord.

The landlord’s responsibility starts even before the tenant moves in. The residence must be in a habitable condition when the tenant arrives, and then the landlord is responsible for keeping the property up to the local housing codes for the duration of the rental term. To be considered habitable, any rental unit, regardless of the rent charged, must:

  • Be water proof and weather proof, with doors and windows that close and seal properly.  Doors should have proper and secure locks for which the landlord provides keys to the tenant.
  • Have a roof, floors and walls that keep out wind and rain
  • Have hot and cold running water and a functional plumbing system that provides potable drinking water and is connected to a proper sewage system
  • Have a properly installed, safe heat source, in good working order that is sufficient to warm the entire rental unit. The heat source must also be maintained in safe and good working condition.
  • Be safe from fire hazards, with at least one working smoke detector per rental unit. It is important to note that it is the tenant who must change the batteries in the smoke detector and test it at least once every six months.
  • If any appliances are provided with the rental unit, they must be in good working order, even if they’re not located in a specific rental unit (like central air conditioning units). In addition, common areas must be maintained is a safe state of repair, including elevators, hallways, staircases and railings.

Oregon Laws for Ensuring Safe, Livable Properties

A number of laws have come into effect which place additional responsibilities on landlords. Any rental agreement which commenced after July 1, 2010, requires the landlord to equip rental units with a working carbon monoxide monitor in virtually all situations. For more Oregon residential tenant/landlord laws, please read Chapter 90 of the Oregon Revised Statutes.

Other new provisions include:

  • From January 1, 2010, landlords must disclose the smoking policy for each rental unit, including the common areas and entire premises.
  • From January, 2010, landlords must say whether or not the rental unit is in a “100-year flood plain.”
  • If the building was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must advise tenants of the presence of lead-based paint and any lead-based paint hazards.

When a tenant moves in, the landlord must ensure the entire property, and not just the rental unit, is safe, clean and free of rodents and bugs. While the tenant is responsible for keeping their rented unit clean after taking possession, the landlord must continue to keep common areas and the property clean and safe.

A Portland premises liability attorney also knows that in Portland, the landlord must provide clean trash containers in good condition for all tenants, if the building has four or more dwelling units. In Portland and the rest of Oregon, in any premises with five or more units, the landlord must also provide a place for, and the regular collection of, recyclable materials, providing the city or county has a multi-family recycling service.

While tenants, their families and visitors are not allowed to deliberately damage or deface a rental property, it is up to the landlord to carry out repairs to a rental unit. Many people are afraid to ask for repairs to be carried out for fear they will be blamed or their rent might go up, but a Portland premises liability attorney can reassure you it is against the law for any landlord to retaliate in any way against a tenant who is seeking repairs.

Tenants, of course, have their part to play in keeping a rental property safe, clean and a fit place to live in, and rightly so. However, landlords all too frequently shun their own responsibilities to ensure no harm comes to the people living in their buildings.

Sadly, this can occasionally lead to serious injury or worse, and when that happens, it’s only right that the person responsible is held accountable. If you’re a tenant with the “landlord from hell,” and you or your family have suffered as a result, you should contact a reliable and experienced Portland premises liability attorney, who can advise you as to your rights and clarify all options available to you to put things right.