Oregon law has long prohibited discrimination in rental or for-sale housing (including advertising the sale or rental of housing) on the basis of protected class status, including race, religion, national origin, sex, marital or familial status, and source of income. Prior to passage of House Bill 2639 in 2013, the “source of income” category explicitly excluded federal rent assistance, which primarily refers to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program; this exclusion meant that Oregon landlords could refuse to rent to applicants, or even to consider them, just because they had a Section 8 voucher. HB 2639, passed under the leadership of House of Representatives Speaker Tina Kotek, removes that exception and explicitly states that Section 8 or any other local, state, or federal housing assistance is included in the source of income protection. Oregon Revised Statute 659A.421 (1) (d). The new law also creates the Housing Choice Landlord Guarantee Program, to compensate landlords for damages incurred as a result of tenancies by Section 8 voucher holders.
Here’s a link to the bill: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2639/Enrolled
How does the Housing Choice Landlord Guarantee Program work?
The new law creates a fund to compensate landlords who incur losses – primarily property damages or unpaid rent – as a result of renting to a Section 8 voucher holder. The program doesn’t cover damages or unpaid rent caused by tenants with rent assistance from other housing assistance programs.
To be eligible for coverage, any damages or unpaid rent must have been caused by or result from the Section 8 voucher holder’s occupancy, damages must exceed normal wear and tear, and the damages and unpaid rent must be more than $500. The damages and unpaid rent must have been incurred after the effective date of the new law, July 1, 2014, although the tenancy could have begun before that date. In most cases, a landlord doesn’t learn of property damage or doesn’t have a legal claim for property damage until after a tenancy ends, although there may be cases where property damage is incurred and known before the end of the tenancy, such as from a tenant-caused fire. Claims are limited to $5,000.
The program is administered by the Oregon Housing & Community Services Department. To submit a claim under the program, a landlord will need to obtain a court judgment – Circuit Court, Small Claims Court, or Justice Court – from the county where the rental property is located. Claims must be submitted to OHCS within one year after the judgment is final (meaning any appeals have been resolved or the appeal period has run; there are no appeals from Small Claims Court; the appeal period for the other two courts is typically 30 days). OHCS is required to make the responsible Section 8 voucher tenant repay any amounts paid out of the fund, although OHCS may waive that requirement for good cause, and OHCS must offer the tenant a reasonable payment plan. The rules for the Housing Choice Landlord Guarantee Program are available on the web site of the Oregon Housing & Community Services Department, at https://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/pdfs/public_notices/813-360-Administrative-Rule-Housing-Choice.pdf
Links to read more about the rules governing PHA’s