Rules expand for Oregon landlords to get unpaid rent help

Coronavirus

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — To prevent a wave of evictions when the moratorium expires at the end of June, Oregon created a $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund. But the rules left some landlords out until now.

The Landlord Compensation Fund is being distributed in 3 round. For the first 2 rounds, help is only available to landlords with current tenants behind on rent. That does not include tenants who have since moved out but still owe back rent.

Multifamily Northwest Executive Director Deborah Imse said this leaves out a huge number of people who need help. In a survey they did last month, 38 landlords reported that out of a total of 13,000 units, 426 people moved out — owing roughly $1.1 million in unpaid rent.

If that’s applied to all rentals, they estimate former tenants have left landlords across Oregon with $50 million in unpaid rent — just from the vacated units.

Imse said this group shouldn’t be disqualified from getting state help because some may have moved out to avoid racking up even more unpaid rent.

“They’re trying to make and are making responsible decisions based on what the circumstances in their lives are right now,” she told KOIN 6 News. “What is heartbreaking is many of those folks eventually may have qualified for some type of rental assistance.”

After hearing these concerns, State Rep. Pam Marsh said they decided to change the rules for Round 3 to include former tenants.

Round 3, she said, “will be open to situations in which a tenant has moved out of home, is still accessible, still willing to sign over a declaration form, and to provide an address.”

That phase is expected to open in June .

But some worry there won’t be enough funding for everyone who needs it. Rep. Marsh is cautiously optimistic there will be.

“We have a bunch of federal money that’s coming that will add to the pot, so with the federal money, with the state money, I’m hopeful that we take care of a lot of that need.”

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