Thursday, December 12, 2019

New Oregon Law on Applicant Screening Fees Takes Effect January 1, 2020

Multifamily NW, the law firm of Greenspoon Marder and HFO Investment Real Estate would like to remind owners of multifamily properties in Oregon of the following new law, effective January 1, 2020. 

Beginning January 1, 2020, there are changes to Oregon Revised Statutes 90.295 relating to charging applicant screening fees.

The law now states: “A landlord may only require an applicant to pay a single applicant screening charge within any 60 day period, regardless of the number of rental units owned or managed by the landlord for which the applicant has applied to rent.”

Although this may be simple for landlords using only one set of screening criteria for all of their properties, it is much more complex for landlords with multiple screening criteria, especially when managing affordable housing. It also poses challenges for larger landlords managing many portfolios with applicants submitting applications at multiple sites. In those instances, we advise a company-wide system to allow for monitoring applications from various sources.

Additionally, rules governing screening charge refunds were clarified and are consistent with general industry practices. Landlords must refund applicant screening charges within a “reasonable time” if the landlord fills the vacant unit before screening the applicant or doesn’t screen the applicant. Landlords utilizing waitlists should refrain from processing screening charges until the applicant is the next available person on the waitlist.

Damages for failure to comply with this section are twice the amount paid by the applicant, plus $150. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please make sure you speak to an attorney to stay in compliance with this regulation.

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