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Landlords discuss new Brown order
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Landlords discuss new Brown order

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Rental housing vacancies 30

According to a survey from the city of Corvallis the vacancy rate in the rental market is about 5.5%, well above historical levels.

Property managers, landlords and tenants have received new marching orders from the governor.

Kate Brown issued an executive order Monday that extended emergency eviction rules that have been in place since March and were bolstered by House Bill 4213, which extended the moratorium to Sept. 30.

Brown’s new order moves the end date on the order to Dec. 31, with the two key pieces being the banning of evictions for nonpayment of rent as well as no-cause evictions. For-cause evictions remain enforceable.

The Corvallis Rental Property Managers Group (RPMG) discussed the new order as well as a rental housing survey released by the city of Corvallis at its remote monthly get-together.

On hand to help the landlords’ group understand the situation were Rance Shaw, an attorney who works with the RPMG, and Noah Chamberlain of Access the Law, a firm that represents Oregon State University students.

“On a practical level, this doesn’t change things,” Chamberlain said. “At a fundamental level, it’s extending what we’ve already been dealing with.”

It does, however, stretch the potential financial pain another three months into the future. And if tenants who lost jobs amid the virus can’t keep up with their rent, that affects the ability of property owners to pay their mortgages. According to HB 4213, tenants have until March 31 to pay back rent owed.

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The rental survey, presented by Tracy Oulman, the city’s housing and neighborhood services coordinator, offered the first glimpse of the impact of COVID-19 and the earlier no-eviction orders on the rental market in town.

Oulman sent the surveys earlier this month to 1,096 Realtors, property managers and independent landlords and received 185 responses, representing approximately 7,200 of the 15,500 rental units in town.

Here is a summary of the highlights (see the full text of the survey online):

• The vacancy rate in Corvallis is estimated at 5.5%, in line with the national rate of 5.7% but well above historical local levels of 2% to 3%.

• 2.9% of the units contain tenants who currently are not paying full rent, with another 5.5% expressing concerns that they might not be able to pay full rent in the future.

• Landlords have been responding to the challenge in a number of ways, the survey found. A total of 29% are accepting partial payments throughout the month, 25% are referring tenants to assistance programs, 18% are reducing rent, 9% are waiving rent and 18% are using other methods.

Oulman noted that nowhere near all of those assistance referrals are resulting in help for the tenants. And funds that the Community Services Consortium, the local state-designated community action agency, has to assist must be spent by the end of the year.

According to the survey, 1,700 tenants picked up assistance forms, but only 300 have completed and returned them. Oulman said that there was some confusion among tenants regarding how the forms worked that limited the response rate.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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