Top 12 Terms for Oregon Leases and Rental Agreements

Landlords in the state of Oregon must comply with specific state laws when it comes to renting out residential rental property. For example, Oregon allows landlords to allocate utility and service costs pay among tenants (but you must describe the method to your tenants), and you may add a surcharge for certain utility costs. Leases and rental agreements are legal contracts between landlords and tenants that cover these crucial business details, such as who pays for utilities or how when and how you will return security deposits.

This article discusses the top 12 terms to include in your Oregon lease or rental agreement.

Terms to Include

1. Names of Tenants and Occupancy Limits

Every adult who lives in the rental unit, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, should be named as tenants and sign the lease or rental agreement. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent and the proper use of the property.

Oregon has special rules regarding someone who is a temporary occupant (a long-term guest who has the landlord's permission to reside on the premises under an agreement separate from the tenant's lease or rental agreement).

2. Rental Agreement or Lease

Every Oregon rental document should state whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Your choice will depend on how long you want the tenant to stay and how much flexibility you want in your arrangement.

Rental agreements usually run from month-to-month and self-renew unless terminated by the landlord or tenant. Under Oregon law, landlords and tenants must each give 30 days' to terminate a month-to-month rental agreement; the exceptions are tenancies that last over one year (in which case the landlord must give the tenant 60 days' notice to terminate it). Landlords must give tenants 30 days' notice to modify the rental agreement.

Leases, on the other hand, set a specific beginning and expiration date, and obligate both landlord and tenant to a specific term, typically a year.

3. Rent

Your lease or rental agreement should specify:

  • the amount of rent
  • when it is due (typically, the first of the month)
  • whether there's any grace period you charge a late fee (Oregon does not allow landlords to charge a late fee unless the rent is not paid by the end of the fourth day after it is due)
  • late fee amounts and policy (Oregon law gives landlords various options as to how to structure these)
  • how rent is to be paid, such as by mail to your office
  • acceptable payment methods, such as personal check only, and
  • any bounced-check fee you'll charge if the tenant gives you a check that the bank will not honor. Under Oregon law, you may charge no more than $25, plus the amount your bank charged you for processing the check.

4. Security Deposit

The use and return of security deposits is a frequent source of friction between landlords and tenants. To avoid disputes, your Oregon lease or rental agreement should be clear on all the details, including: the dollar amount of the security deposit (Oregon does not set a limit, but most landlords find it impractical to charge more than one or two months' rent); the use of the deposit, such as to pay for damage the tenant causes; when and how you will return the deposit; and whether or not you will pay interest on it.

5. Nonrefundable Fees

Oregon landlords may charge certain nonrefundable fees, such as a fee for failing to pick up pet waste, but these fees are not part of the security deposit (and should not be presented as such).

6. Repairs and Maintenance Responsibilities

A key way to avoid rent-withholding hassles and disputes involving security deposits is to clearly set out responsibilities for repairs and maintenance in your lease or rental agreement, including:

  • the tenant's responsibility to keep the rental premises clean and sanitary and to pay for any damage caused by his or her abuse or neglect
  • a requirement that the tenant alert you to defective or dangerous conditions in the rental property, with specific details on your procedures for handling complaint and repair requests, and
  • restrictions on tenant repairs and alterations, such as installing built-in bookshelves or painting walls without your permission.

7. Utilities

Oregon allows landlords to allocate utility and service costs that they pay among tenants (you must describe the method), and to add a surcharge for certain costs. If tenants pay for any services or utilities that benefit other tenants or the landlord, the rental document must disclose this.

8. Entry to Rental Property

To avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, your lease or rental agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property -- for example, to make repairs -- and state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering. Oregon law requires that you give tenants at least 24 hours' notice (except in cases of emergency).

9. Restrictions on Tenant Illegal Activity

To avoid trouble among your tenants, prevent property damage, and limit your exposure to lawsuits from residents and neighbors, include an explicit lease or rental agreement clause prohibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, and illegal activity, such as drug dealing on the rental property.

10. Pets

If you do not allow pets, be sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the subject. If you do allow pets, identify any special restrictions, such as a limit on the size or number of pets and a requirement that the tenant will keep the yard free of all animal waste.

11. Lead-Based Paint and Flooding Disclosures

Federal law require landlords to make certain lead-based paint disclosures before tenants move in. Oregon also requires that landlords disclose (in the rental agreement) whether the rental is located in a "100-year" flood plain.

12. Other Restrictions

Be sure your lease or rental agreement complies with all relevant state and local Oregon laws including health and safety codes, occupancy rules, and antidiscrimination laws. Any other legal restrictions, such as limits on the type of business a tenant may run from home, should also be spelled out in the lease or rental agreement. Important rules and regulations covering parking and use of common areas should be specifically mentioned in the lease or rental agreement.

Where to Find Oregon Lease and Rental Forms

For Oregon rental documents, including leases and rental agreements, see the Real Estate and Rental Property Forms section of Nolo. These ready-to-use legal forms include detailed, clause-by-clause instructions that cover the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Oregon. Options include the following:

Downloadable Form

Oregon Residential Lease

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