Oregon Renters’ Handbook

In the United States, you can protect your legal rights only if you know what those rights are.


UPDATE 3/28/17: Unfortunately, OSPIRG no longer maintains and updates the OSPIRG Renter’s Handbook.

However, if you are a renter and need some advice or assistance with an issue related to your housing, the following organizations may be able to help you.

Oregon Law Center (Click on the link regarding housing issues)
Community Alliance of Tenants
Oregon State Bar Association  (look for landlord / tenant information)

In the United States, you can protect your legal rights only if you know what those rights are. Unfortunately, many people do not. Our schools do not educate students on the rights they will possess as adults. The law itself is set forth in dense statute books filled with thousands of provisions, making it hard for citizens to find specific provisions that matter to them. To make matters worse, the law is often very complex, filled with technical legal jargon. As a result, many citizens are not aware of the rights they possess.

The latest edition of the OSPIRG Renters Handbook seeks to address this problem. It provides a critical public service by clearly and concisely explaining the rights and responsibilities of tenants and renters, so people who rent know exactly where they stand.  As someone who rented for years, from both good landlords and bad, I’ve learned the importance of understanding these rights. For this reason, I believe The OSPIRG Renters’ Handbook is a first-rate resource for the people of Oregon.

– John Kroger, Former Attorney General, State of Oregon

The 10th Edition of the Renter’s Handbook paraphrases and elaborates on the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act (ORS 90.100 to 90.875). Prepared by Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), the scope of the handbook does not cover mobile, manufactured or floating home parks, and it should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

The Residential Landlord Tenant Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) went into effect on October 5, 1973. All rental agreements are covered by the Act except residency in:

  • public or private institutions for medical, geriatric, educational, counseling, religious or other services (university off-campus housing is covered);
  • a dwelling which the occupant is buying (but a lease option is covered before the option is exercised);
  • occupancy in a fraternal or social organization in the portion of a structure which is operated for the benefit of the organization;
  • transient occupancy in a hotel or motel of less than 30 days, where rent accrues daily and is collected no more than 6 days in advance, and which has daily or every other day maid and linen service
  • a dwelling owned by the occupant’s employer if residency is contingent on employment in and about the premises;
  • an owner-occupied condominium;
  • or a working farm.

The remedies provided by the Act are administered so that an injured party may recover appropriate damages. Both landlords and tenants have an obligation to perform every act in “good faith,” in other words, honestly. Each party also has a duty to do what it takes to reduce damages as much as possible.

Renting is a two way street. Renters and landlords may unknowingly jeopardize their rights by not fulfilling their legal responsibilities. Both parties need to work together to establish a smooth, comfortable arrangement.

Note:  References to the Act are made throughout the Handbook in the form of citations of the Oregon Revised Statutes. For instance, a paragraph ending with “(90.300(4)(b))” refers to paragraph “b” of subsection 4 of section 90.300.  If a dispute arises, it helps to be able to cite the law on which you are relying.

The Oregon Revised Statutes and other law publications are available for purchase from the Office of Legislative Counsel at www.lc.state.or.us, and are also available at many public libraries and sometimes at the law libraries of the county courthouses or local law schools. 

Online, you can read Oregon Revised Statutes text produced from material provided by the Legislative Counsel Committee of the Oregon Legislative Assembly atwww.leg.state.or.us/ors. It is important to note that the official record copy is the printed published copy of the Oregon Revised Statutes. The online text is not the official text of Oregon law, and may contain errors.