Landlord-Tenant Issues in Clatsop Evictions
While each residential eviction case is driven by the unique facts and legal issues involved, there are a number of common issues which apply to every eviction case.
Does Eviction Law Apply?
One common issue is whether residential landlord-tenant law even applies. In a divorce or separation situation, a common question arises whether one spouse or partner can keep possession of the home and “evict” the other person; typically, such issues will be dealt with in a family law case, or in some other way, and the eviction process may not be used. Additionally, if there are two or more people who have an ownership interest in a property and there is a disagreement about possession, the disagreement would have to be worked out in a civil lawsuit, but the eviction process may not be used. Therefore, a preliminary first step is to determine whether one can use the eviction process at all (and if not, what legal options are available).
Another common issue is that there are disagreements about a rental property which go beyond possession. One must remember that the scope of a residential eviction case is that the court determines who has the right to physical possession or control over the rental property; other issues, such as past-due rent, financial compensation for damage to the property, etc., must be handled separately.
What Does the Lease Say?
The landlord or property manager should always carefully review the lease, which may determine how best to evaluate, plan, and pursue an eviction case.
Not all leases are the same, and boilerplate forms which are not vetted for compliance with Oregon law may have defects which a tenant or tenant’s attorney may take advantage of in a contested eviction case. E.g., organizations such as Multifamily NW and the Oregon Rental Housing Association supply forms which they represent as being vetted to comply with Oregon law. (One should perform one’s own due diligence before relying on such forms.) Additionally, the landlord or property manager should not casually modify lease forms, which may inadvertently cause problems.
A common issue in defective leases is whether a landlord or property manager may use so-called “nail-and-mail” service—i.e., can notice be served by posting notice on the tenant’s door or some other designated place, as well as by mailing the notice, so that the notice runs from the date of the posting. The lease must also provide the tenant with the same option for providing notice to the landlord, and the place for posting notice must be clearly designated (for both sides).
Basic Steps in Every Eviction Case
Even though each eviction case may have its unique strategy and plan, every eviction case will follow the same general formula:
- Proper notice;
- Running of the notice period;
- Service of an eviction complaint.
When determining what type of eviction notice to use, a landlord or property manager should always consider all possible eviction notices. I.e., if more than one type of eviction notice may apply, the landlord or property manager should consider provide multiple eviction notices at the same time. Additionally, depending on the law and factual issues which apply to a given eviction notice, planning may be necessary to ensure that the eviction process is smooth and not subject to successful defenses raised by a tenant or tenant’s attorney. Finally, every eviction notice should clearly outline the details required by law, including the following: When the eviction notice expires; whether the tenant may avoid the eviction by curing the issue(s); who the addressees (intended recipients) are; which rental property is involved; etc.
If there is a reasonable possibility that the landlord or property manager believes that the landlord-tenant relationship can be continued productively without an eviction notice, then they should consider not pursuing an eviction notice and exploring reasonable attempts to work things out.
When serving an eviction notice, the landlord or property manager should consider providing multiple forms of notice, including: posting the notice on the tenant’s door or an area designated for such notices in the lease; mailing the notice by first-class mail via USPS; and e-mail to the tenant. When feasible, providing multiple forms of notice helps reduce the odds of a tenant claiming they received no notice.
When calculating the notice period for when an eviction notice expires the landlord or property manager should carefully calculate the timeline and take into account whether time needs to be added for mailing. Additionally, unless there is an emergency situation, the landlord or property manager should consider adding a few extra days as a cushion for the notice period.
An FED (“Forcible Entry and Detainer”) complaint cannot be filed before the eviction notice expires. If time is of the essence, the landlord or property manager can begin preparing the FED complaint in advance but should not file it too early. The eviction notice must be included as an exhibit to the FED complaint. When serving the FED complaint, the landlord or property manager should not themselves serve the tenants, but should have either the local sheriff’s office or a process server serve the tenants.
Once the FED complaint is filed, there is a limited timeframe for serving the tenants prior to the first court appearance, so the landlord or property manager should make sure service is completed in a timely manner.
Evictions for residential rental properties in Clatsop County, Oregon, are decided at the Clatsop County Circuit Court in Astoria, Oregon. This is true for all evictions for residential properties located throughout Clatsop County.
If you are a landlord or property manager and have questions about landlord-tenant issues on the north coast of Oregon, please contact Coast Land Law for a consultation about how you can best protect your rights. For residential landlord-tenant issues, we are dedicated to representing the interests of landlords and property managers. We have worked professional landlords who own large, multi-unit developments, as well as smaller mom-and-pop landlords. We work with clients who own or manage rental properties in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties.