Oregon Renters Guide


Read on to learn how to keep your security deposit, get that toilet fixed, deal with a difficult landlord and more.

1. How can I get my security deposit back?

2. Does a landlord legally have to make repairs to the rental property?

3. When can a landlord enter a tenant’s dwelling?

4. Are there any circumstances in which a landlord can enter without consent?

5. What are most important things to do before signing a lease?

6. Does the landlord have to pay for utilities?

7. When can a landlord increase rent?

8. What types of termination notices (from the landlord to the tenant) are there and when can they be used?

9. When is it legal for a landlord to reject a tenant during the application process?

10. How are month-to-month leases different than fixed term leases?

1. How can I get my security deposit back?

A landlord must return any unused portion of a deposit within 31 days after you have moved out, provided that you have done all of the following:

  • Paid all the rent on time;
  • Given suitable notice of termination;
  • Returned the keys; and
  • Left the unit in good repair.

Before returning the deposit, the landlord must to put together a written statement of all of the amounts and reasons for deductions s/he is taking from the deposit, which may include any unpaid rent, repairs for damages caused by the tenant, or cleaning fees. Get the complete Renters Guide for more tips.  
back to top

2. Does a landlord legally have to make repairs to the rental property?

Yes. The landlord has a responsibility to take care of all repairs. If the needed repairs are caused by the tenant, their guest or pet, the landlord may bill the tenant for the cost of the repairs. See Chapter Six of our Renters Handbook for more tips on dealing with these issues. 
back to top

3. When can a landlord enter a tenant’s dwelling?

Unless the landlord and the tenant agree otherwise, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ written or verbal notice of intent to enter the premises. This notice is required, except for emergencies, for all repairs and maintenance work initiated by the landlord, or any other permitted reason. They may then enter at a reasonable time as agreed by the tenant and the landlord. The tenant may deny consent to entry. To do so, the tenant must give written or verbal notice to the landlord denying entrance or post it to the front door of the dwelling.  
back to top

4. Are there any circumstances in which a landlord can enter without consent?

Yes. Those times include:

  • In an emergency, which includes a repair problem that must be repaired immediately to avoid serious damage;
  • When the tenant has requested repairs in writing;
  • When the tenant has been absent for more than 7 days and entry is reasonably necessary;
  • Pursuant to a legal order;
  • When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises; or
  • To come onto the property in order to serve a notice.

back to top

5. What are most important things to do before signing a lease?

  • Read everything before you sign.
  • Write everything down.
  • Never leave blanks in the lease—either complete all blanks or draw a line through them.
  • Get in writing any promises the landlord makes to do repairs at a later date.
  • Only sign if you completely understand it.
  • Carefully inspect the unit and note any defect or damages in writing.
  • Get a copy of the signed rental agreement

back to top

6. Does the landlord have to pay for utilities?

No. You should determine with your landlord who is responsible for establishing and paying for utility services. Unless the tenant and landlord agree otherwise, the tenant will have to pay for the services. However, while the tenant might pay for the actual service, the landlord is obligated to provide access to a water supply.  back to top

7. When can a landlord increase rent?

Landlords may increase rent with a 7-day written notice for weekly tenants, and with a 30-day written notice for monthly agreements. In a lease, rent may be increased only at the end of the term, with 30-days’ notice, when the lease is renewed. 
back to top

8. What types of termination notices (from the landlord to the tenant) are there and when can they be used?

Chapter 9 of the Renters Guide has more tips on this subject.
back to top

9. When is it legal for a landlord to reject a tenant during the application process? 

A landlord is legally allowed to reject a tenant because they have been evicted in the past, because of their credit report, or if an application is incomplete, inaccurate or falsified. 

A landlord is NOT legally allowed to reject an application on the basis of race, color, sex, family status, religion, national origin or mental or physical disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or source of income. Many cities and counties in Oregon have further protections including gender identity, type of occupation, ethnicity, and domestic partnership. Appendix E of the Renters Guide includes a chart of such fair housing protections.
back to top

10. How are month-to-month leases different than fixed term leases?

back to top

Have more questions? Get the complete Renters Guide. You can find additional resources including legal referrals, legal aid, low income housing resources, and utility and other assistance resources.

Priority Action

We should know whether our food contains GMOs. Find out the top three reasons why, and pledge to vote yes on GMO labeling this November.

Support Us

Your donation supports OSPIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates, and take action on critical issues.