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November Elections in Oregon

The November elections are now around the corner and landlords throughout the state of Oregon should be aware of what is at stake with each individual vote.

Let me begin with a quick recap: In 2017 HB 2004, a “rent control” bill, was introduced in the state legislature. It seems like ancient history now. There was a lot of testimony and a lot of press and a lot of drama and angst on both sides of the debate. It was a hearing packed by both property owners and tenants’ rights advocates and it got heated.  Don’t remember the details?  I found this summary from Oregon Rental Housing Association:

  • HB 2004 PROHIBITS landlords from terminating a month-to-month tenancy without cause, except under certain circumstances, with 90 days’ written notice and payment of relocation expenses that could be upwards of $5000.
  • It also REQUIRES fixed term tenancies to become month-to-month tenancies on the ending date, unless the tenant elects to renew or terminate tenancy and REQUIRES the landlord to make tenant an offer to renew fixed term tenancy.
  • Repeals the statewide prohibition on Rent Control.”

When the 2017 session ended, HB 2004 was defeated and landlords “won”, to a great wave of relief.

If you are a landlord with rentals in the City of Portland, this would all just sound like deja vu. Why? Because it passed to a large degree Citywide in April, 2017. Portland rental property owners have been dealing with the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for a couple of years now. A lawsuit that was filed in state court was defeated and is now in the appellate court waiting to be heard.

Meanwhile, the rest of the landlords throughout the state have been scratching their heads, musing that this must just be one of those “keep Portland weird” issues… After all, “everyone knows rent control doesn’t work!” Right?

It is important to point out, however, that HB 2004 did not “lose” statewide in terms of its momentum. The bill was only narrowly defeated. How narrowly? By one, single vote. It was a victory, but it did not reveal the stronger team.  (Click here to see the how representatives voted.)

If you don’t recall the rest of the story, let me share some details with you.

Sen. Rod Monroe, a landlord and Democrat for District 24, held the line. The final vote failed by his stance alone. It became a bellwether moment in his career. Subsequently, after the session ended, Senator Monroe was aggressively picketed by the group Portland Tenants United. During the hearings, they trespassed into his office at the State Capital, leaving an “eviction” notice. Later, they staged a demonstration at his church, handing out defaming literature. A few months later, they disrupted his 75th birthday party at his house with flash mobs, and tried to intimidate guests with intrusive photographing, and they even dropped off a box of wrapped dog poop at his front door. (They rang the bell and ran!) In my opinion, none of these tactics add anything productive to the efforts of working on important legislation.

Earlier this year, Senator Monroe (who was first elected as a State Representative in 1976 and has been district’s State Senator since 1980), was defeated in the State Primaries by a novice candidate who ran on an “anti-landlord” platform. Rod Monroe is finishing out his final year in office in these remaining months of 2018.

Going forward at the State Capital, the legislative math on housing rights is pretty simple: There is no longer any sure vote in the entire State of Oregon to stop a bill like HB 2004 from re-surfacing and passing, and there remains a lot of left-over dissatisfaction from the Tenants’ Rights advocates. With a presumed super majority being (re) elected in November, these groups and politicians are preparing to celebrate.

I encourage all rental property owners in our great state to know their districts and look into where their candidates stand on housing issues. If they are running for re-election, find out how they voted in 2017 on HB 2004 and vote accordingly. If they are challenging the incumbent, let them know how you feel to earn your vote.

The November elections will make up the State’s legislative session beginning in February 2019.

What’s at stake? How far will the State go on disrupting property owners’ rights? No one knows for sure, but I’m sure that if you could see the writing on the wall, it would spell RE-N-T  C-O-N-T-R-O-L.


Oregonian Editorial on Portland’s Proposed Changes to Tenant Screening Guidelines, KOIN News Discusses Impact

Proposed protections for renters miss mark

EDITORIAL by Helen Jung

“Eudaly’s overly complicated proposal neglects to address the housing shortage — and may contribute to it.”

Portland’s elected officials are doing their part to promote the $652.8 million regional housing bond going to voters this November. They have contributed to the campaign, offered their heartfelt support in public meetings and signed on as official endorsers for the bond.

But if they really want to help get and keep families housed, they should focus on how their own policies stand in the way. Because regardless of the bond’s success or failure, the duration and severity of this housing crisis hinge on whether leaders encourage the market as a whole to add more housing or quash it.

Unfortunately, a sweeping proposal being developed by Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly falls squarely in the latter category.

Eudaly announced months ago that her office was looking at the process with which landlords screen potential tenants. The intent, policy director Jamey Duhamel told The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board, is to ensure fair rental practices while helping needy renters, whose monthly income, criminal background or credit history would typically turn off potential landlords.

The motivation seems understandable. The method, however, leaves much to be desired. Eudaly’s eight-page proposal as currently drafted is heavy-handed, overly complicated and forces so much financial and legal risk onto landlords that many may opt to leave the rental business altogether. And the bigger question remains: How do these policies make housing any more affordable?

Among the many co! ncerns in the latest version released: Landlords are not allow! ed to require that applicants show a monthly income of more than twice the monthly rent, even though three times monthly rent is more typical as assurance that a tenant can afford the payments. Landlords must go through an extensive and confusing matrix of questions in evaluating whether an applicant’s criminal history merits a denial. And landlords must issue a written explanation to tenants who are denied after being vetted. The “notice of denial” must detail the reasons for turning down the applicant and establish that they are “highly and substantially more probably to be true than not that the applicant as a tenant will adversely affect the substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the landlord.”

It’s not just a daunting set of poorly written requirements. It’s also an invitation to rejected applicants to sue.

Duhamel said Eudaly’s office is focusing! on how to “fine-tune” the proposal, which is tentatively scheduled to go before the City Council next month, to ease the administrative burden. But the flaws in the policy aren’t going to be fixed by fine-tuning. The problems are baked into the fundamental assumptions underlying the policy.

For example, the screening proposal seems to assert that the city — not landlords — should get to decide how much financial risk landlords should bear. Citizens have not and should not hand over that kind of authority to city commissioners who believe their policy choices trump an individual’s financial autonomy.

It also fails to consider that there are many landlords and affordable-housing groups that already accept tenants with criminal histories or credit problems. They do so not by following a rigid list of criteria but after considering the mix of tenants or other location-specific issues that make a tenant more suitable in one building than another.

And it neglects to address the underlying reason that people are struggling to find affordable places to live — a lack of housing on every income level caused by years of underbuilding.  Instead, such onerous mandates on landlords — with limited ways to protect against the risk — could prompt some to drastically raise rent when units become vacant or take the property out of the rental market entirely.

Duhamel said that, in her opinion, only a handful of landlords would likely get out of the business altogether, dismissing “what if” concerns as “fearmongering.” But she acknowledges the city has no data on how a previous policy — mandatory relocation assistance to tenants whose leases are not renewed — may have affected the rental market. Others, who admittedly represent the landlord viewpoint, say it has definitely led to the loss of many rentals. Since the beginning of the year, 30 landlords who used the Garcia Group property management firm decided to sell their properties, owner Ron Garcia told The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board. That’s a tenth of the ownership portfolio, he said, and many of the properties were condos or single-family homes that likely went to buyers seeking to occupy, rather than rent, the property.

The region’s housing crisis is real, with thousands of homeless people living on the str! eet and many more on the brink as wages don’t keep pace with! rent. But landlords’ screening policies aren’t the reason Portland is in a housing crisis. Leaders should focus on the true culprit — the need for more housing at all income levels — and make sure they don’t unwittingly become an accomplice.

— Helen Jung for The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board This editorial expresses the opinion of The Oregonian/ OregonLive editorial board, one of whose members owns a rental condominium unit.

View KOIN Interview here:

Portland tenants vs landlords heads to City Council

Proposed new rules have landlords upset

By: Lisa Balick and KOIN 6 News Staff
Posted: Sep 14, 2018 04:17 PM PDT  Updated: Sep 14, 2018 04:46 PM PDT
PLEASE ALSO NOTE: Rental Housing Alliance Oregon is encouraging its members to attend and testify at both the Rental Services Commission meetings and Portland City Council meetings. Please visit the following for scheduling information; Rental Services Commission Meeting Schedule / Portland City Council Meeting Schedule The screening criteria and security deposit proposal currently being proposed is coming from the office of Chloe Eudaly. The RSC is an advisory committee for Mayor Ted Wheeler on housing policy. The entire City Council must vote on any proposal to become law.

Portland Permanently Enacts its Tenant Relocation Ordinance

The City of Portland enacted its Renter Protection ordinance in February, 2016 as a temporary emergency measure to address the city’s housing crisis. When they did this, they decided to leave exempted any owner with only 1 Portland rental unit from being affected. As this all occurred, there was a lot of discussion and a lawsuit was filed against the city.  Within a few months, however it lost in court.

On March 7, 2018 the Portland City Council voted unanimously to both remove that single owner exemption and also make the ordinance permanent. Additionally, they have signed off on a program requiring mandatory Landlord registration, and there are many questions remaining as to what the collected data will consist of and for what purposes it will be used.  Clikc here to read the Affordable Housing Preservation and Portland Renter Protections Ordiance. 

Next on the list, per the mayor’s Residential Services Commission (which I was formally a member, but resigned due to its overwhelming bias against landlords), 3 issues remain to be “accomplished”:

  1. Revise and regulate landlords’ screening criteria, making it nearly impossible to deny an application under the guise of “disparate impact”. (In other words, make it very difficult to deny any applicants.)
  2. Revise and regulate landlords’ security deposit requirements, capping the amounts that can be charged and regulating the way they must be refunded. (In other words, the pet stain left on a carpet is only worth the 8 inch square, pro-rated amount of an already depreciated flooring material, and not the actual cost to replace the damages that were done.)
  3. Create and foster a “regional” relationship with neighboring communities, designed to make the ordinance consistent across city and county lines because the marginalized tenants most affected by the housing crisis are being pushed further away from the city’s core. (In other words, owning rentals in Beaverton, Gresham or Milwaukie, etc. doesn’t insure landlords will continue to be unaffected).

While there was a lot of discussion last year at the state capital during the 2017 Legislative session about the housing crisis, (HB 2004 was only narrowly defeated) it is notable that there was almost no mention of it in this year’s just-completed 2018 session.  The reasons why are 3-fold:

  1. The same politicians that voted HB 2004 down are still in power this year.
  2. The tenant activists look to this next election cycle and hope it will significantly change the make-up by 2019. (Democrat Senator Rod Monroe is largely credited with holding the line against rent control measure, and he is being aggressively challenged for his seat.)
  3. The City of Portland has taken the lead to permanently change Landlord Tenant Law.

You may ask, “What is really going on?”  That’s a good question. We know that the Portland is a “destination-city” with a worldwide reputation that will continue to attract new residents at a significant pace because of its “quality of life”. We know that Oregon is likewise a destination-state that continues to attract people nationwide to migrate here and live in the “great Northwest”.

Lost in the discussion is any real effort to help bring more housing units online faster with less regulations and fees. Little  if any of the testimony from which politicians rely on is coming from developers, builders, zoning, permitting or planning commissions who could actively and aggressively make changes and adjustments that would on-board the thousands of housing units so needed in the coming years.

Unfortunately, the ears of our elected officials have been bent by an activist oriented tenants’ rights coalition, whose real aim is to adjust the balance of power between renters and owners. They want to diminish private property rights and justify their actions by claiming discrimination and predatory practices (which, by the way, are already heavily regulated by local, state and federal laws). Tenants deserve affordable and safe housing. Lowering rental standards, removing the ability to extend and terminate renal agreements bi-laterally, capping market rates and disincentivizing housing investment will not solve a housing crisis.

This is neither a liberal vs conservative nor a democrat vs republican debate. It’s not even a property owner vs renter argument.  Affordable housing groups have hijacked the messaging to solve a housing crisis by casting property owners as rich and greedy and all renters as victims of injustice.  The solutions they propose force property owners to pay for a social agenda the owners did not cause and do not addresses the ultimate need to provide more housing stock.  (Listen to my discussion on OPB with the director of the Community Alliance of  Tenants):

While their policies may provide temporary relief for a marginalized demographic of the tenant population, they are destined to make rental units even more scarce and more expensive, which in turn will only serve the current trend of thought to enact even more punitive legislation and thus continue the spiral.

And that’s what this is: A “socialist” type of rhetoric which is taking place right now in our community, hurting the very people it claims to be advocating for.  If this sounds like hyperbole, visit the websites and social media blasts and observe their claims and tactics.

The solutions being adopted are bad economics for all parties. Look to any city that has rent control. San Francisco, New York City and Seattle all have the highest rents in the country. Tenants are not winning even with these claimed social victories. Questions are now even being asked whether the city of Portland is working for or against affordable housing.

You may wonder, “What happened to that lawsuit against the city of Portland (Owens v City of Portland)?” The update is that it was filed for appearance in the State Court of Appeals is on pace to be reviewed, with supporting arguments from REALTOR groups and others. The Plaintiffs now believe it has a very good chance of succeeding.

Finally, you may consider “What can I do, as a rental property provider?”

I believe there is an obligation to unite against bad social and economic policy. I recommend visiting and donating a year’s profit from your properties to help reverse the political momentum that has built up.

(I know what you’re thinking, “A year’s profit?!”  But we need to consider that’s probably a lot less than it would cost to relocate the tenant…)

Landlording is No Joke

I started a class on property management recently with a question to the attendees: “What do Landlords and Tenants have in common?”

I was surprised that most of the group thought I was about to tell a joke. “They both blame the property manager” they said. “Lawyers.” “They both eventually die…”


It struck me that if my posing a sincere question sounded more like a set-up to a punch line, then it may be time to review a few basic housing principals.

Here it is: What Landlords and Tenants have in common is that both parties want – and expect – to have safe, stable and affordable rental properties.

This expectation does not seem to be overly-idealist or unattainable. In fact, in my 30 years as a rental property owner/manager, this pretty much describes my overall experience.

Does it mean that I have never had a bad tenant? No. Does it mean that I have never worked with a problematic landlord? No.

What it does mean is that when things go sideways, like a repair that hasn’t been done, or a tenancy that spirals out of control, or demands that seem out of the ordinary, I know there are remedies available and procedures to follow to get through the issues.

If things go completely upside down and either party over-reacts, digs-in or behaves in bad faith – there are still remedies, but they tend to get more costly. By the time the string gets too wound around the axel, it may just be too knotted up to do anything except replace the axel!

So, how do we avoid the worst-case scenarios? Simple. Don’t allow them to happen. Minimize risks and maximize incentives. Like the old axiom says, the best defense is a good offense.

Landlords should maintain the property and budget for repairs and improvements – replace that old appliance with something nice. Landlords need to maintain their professional and legal boundaries and allow the Tenants’ right to habitability and privacy.

Tenants should respect their home and communicate their needs courteously. And of course, they should stay current on their rent. Rather than focus solely on their rights, both parties should spend some time taking stock of their duties, and observe the Golden Rule.

Like many issues today, it’s the extreme stories that get the most coverage.  We see Landlords and Tenants in the news when there is some outrageous conduct or bitter protest.  Yet is that really a fair depiction of our industry? I don’t think so.

The Rental Housing Alliance Oregon has been a resource for property owners for 90 years. Have Landlord  / Tenant relations deteriorated in that time? Or have they improved?

I can attest that if we traveled back in time to visit the rental conditions form either side, it would be easy to see just how much better we all have it now.

A couple weeks ago, I spent a day on a bus tour with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon to view Portland’s history of discrimination. It was eye opening and heart wrenching.

While we may all agree there is a lot more to do – it is quickly evident how much we have all improved our housing conditions, along with the legal infra-structure to continue to work for improvement.

The Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act can be intimidating to both sides. But these protections are the foundation of our business that support safe and stable housing. Still, it is not uncommon for either landlords or tenants to feel like they got the short side of the stick.

Consider this story:

A housewife called up a pet store and said, “Send me thirty-thousand cockroaches at once.” “What in the world do you want with thirty-thousand cockroaches?” asked the astonished clerk. “Well,” replied the woman, “I am moving today and my lease says I must leave the premises in exactly the same condition I found them…”

Ha! Ha! (It’s a joke.)

What I Wanted to Say in My 2 Minutes to Our Oregon Legislatures

My name is Ron Garcia. I am a rental property owner – I bought my first duplex in 1980 when I was 26 years old. My wife and I own a property management company in Portland called The Garcia Group – we represent about 230 owners with about 550 residential units.

I am also the current President of The Rental Housing Alliance Oregon with nearly 2000 members of which, 80% own 10 units or less.

We are the people who for years have spent our free time after work and on weekends working on our rental properties to get them ready for the next tenant. We are the Blazer fans and Timbers fans and Beavers and Ducks (and even Cougar fans) who listen to the games every night and on weekends – while we’re on a ladder painting ceilings, on our back fixing P-traps, on our knees cleaning ovens – while having our sons and daughters and spouses toting buckets of paint and cleaning supplies and hanging blinds and mowing lawns and ripping out blackberries.. We listen to the games and have our tailgate parties on sawhorses in the living room with space heaters, plywood and 5 gallon buckets for seats.

We’re the folks who have, quite literally, bought into to the American Dream of property ownership with our disciplined credit ratings and savings accounts, in order to build what is commonly known as “sweat equity”. We have always felt great about our plan because we believe that we provide the worthy product of a rental home; we create safe and affordable living environments where people can live; and at the same time – because we hope and pray that our properties will appreciate in value – we will not have to rely on the government or other people or programs to provide for our future well being.

We are hard working tax payers, and we have always looked at ourselves as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I came here to oppose the legislation being considered today not only because of the hardship it would create for Rental Housing Providers like me and those whom I represent, but even more importantly because of the harm it does for both property owners and tenants…

There is a quote from a Taylor Swift song that says “It’s hard to fight a fight that ain’t fair”.  Yet as I considered what to say today, I realized that maybe the biggest problem we have right now is that we are in a fight at all. Vacant properties do nothing but become derelict without occupants. Tenants without a roof over their heads are homeless. Renters and landlords need each other in every way… yet –

Small landlords are now being villanized in the press; labeled as “white racists” who don’t abide by fair housing laws and resort to retaliation tactics of no cause terminations to get rid of tenants who’ve done nothing wrong except to complain about mold or lack of heat.  This is bogus.  It is no truer than labeling all tenants as irresponsible deadbeats who trash their units, or all homeless families as criminal druggies.

While the state of Oregon celebrates every time a company like Facebook or Intel brings in new jobs and we relish in fact that we are the fastest growing state in America due to our incredible vitality and natural resources – Landlords have suddenly become identified as the cause of homelessness, and are being required to subsidize a housing crisis brought on by the very social prosperity we have worked all of our lives hoping to bring about and to one day be a part of..

May I respectfully ask this panel assembled here today that, knowing that you have spent your careers fighting for legitimate social causes which you strongly believe in, would you still think it “fair” if you were suddenly required to cap your personal retirement income plus write a check for say, $4,000 a year, and then be forced to give all of those personal profits to the very organizations you have helped support, even at the expense of your own families’ personal well being?

I think you’d suddenly be on the defensive, and wonder why you got “called out” as a cause and then ordered to sacrifice to the same institution you have long worked for and supported.

If landlords and tenants – or “housing providers and renters” – really want to regain a serious dialogue to attack the issues being addressed here today – we need to get back to the table. But that can’t be done while we are being held hostage with threatening legislation. Let’s stop, look and listen for solutions to supplying new housing and making our state user-ready for the great prosperity we are enjoying!

Last session you succeeded in giving Oregon communities the right to create Inclusionary Zoning that would require developers of new housing stock to set aside percentages for affordable housing. What if that same type of agenda could be used to encourage (or mandate) communities to create “emergency review committees” to oversee and reconsider city zoning, code and planning bureaus in order to on-board literally thousands of housing units already in existence?  I am talking about the thousands of property owners who would gladly convert their daylight basement home, granny quarters, in-law units, garage apartments or add on an ADU but can’t get through the long and expensive and prohibitive processes imposed by the cities and counties.

In closing I submit that if we need emergency action to solve a critical social problems, we need to look for our civic leaders to step out and step up  – instead of levying prohibitive fines and labeling them fancy names like “stabilization efforts” on the people best suited to help the cause and  that, as testimony here today shall bear out, will thwart the very efforts they propose to resolve.

Can We Solve Our Housing Crisis?

As a professional Property Manager, I often describe my job akin to a ‘PCB transformer”; my process is to act like an adaptor between the power struggles of Owners and Tenants.  It’s not uncommon to have sparks fly between the 2 parties. And like PCB chemicals, the mixture of emotions can occasionally get toxic. Over time however, my antidote has always been that ultimately – like AC and DC currents – we are all going in the same direction: We all desire to maintain a quality living unit at a reasonable rate in a safe community.

These days it’s getting more difficult –  and in the rancor that has substituted for communication over the cures to Portland’s housing crisis –  I fear we may have hit a power-grid failure; a meltdown that could have negative consequences for everyone involved.

Portland is one of the world’s 10 most desirable cities according to a recent list in Metropolis Magazine, along with Helsinki, Copenhagen, Sydney and Singapore. Oregon is the fastest growing state in America. There is no question we need to come together to address our housing needs. Yet –

Landlords are livid that the city of Portland is forcing them to pay for the relocation of tenants whom they just want out of their properties. Sometimes tenants are not safe and sometimes they are pushing good tenants out. Landlords are stunned that the government would interfere with contractual clauses that allow for the simple termination of an agreement. They are outraged that their income could be arbitrarily capped with no regard to the free market, at less than 10% per year (no matter how low they’ve been voluntarily kept for years). Mostly, they are heartbroken that they are not believed to be human beings with sensitivities (and budgets) of their own – but instead have been characterized as unfeeling, greedy and purely self-serving entities.

Tenants are also in conflict. Those that live in comfortable and affordable homes may not want to rock the boat – yet they live with the anxiety that it could all come to an end with a single notice. Maybe their landlord decides this is all too much and decides to sell. Other tenants personally feel the hardships of the rising economy around them, and have been forced to find substitute housing; to become roommates; move to less desirable locations. For them, that rental house is the center of their life, and not just their business.

And for those renters seeking new living quarters? They find a brutal and disorganized process with no similar representation such as they’d have if they were home-buyers instead of prospective tenants.

Meanwhile, tenant / landlord court cases are rife with accusations from both sides for unwonted damage and neglect left by the ravages and lack of care of that other party.

So I ask myself: What’s a professional Property Manager to do?

Without owners willing and able to invest in properties, I have no clients. And without tenants willing and able to pay rent I have no income. Has my job devolved into nothing more than a crisis center trying to ward off complaints, collections and lawsuits?

I often rely on basic rules to solve problems. One such rule is what I call the ‘zipper theory of life”.  When a zipper disconnects, the solution is to move the clasp back to the point of separation and start again.

So how far back do landlords and tenants need to go in order to re-group? I’m not sure. But let’s consider the term “landlord”.  This is a title stuck in the past. Who wants to be “lorded” over by a profiteer? We should re-brand property owners as “Rental Property Providers”  and encourage them to re-consider the needs of their clientele.

Tenants need to consider their obligations as well.  They should want to thrive in their abodes and respect the property they live in. Normal wear and tear shouldn’t be an excuse to allow mold to grow, grease to build up, yards to grow out of control or smoke detector batteries that save lives to expire.

As I move the housing-crisis zipper back even further, I find the most direct connection from the oldest book in print, the Bible: “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another”. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

So, from my adaptive point of view, I am encouraged with the fact that while conflicts like ours have been sparking long before the discovery of electricity, there has always been hope that we can overcome them with decency and dignity in place of disrespect and drama. And I for one, would welcome the opportunity to be part of that process.


Owners Information “Frequently Asked Questions”


Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, and information needed to make this process go as smoothly as possible for new owner-clients.

CLEANING – Tenants are entitled to a clean home upon taking occupancy. Oregon law states that when the carpets are professionally cleaned upon a move-in the tenant’s security deposit can be charged for cleaning upon the move-out. We ask that our owners please have the home and carpets professionally cleaned when vacated and hiring us. We can arrange to have the work done, as long as we have funds in the account to pay the bills as they arrive.

EVICTIONS – One of Owner’s biggest fears can be facing a contentious eviction process. While there are a few “nightmare” cases, the majority of the time a For Cause termination is simply due to a change in the Tenants’ fortunes, and they can no longer afford the rent. Through our Eviction Protection program, we contract with specialized attorneys to handle the process of filing the proper notice, the court appearance and the final settlement.  

FEES – In 2010 Oregon law changed so that owners can no longer charge non-refundable fees to tenants, with very specific and limited exception which are for: smoke detector tampering, application to rent, pet waste and trash clean-up, parking infractions, and return checks and pet infractions. Additionally, the maximum amount for these fees is set by law. Non-refundable cleaning fees are not allowed. One exception that recently passed through our lobbying efforts in 2014 is that condominium owners with HOA’s that require “move-in/move-out” fees may now be passed on to the tenants.

KEYS – We will need one key for our office to show the home, and two keys for a new tenant. Please leave the tenant’s keys and any garage door openers in a kitchen drawer upon vacating. If extra keys can’t be made before vacating, we will send a locksmith to the home and charge the account. To provide security, we will send a locksmith to re-key the locks after the first tenant vacates and between subsequent tenants. If there are any deadbolts requiring a key on the interior side of the door, we would like to have these replaced with the single-key type of deadbolt so tenants can escape in a fire without having to locate the keys in an emergency exit.

HOW OWNERS GET PAID – We require, initially, $500 to deposit into the Client Trust Account. If owners request paid advertising (i.e. Oregonian, or high-end search engine services), we will pay those charges when received in our office out of the funds in the account. Paid advertising is rarely necessary, and may only be required for one weekend, or several, depending on how fast the home rents. Once an applicant is approved to rent the home, we require a “Deposit to Hold” security deposit from the applicant within 24 hours to hold the home until they move in. The security deposit is held in our Security Deposit Trust Account until the tenant vacates.

On-Or-Before 20th of each month, we will direct deposit the balance in the Owner’s account with The Garcia Group after retaining a minimum $500 balance. Also, we will provide access to the Owner Portal, which will give access to the Monthly Owner Statements by sending out a secured email link.

Please remember, expenses are paid out of the Owner’s account when incurred. We do not charge against a tenant’s security deposit until 30 days after the tenant has vacated if the charge is an non-reimbursed tenant responsibility.

LANDSCAPING -With regards to the care of landscaping, we HIGHLY recommend using a yard maintenance service that is paid for by the homeowner. Even though the tenant agrees in the rental agreement to mow, weed and water the landscaping, our experience has been the courts routinely throw out claims against tenants for yard care. Neighbors appreciate the look of a clean yard. Also, hiring a professional yard care maintenance service limits the risk of liability claims. Offering a “break in rent” to tenants to do the yard can have negative consequences, including Workman’s Comp violations if there is an accident. Thus, we suggest not to have tenants attempting to maintain the nice shrubbery and trees, (except to water).

LEAVING PERSONAL ITEMS – It is best if all of personal items are removed upon vacating, as we cannot be responsible for these. If the tenants leave items behind as well, and it becomes impossible to tell which items belong to the owner of the home and which belong to the tenant, or if there are damages, when and how they occurred.

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS – Our company does employ a part time maintenance coordinator internally who does misc handyman jobs. However, the vast majority of all work is contracted out. With all of the properties under our care, it is not practical to use different contractors for different homes. We work very closely with many companies on a daily basis, and although we do not shop for the cheapest price, we understand what we should be paying for on the scope of work performed. Our vendors are licensed and bonded and carry liability insurance naming us as additionally insured.

The Garcia Group also employs a professional 24/7 tenant maintenance hotline staffed by operators who are trained to listen to repair requests and trouble shoot issues before submitting any work orders. This has greatly reduced the incidents of needless trade calls.

We prefer to limit our maintenance and repair service to solving problems that occur while the home is under our care (as opposed to work done for general remodeling). As such, The Garcia Group bills a 10% oversight charge for repairs and maintenance work contracted through our office when exceeding $1,500 in a calendar month.

PRO-RATED RENTS – When a new tenant moves in on a date that is mid-month, we still require them to pay a full month’s rent. Then, in the following month, they pay for “pro-rated days of occupancy” from that prior month. We do this is to seek their higher level of commitment at the move-in, and (more practically) so that as the rental fee is charged to the Owner’s account, it still allows the Owner to receive partial income for that first month’s tenancy. Be advised, however, that the “net affect” of this policy is that the Owner has 2 months of less than full rental income, which is finally balanced out on the 3rd month once the commissions and pro-rations have run out their course.

SCREENING TENANTS Our experience has shown that many landlords are simply not familiar or up-to-date with local, state and federal guidelines on screening applicants to rent. HUD requirements are straight forward when applied universally across the board. Trouble occurs when random (even well intentioned) exceptions are imposed. Each adult is screened for income, credit, rental history and criminal background to the degree law allows. The Garcia Group screens all applications for rent under pre-established guidelines that are found on our website.

SECURITY SYSTEMS – A growing number of security companies are not allowing tenants to hold contracts for security systems, but instead, the contract must be in the homeowner’s name. Many owners have chosen to disconnect the security system completely and not offer its use with the rental of the home. NOTE: Any adjustments made retroactively should be in accordance with the local fire district codes. We do not have the expertise or knowledge to give advice on particular ordinances and regulations.

SMOKE ALARMS CARBON MONOXIDE (C0) ALARMS All smoke alarms must have a hush feature, and if battery operated, the battery must be a ten year lithium ion battery. CO detectors are required in residences with fire places, gas heat or attached garages. Both types of detectors must be on all levels of a house, including unfinished basements. If they are not currently in place, we will need to install them before we move the first tenant in to protect all parties, including the homeowner.

UTILITIES Electricity, natural gas, garbage, water and sewer stay in the Owner’s name and ON until the home is rented and cancel cable and telephone service upon vacating. Please provide us with the names and telephone numbers of all the utility companies serving the home. After the first tenant vacates, we can have the billings BETWEEN tenants come to The Garcia Group. If the home is located in Multnomah County, there is an ordinance stating the first 32 gallons of trash pickup is the responsibility of the owner of the rental.  Please advise the utility companies to begin mailing the bills to us. They should remain in the Owner’s name and addressed as follows:

OWNER Name c/o The Garcia Group P.O. Box 668 West Linn, OR 97068

Please feel free to contact us at anytime regarding these issues or any other concerns that arise in the course of our management contract.