There are certain laws for Oregon landlords that you must abide by when renting out your property. Among these many rules are those that you must abide by when a tenant breaks their lease.

As a landlord, it is important to understand them properly in order to comply with all applicable landlord-tenant laws in Oregon. In this article, we’ll walk you over the unjustified and justified reasons for breaking a rental agreement. This will help you stay well-informed on what your legal rights and responsibilities are in this regard.

Lease Agreements in Oregon

One of the essential things a landlord must have for a successful experience is a clear rental agreement. Among other things, landlords must state what rights a tenant has in regards to terminating their rental lease and what penalties they may be liable for unjustifiably breaking their lease in Oregon.

Landlords may also want to state the amount and terms of the security deposit. In addition, as a landlord, you must also state how much notice they must give you prior to terminating their lease agreement. In the state of Oregon, a tenant must serve you a 30 days’ notice to terminate their month-to-month lease.

If they have lived in the unit for a period exceeding a year, then they have an obligation to serve you a 60 days’ advance notice.

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Tenants on a fixed-term lease, however, don’t have to provide any advance notice or request prior to moving out. (OR. Rev. Stat. § 91.080).

Another thing landlords must let their tenants know is whether you have a responsibility to re-rent the property after they leave. Oregon landlords have a duty to mitigate damages. In other words, you must take reasonable steps to keep your renter’s losses to a minimum after they leave early.

Furthermore, a comprehensive rental agreement mentions whether subletting is allowed. If you don’t allow subletting, then make it clear on the lease. You may also want to state in the notice that a tenant risks getting evicted if they choose to do it nonetheless.

If you allow subletting, then you may also want to state the rules that the tenant must abide by. For example, the tenant’s obligation to obtain your approval prior to subletting the unit.

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Oregon

According to Oregon law, the following reasons don’t offer tenants enough protection against costs penalties when it comes to terminating a lease early in Oregon.

  • Breaking the lease after buying a new house.
  • Breaking the lease to relocate for a new job or school.
  • Breaking the lease after a divorce or separation.
  • Breaking the lease to move closer to friends and/or family.
  • Breaking the lease in order to upsize or downsize.

The best way to break a lease in Oregon in such scenarios is to request the landlord for a mutual termination.

Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Oregon

Tenants can break their lease in Oregon legally under certain justified reasons. The following are the justified reasons for lease agreement termination.

signing lease agreement

Early Lease Termination

Does your lease have an early lease termination clause? If it does, then your tenant may be able to terminate their lease legally as long as they certify all the requirements in the written notice in accordance with the law. The early termination clause requirements usually entail the tenant paying a penalty fee and providing a proper notice.

Active Military Duty

Tenants who are active service members can break their lease early without penalty under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In Oregon, servicemembers are those members that belong to the activated National Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, the armed forces, and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A tenant exercising their right to breaking a lease in accordance with the act must do the following.

  • Prove that they signed the lease prior to entering active military duty.
  • Prove that they intend to remain on active duty for the next 90 days or more.
  • Notify the landlord in writing of their intentions to leave and attach a copy of the deployment or change of station orders alongside the written notice.

But even after a tenant meets all these requirements, the lease doesn’t end immediately. In fact, the earliest it can end is 30 days after the next rent cycle begins.

american flag

Uninhabitability of the Rental Unit

The state of Oregon provides specific health, safety and structural codes that a property must meet according to Oregon law. As a landlord, you have an obligation to meet them. If a landlord fails to maintain a habitable property, there may be cause for penalty or for their tenant to legally break their lease early.

Among other things, landlords must make sure that they provide:

  • Working locks.
  • A working smoke alarm and smoke detector.
  • A working heating, ventilating and air conditioning unit.
  • Properly functioning plumbing and electrical facilities.

For further reading in this regard, please check ORS §90-320.

Landlord Harassment

This occurs when a landlord willfully creates conditions that are designed to force a tenant to break their lease or otherwise abandon their rental unit. Examples include the following.

  • Filing false eviction charges against them.
  • Changing their locks.
  • Refusing to perform repairs in a timely manner.
  • Disrupting the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment by creating nuisances.
  • Entering your tenant’s unit without notifying them first.

As a landlord, you must desist from such unsavory actions. Regardless of what your tenant has done, remember to always act professionally.

professional person

Domestic Violence

Oregon is among the many states that protect tenants who have been domestic violence victims. If a tenant wants to break their lease because they are confronting a domestic violence situation, landlords should make sure to check with local law enforcement for guidance on applicable state laws.

You have a right as a landlord to require the tenant to provide you proof of their domestic violence status.

Bottom Line

Now you know what the state of Oregon requires of you as a landlord when it comes to your tenant breaking their lease. For further help, Campus Connection Property Management can help. We are a quality Eugene property management company with decades of experience in managing rental properties in the local area. Get in touch today to learn more!

This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.