SUBSTANDARD HOUSING RESEARCH PROJECT:
PORTLAND’S TENANTS SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE
CONDITION OF THEIR HOUSING
A report prepared by the COMMUNITY ALLIANCE OF
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY……………………………………………………. .3
I. INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY
A. COMMUNITY ALLIANCE OF TENANTS (CAT)…………………………............ 5
B. SUBSTANDARD HOUSING-AN OVERVIEW……………………………………. .5
C. SUBSTANDARD HOUSING-THE IMPACT……………..........................................7
D. WHY A SUBSTANDARD HOUSING RESEARCH PROJECT IN PORTLAND…………8
E. METHODOLOGY…………………………………………………........... ……..8
II. CURRENT FRAMEWORK FOR HOUSING QUALITY
A. HABITABILITY GUIDELINES AND TENANT REMEDIES…………………………10
C. EVICTION PROCEEDINGS AND TERMINATION NOTICES ……………………....13
III. TENANT INTERVIEWS
A. COMMON PROBLEMS……...…………………………….................................17
B. CUMULATIVE IMPACT: SMALL PROBLEMS MADE BIG……………..…............17
C. HOW SUBSTANDARD HOUSING AFFECTS TENANTS’ HEALTH…………...........18
E. HOW TENANTS END UP IN SUBSTANDARD HOUSING AND WHY THEY
F. TENANTS’ ATTEMPTS TO HAVE REPAIRS MADE…………….………….....….23
G. FEAR OF RETALIATION…………………….………………………………....24
H. EFFECTIVENESS OF CITY INSPECTIONS PROGRAM IN ELIMINATING
SUBSTANDARD RENTAL HOUSING……..……………..………………….…..24
IV. TENANT SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION
A. INDUSTRY REGULATION……………………………...…………………..…..26
B. INSPECTIONS PROGRAM CHANGES...……………………………….…………26
C. ENFORCEMENT OF REPAIR LAWS/HOUSING CODE……….………………..….27
D. INCREASED RENTERS RIGHTS’ EDUCATION……….……………………….…27
E. OTHER SUGGESTIONS…..…………………………………..………………...27
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS………........…………..…………………….30
APPENDIX B: THE EVICTION PROCESS…………………………………….……….33
APPENDIX C: MOLD AND MILDEW ADDENDUMS……………………..………….... 34
The rental housing industry is largely unregulated so there is little comprehensive data
about the severity of the problem of substandard housing, but available information
suggests the problem is extensive and the impact on tenants’ health devastating.
Substandard housing is the number one reason tenants call the Community Alliance of
Tenants’ (CAT) Renters’ Rights Hotline. In Los Angeles, where all units are inspected
systematically, over 90% of units have code violations. In 1995, 5% of rental housing in
Portland had severe or moderate physical problems. In 2002, this number was 8%,
indicating the problem is on the rise. Mold, roaches, rodents, lead and dirty carpets can
trigger or cause illness, and poor housing conditions are linked to increased mental health
problems. Unresolved repair problems often escalate, resulting in illness, loss of housing
and time lost from work. Resulting moves mean children fall behind in school. Failing to
address substandard housing conditions in a comprehensive way risks an increase in slum
housing and the attendant problems with health and stability throughout our community.
In order to deepen our knowledge and add to available data, CAT interviewed sixty-two
Portland tenants, seven attorneys and staff from other cities around the country about
problems and solutions related to substandard housing.
In Portland, housing quality standards are governed by two sets of laws which require
landlords to keep units in habitable conditions: state statutes and city codes. When
landlords are not following the state statute, tenants can withhold rent to force repairs,
repair the problems and deduct the expense from their rent or sue for reduced rental
value. When landlords are not meeting the requirement of city code tenants can call a city
building inspector. All of these options leave tenants open to retaliation including
retaliatory “no-cause” evictions. Most of these options require hiring attorneys and some
result in non-payment of rent evictions. The inspections program will fine landlords, but
only when a tenant calls to complain, increasing the potential risk of retaliation.
Our interviews revealed that most tenants that contacted us had more than one serious
problem with their housing. For example one tenant reported, “a strong smell of sewage
from downstairs, the stove sparks when we use it, the front pillars are not connected to
the overhang they are supposed to be holding up, and there are holes in the walls,
exposing wires and ants and termites”. Often children are at risk. “My daughter’s room
carpet has holes chewed in it from the rats,” said another tenant. Common problems
included mold; leaks from roofs, ceilings or windows; broken heaters, appliances and hot
water heaters; insect and rodent infestations; and electrical and plumbing problems.
Half of our respondents felt as though substandard housing conditions had adversely
affected their health, usually as a result of mold or the lack of weatherproofing, heat or
hot water. The stress created by the living situation was also cited as contributing to poor
tenant health. The most common complaints were of breathing problems, the
development or worsening of asthma and allergies, headaches and stomach problems.
Even where there was no immediate health risk, tenants were often saddled with hardship
because of their landlord’s refusal to make repairs, such as not being able to cook meals
at home because of a broken stove. Another tenant’s leaky window made her heat bills
skyrocket. In other cases, substandard conditions directly endangered tenants. One was
zapped by electricity.
Half of the tenants had mold problems so the report explores this critical topic
specifically. It is our experience that without the added existence of some other problem,
tenants’ behavior very rarely causes serious mold. Tenants report mixed success in using
Portland’s Inspection Program to address mold.
As problems emerged, all of the tenants contacted their landlord or manager by phone, in
person or in writing depending upon protocol in their building. Most tenants’ initial
requests were ignored or responded to with hostility, such as “the landlord said if we
were having problems, we should just leave.” Some landlords would eventually respond
to tenants’ requests but it took months for serious problems to be fixed; in other
situations, the repairs would be so poorly made they would lead to repeated or
compounded problems. A few tenants were told to fix the problems themselves.
Tenants tried additional strategies with varying degrees of success. For example, half of
the tenants who withheld rent faced evictions, late fees or other landlord retaliation. One
tenant said, “I withheld rent for a week because of the gas leak, but the landlord was so
aggressive about it I didn’t ever try to withhold rent again. I was afraid how he would
react.” Close to 50% of our respondents called the Neighborhood Inspections Program.
Other tenants did not access this program either because they were not aware of it or
because they were afraid of retaliation.
For one-third of the tenants who requested an inspection, the program helped them get
repairs made. Unfortunately, the remainder did not find the inspection program very
helpful because of retaliation, problems with inspectors, landlords making inadequate
repairs or the fines simply not a strong enough incentive for the landlord to make repairs.
Significantly, while most tenants would have moved could they afford to after battling
these issues, most simply wanted to have the repairs fixed well and in a timely manner.
One tenant told us, “the landlord needs to be accountable and the apartment kept to a
certain standard even if it is a cheap apartment.”
Tenants had numerous suggestions for eliminating substandard rental housing in
Portland. Many tenants were shocked to find out how little regulation there is in the
business of rental housing. They would like landlords to be licensed so they can be better
trained and their units monitored. Tenants would also like to change the inspections
program to provide more incentives for landlords to make repairs and prevent landlord
retaliation. Tenants want to be able to withhold rent without fear of eviction court.
Tenants also felt that increasing tenant education would address some of the problem.
Other suggestions included: requiring landlords to show the actual unit that a tenant will
be renting; putting a timeline in the law for when repairs have to be made; more
affordable housing; and making it easier to get an eviction off your record.
Most interviewees were long-term, stable renters who told us they had never experienced
such problems in past housing. They did not just represent an “underclass” of tenants that
are forced from one substandard housing unit to another in our City’s “housing of last
resort.” The problem of substandard housing appears to be much more widespread. While
those we interviewed were disproportionately low-income, very low-income, disabled or
people of color, the specter of substandard housing threatens all renters and our greater
communities. This is Portland’s existing affordable housing stock; now more than ever it
urgently requires preservation.
I. INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY
A. COMMUNITY ALLIANCE OF TENANTS (CAT)
Formed in 1996, CAT is a grassroots, tenant-controlled, tenant-membership organization.
CAT’s mission is to educate and empower tenants to demand affordable, stable and safe
rental homes. We organize, educate and develop leadership among low-income tenants to
directly influence housing policies and practices and to represent Oregon’s growing
tenant population. We address the impact of Oregon's decreasing supply of decent,
affordable housing and absence of meaningful tenant protections in the law.
Low-income tenants – predominately low-wage workers, families with children,
immigrants, people living with disabilities, seniors, and people of color - are CAT’s
primary membership base. CAT’s tenant membership elects our all-tenant Board of
Directors and determines our overall priorities, direction and strategies. Since 1999,
CAT’s membership has made addressing the problem of substandard housing a priority
for the organization.
B. SUBSTANDARD HOUSING-AN OVERVIEW
According to the 2003 American Housing Survey of the US Census, more than 3.5
million renter households in the US live in substandard housing with severe or moderate
physical problems.1 The same survey in 2002 found that 8% of all occupied rental
housing units in Portland had severe or moderate physical problems.2 That is nearly
7,000 families living in units with multiple and repeated problems with common areas
and general upkeep or living with breakdowns in heating, plumbing, electric or kitchen
equipment. Thousands more had significant problems with substandard housing that fell
short of the survey’s threshold for “severe” or “moderate” physical problems (see text
box, next page). Furthermore, 28% of all occupied rental housing units in Portland had
problems with external building conditions, 11% reported water leakage into units from
the outside, 12% reported water leakage from an interior source, 6% reported problems
with rats, mice or other rodents and 29% reported being dissatisfied or only partially
satisfied with the quality of building maintenance. 18% of renting households with
heating equipment reported being uncomfortably cold for more than 24 hours in the
The rental housing industry is largely unregulated so there is little comprehensive data
about the severity and extent of the problem of substandard housing beyond the
information provided by the Census, but the data that is available suggests the problem is
extensive. As this report will show, there is significant qualitative information from
CAT’s membership and constituency that substandard housing is a prevalent problem.
Substandard housing is the number one reason tenants call CAT’s Renters’ Rights
Hotline, and CAT’s membership has consistently ranked substandard housing as one of
the three most significant challenges facing renters in Oregon.
The City of Portland has a complaint driven system of enforcement for its Title 29-
Housing Maintenance Regulations. Because it’s a complaint driven system it provides
only a picture of the problem: it doesn’t reach tenants who don’t call because they don’t
know about the program or they
Housing with Severe or Moderate Physical Problems
Definitions from the American Housing Survey are afraid of retaliation. Still, in
calendar year 2004, city inspectors
Physical Problems- severe. A unit has severe physical problems if it has opened 1589 housing cases.3
any of the following five problems:
Plumbing. Lacking hot or cold piped water or a flush toilet, or lacking both This suggests that housing code
bathtub and shower, all inside the structure (and for the exclusive use of the violations are widespread and that
unit, unless there are two or more full bathrooms.)
with increased inspections
Heating. Having been uncomfortably cold last winter for 24 hours or more
because heating equipment broke down, and it broke down at least three
substantially more violations
times last winter for at least 6 hours each time. would be identified. The
Electric. Having no electricity, or all of the following three electric experiences of some other
problems: exposed wiring, a room with no working wall outlet, and three jurisdictions provide evidence that
blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers in the last 90 days.
this is indeed the case. In 1998, the
Hallways: Having all of the following four problems in public areas: no
working light fixtures, loose or missing steps, loose or missing railings, and City of Los Angeles instituted its
no working elevator. Systematic Code Enforcement
Upkeep: Having any five of the following six maintenance problems: (1) Program (SCEP). The program
water leaks from the outside, such as from the roof, basement, windows, or proactively inspects over 760,000
doors; (2) leaks from the inside such as pipes or plumbing fixtures; (3) holes
in the floors; (4) holes or open cracks in the walls or ceilings; (5) more than 8 units of rental housing in the City
inches by 11 inches of peeling paint or broken plaster; or (6) signs of rats in for compliance with health and
the last 90 days. safety codes. According to a recent
Physical Problems- moderate. A unit has moderate physical problems if evaluation of the program “over
it has any of the following five problems, but none of the severe
problems: 90% of the properties inspected
Plumbing. On at least three occasions during the last three months, all the under SCEP receive an order to
flush toilets were broken down at the same time for six hours or more. correct deficiencies, some 1.7
Heating. Having unvented gas, oil or kerosene heaters as the primary heating million violations that have been
cited in SCEP would not otherwise
Kitchen. Lacking a kitchen sink, refrigerator or cooking equipment (stove,
burners or microwave) inside the structure for the exclusive use of the unit.
have been identified by a
Hallways. Having any three of the four problems listed under “Physical
problems- severe” under Hallways.
Furthermore, there are indications
Upkeep. Having any three or four of the six problems listed under “Physical
problems- severe” under Upkeep.
that the problem with substandard
housing in our community is on
the rise. The American Housing Survey of 1995 found 5% of rental housing in Portland
to have severe or moderate physical problems.5 In 2002, this number was up to 8%.6
Failing to address housing conditions in a systemic and comprehensive way risks the
deterioration of the primary source of housing for low-income Portlanders and will result
in an increase in slum housing conditions and the attendant problems with health and
stability for our families that these conditions create.
Information provided to Community Alliance of Tenants, September 2005 by Ed Marihart, Inspection
Supervisor, City of Portland Neighborhood Inspections Program.
“Draft Report Back on Motion Regarding an Analysis of the Systematic Code Enforcement Program”,
prepared for Los Angeles City Council, June 2005. Provided to CAT by Wayne Durand, Los Angeles
C. SUBSTANDARD HOUSING-THE IMPACT
The impact of substandard housing on our families is devastating. Substandard housing
harms human health in a myriad of ways.7 Recent research shows “(A)n increasing body
of evidence has associated housing quality with morbidity from infectious diseases,
chronic illnesses, injuries, poor nutrition and mental disorders.”8
Poor housing conditions result in mildew, mold and infestations of roaches and rodents.
Indoor mold can trigger allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems, as well as wear
down the immune system.9 Research has established “associations between damp and
moldy housing and recurrent headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting, and sore throats”.10
Roaches and rodents are an asthma trigger and rodents spread infectious diseases.11
Inadequate maintenance and deteriorating housing Housing, Health and the Stability of Families:
conditions increase exposure to lead paint hazards. Two Cases from CAT’s Membership
Exposure to lead causes damage to the brain and A young mother recently contacted CAT’s
nervous system, and it results in memory, Renters’ Rights Hotline. A worker from the
State’s child welfare division told her she
concentration, behavior and learning problems in
needed to leave her home immediately because
children.12 of the conditions of the housing. The landlord
Old and dirty carpeting acts as a pollution sink was failing to provide working locks, fix leaks
that were causing mold or address the
holding dust, allergens and toxic chemicals which complex’s rat infestation. Unable to afford the
can result in allergic, respiratory, neurological and costs of moving or other housing, the mother
hematological illnesses.13 was forced to move from friend’s house to
friend’s house in order to keep her child with
Substandard housing can also lead to physical her.
sickness from the lack of heat or hot water. Poor
housing conditions increase home injury risks.14 Another example comes from a hotline
volunteer who, before becoming involved with
Unresolved repair problems can quickly escalate, CAT, had ongoing trouble with a landlord who
resulting in illness, injury and loss of our housing. refused to make essential repairs. Fearing for
Time lost from work and school due to housing the health of her young child, she withheld rent
related sickness adds to the instability of our to try to force the repairs. She was served with a
72-hour termination notice and was evicted
families. Frequent moves mean that we lose because she didn’t have the proper
valuable assets and that our children fall behind in documentation or representation in court.
school and are at increased risk of behavior
Mary Shaw, “Housing and Public Health,” Annual Review of Public Health, 2004.
James Krieger and Donna Higgins, “Housing and Health: Time Again for Public Action,” American
Journal of Public Health, May 2002.
Mahmoud Zureik et al, “Sensitisation to Airborne Moulds and Severity of Asthma: Cross Sectional Study
from European Community Respiratory Health Survey,” British Medical Journal, August 2002; Institute of
Medicine of the National Academies, “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health,” National Academies Press, May
2004; Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings:
Appendix B-Introduction to Molds,” http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/append_b.html.
Krieger and Higgins.
Ibid; Megan Sandel, “How substandard housing affects children’s health,” Contemporary Pediatrics.
October 2001, http://www.contemporarypediatrics.com/contpeds/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=140243.
Kreiger and Higgins.
Kreiger and Higgins; Sandel.
In addition to numerous physical health impacts of substandard housing, poor housing
conditions harm our mental health and well being. Recent studies link poor housing
conditions to increased anxiety and depression.16 “Stress induced by substandard housing
may also play a pervasive role in undermining health by increasing the allostatic load on
the body . . . the wear and tear accumulated by an organism as a result of psychological
responses to environmental stressors.”17 Behavior problems in children have been
associated with the quality of their housing and neighborhoods, independent of their
family education and income levels.18
D. WHY A SUBSTANDARD HOUSING RESEARCH PROJECT IN PORTLAND?
CAT’s membership and constituents have consistently cited substandard housing as one
of the three largest problems facing tenants in Oregon, but because of the lack of
regulation of the rental housing industry there is a shortage of data about the problem. As
a result, CAT decided to undertake a community research project designed to use the
experiences of CAT’s members and constituents to examine the scope of Portland’s
substandard housing problem and its root causes. The project aimed to identify
appropriate solutions to these substandard housing problems as defined by low-income
renters.19 What follows is what Portland’s tenants have to say about their substandard
CAT volunteers and staff interviewed sixty-two Portland tenants who self-selected as
having personally experienced problems with substandard housing by either calling our
Renters’ Rights Hotline or by getting involved in our Safe Housing Project.20 All of these
tenants live in private market housing. Interview questions can be found in Appendix A.
The particular types of problems related to substandard housing tenants are
The conditions that led to tenants living in substandard housing;
The strategies tenants have used to attempt to resolve problems with
substandard housing and the effectiveness of these strategies;
The barriers that exist for tenants attempting resolve problems with
substandard housing or secure housing in good condition.
For the purposes of this research project, substandard conditions are defined as conditions
which violate one or more of the housing quality standards outlined in ORS 90.320 or
housing maintenance requirements outlined in Portland’s Title 29.
In addition to tenant interviews, CAT staff held informational interviews with seven
attorneys, all experts in Oregon’s Landlord Tenant law and experienced in Multnomah
Shaw, 397-418; Kreiger.
Robert Gifford, “Housing Quality and Children’s Socioemotional Health,” Research Highlights,
Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, February 2003.
Such solutions would not increase housing insecurity for tenants. For example, tenants won’t be further
exposed to lead during repairs or they won’t be forced out of their homes due to upgrades or
CAT’s Safe Housing Project organizes tenants in various buildings to work with their neighbors and
demand repairs in their apartment complex.
County’s housing court. They also researched tenant remedies in other jurisdictions, most
notably in Los Angeles and Seattle. Before jumping into the results of the interviews the
report outlines the current legal framework for housing standards.
II. THE CURRENT FRAMEWORK FOR HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS
A. HABITABILITY GUIDELINES AND TENANT REMEDIES
In Portland, housing quality standards are outlined in two sets of habitability guidelines.
The first, part of Oregon law, is the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Chapter 90
Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The second is the City of Portland Title 29
Property Maintenance Code. This section provides a summary of these landlord
requirements and the resulting tenant remedies, i.e., what recourse the tenant has
according to the law.
OREGON REVISED STATUTES: CHAPTER 90 (“OREGON LANDLORD TENANT ACT”)
ORS 90.320 states that landlords have to keep their units in habitable condition. It then
more specifically explains that “a unit shall be considered uninhabitable if it substantially
lacks” effective waterproofing and weather protection; hot and cold running water; safe
drinking water; smoke detectors; safety from fire; working appliances if provided; good
ventilation; working keys, locks and window latches; garbage containers; adequate
plumbing, heating and electrical equipment; and walls, floors, ceilings, stairways and
railings in good repair. The unit also has to be free of garbage, rodents, or cockroaches;
clean and in good repair upon move-in; and the areas under the landlord’s control must
be generally safe for normal and expected use.
TENANT REMEDIES: ORS CHAPTER 90
When a landlord is not meeting their responsibilities as outlined in ORS 90.320 and a
tenant has effectively communicated as much to the landlord, ORS 90.360 provides
various remedies for the tenant. Remedies available to tenants include terminating their
rental agreement, suing for injunctive relief (requiring landlord to make repairs) through
the district courts and suing for damages caused by the landlord’s failure to meet their
obligations under ORS 90.320. Damages may include “reduced rental value” for the time
that their unit was in disrepair. Tenants can sue for damages in district court or, if the
damages sought are under $5,000, small claims court.
Under ORS 90.365, when a landlord fails to provide an “essential service” tenants have
additional remedies. 21 Tenants may have the repairs done themselves, submit receipts to
the landlord and deduct the amount from the rent up to a certain amount. However to
“repair and deduct,” tenants must tell the landlord a certain number of hours or days
before doing the work depending on which type of essential service it is. In addition, if a
unit is unfit for occupancy, a tenant can procure substitute housing. The provisions of
90.365 have multiple complexities that make it extremely difficult for a tenant to follow
without legal counsel.
ORS 90.370 allows tenants to raise habitability counterclaims as a defense to non-
payment of rent evictions. It is this provision of state law that leads some tenants to
withhold rent in attempts to secure repairs (see page 13 regarding the dangers of
withholding rent). While 90.370 is a more commonly used defense, just like 90.365 there
Essential services include heat, plumbing, hot/cold running water, gas, electricity, light fixtures, exterior
locks, window latches, stoves and refrigerator or anything creating a threat to the tenants health, safety or
property or makes the dwelling unfit for occupancy. This list is slightly different for a manufactured or
floating home or an RV.
are significant eviction risks for tenants that choose to use this remedy; it is our
experience that effective use of withholding rent requires legal representation.
PORTLAND PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE, TITLE 29
The City of Portland’s Title 29 Property Maintenance Code requires landlords to comply
with property nuisance requirements (e.g., trash, debris, unsafe holes, disabled vehicles),
housing maintenance requirements and to prevent dangerous and derelict structures.
Housing maintenance requirements (Chapter 29.30) are similar to, but typically much
more specific than, the habitability requirements outlined in ORS 90.320. Some notable
differences include 29.30.110 Interior Dampness which says that “dwelling[s]…shall be
maintained reasonably free from dampness to prevent conditions conducive to decay,
mold growth, or deterioration of the structure;” 29.30.130 Insect and Rodent Harborage
which says that every dwelling shall be free of insect and rodent infestation; and
29.30.180 Heating Equipment and Facilities which outlines very specifically the
requirements for the performance of heating equipment.
TENANT REMEDIES: PORTLAND TITLE 29
Portland is one of the few cities in Oregon that has a housing code and inspections
process.22 The Neighborhood Inspections Program, currently housed in the Office of
Neighborhood Involvement overseen by the Mayor, is responsible for enforcement of
Portland’s Title 29- Property Maintenance Code. The goals of the program are “To
protect the health, safety and welfare of Portland citizens; to prevent deterioration of
existing housing; and to contribute to vital neighborhoods.” Tenants can call the
Neighborhood Inspections Program if they think that their housing doesn’t meet the
Property Maintenance Code.
The Office of Neighborhood Involvement website reads “The inspector will be looking
for conditions which indicate deferred maintenance or unapproved installations.….
Interior conditions might include: broken wiring or fixtures, leaking plumbing pipes,
damaged walls or flooring, missing or non-functional smoke detectors, unsanitary
conditions or signs of pests, broken doors or door hardware, heating problems, missing
handrails, damaged stairs or similar conditions. Note that all of the conditions listed
above are not directly related to health or safety concerns. Violations might also include
conditions which contribute to continued deterioration and to the protection of the
dwelling. These conditions may be imminent or not.”23
When a tenant calls the inspections program about habitability problems, first they talk to
an intake person who asks questions about the nature of the problem and may also ask
additional questions such as if there’s been an eviction or if the caller is late on their rent.
A housing inspector from the Neighborhood Inspections Program then calls to arrange a
time to come out to inspect the unit for code violations, typically within a week. The
Corvallis, Salem and Eugene also have housing codes and inspections programs. Eugene just adopted a
housing code recently after a lengthy campaign led by student activists. This means that much of the state,
including all jurisdictions in the metro area outside of Portland where the number of low-income renters is
increasing especially in places like Gresham and Beaverton, has no housing maintenance code or
inspections’ program to provide an incentive to landlords to preserve existing housing stock and ensure
tenants are not living in unsafe conditions.
inspector inspects the unit, takes pictures and writes up violations if they find them.24
They also typically talk to the tenant about how to change their behavior to prevent code
violations and how to write up repair request forms. Examples of recommendations on
behavior modification may include cleaning the kitchen fan more often or pulling
couches away from the wall to prevent mold growth. Generally, the tenant gets a copy of
the violations’ write-up or if it’s a violation that relates to a common area it’s posted on
the property. Within 7-10 days, the inspector will mail a Notice of Violation to the owner
and tenant (and sometimes the manager and any involved attorneys) with a detailed
description of code violations. The letter explains that if the code violations are not
remedied within 30 days fees will start accruing as liens against the property, and it
explains how the fees and liens work over time. The letter also instructs the owner that
once the corrections are made, they have to call an inspector for a reinspection.
Code enforcement fees are based on the number of units in a building, not on the number
of units that have code violations or the number of violations. For example, a building
with 1-2 units accrues a fee of $90 per month if a violation or violations are not corrected
within 30 days from the date of the letter, whereas the owner of a bigger building will
have to pay anywhere from $185 to $280 month depending on the building’s size. If they
haven’t fixed the problems after six months, those fees double. If the landlord re-rents the
unit without fixing violations they may have to pay an additional $500 penalty. The
inspections program only finds this out if a new tenant calls and complains; it is not
followed-up on otherwise.
Because it is the city auditor’s office, not the inspections program, that collects and
enforces the fees, the city inspectors will often come and conduct a re-inspection without
the landlords ever paying the fees. The fees become a lien on the building that is dealt
with when the building is sold. In theory, the city could foreclose on a property to collect
Some liens can get waived or reduced or in some cases a maximum penalty will apply.
These depend on the type of fee and case. Reductions and waivers result from various
criteria including financial or physical hardship, lapse of contact on part of the city,
evidence of progress, etc. Title 29 does not distinguish between owner and renter
occupied housing, and many waivers are designed to be available only for owner-
If a building has multiple serious violations or if an owner fails repeatedly to remedy
violations, it can be referred to a code hearings officer who has the ability to issue
additional fees and requirements. If a unit’s violations are causing imminent danger to its
occupants, the code hearings officer can order it to be vacated. The City has limited funds
to support relocation of low-income tenants when vacate orders are given.
According to various inspectors, attorneys and tenants, the inspections process is not
always consistent, and inspectors have significant discretion in carrying out their duties.
Inspectors inspect tenant complaints plus fire/life/safety issues and obvious code violations. They do not
check the unit against a list of potential violations based on Title 29.
29.60.100 allows the program director to set a waiver policy, which is laid out in the “Lien Reduction
Case Review Process,” available from the Bureau of Development Services or the Office of Neighborhood
Involvement, March 16, 2005.
For example, if an inspector has a relationship with a property manager, the inspector will
sometimes call the manager prior to inspection to see if they believe they can get them to
take care of a problem right away. In some instances, inspectors will send letters to all
residents of a building inviting inspections if they believe problems are widespread.
Also, there is no set checklist that each inspector is required to use. See page 23 for more
examples on how various tenants have experienced the inspections process.
ORS 90.385 prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants. This means landlords
cannot increase the rent, decrease services, threaten eviction or attempt to evict a tenant
as a result of the tenant asking for repairs or complaining to a government agency. If a
landlord retaliates against a tenant the tenant can sue for two months’ rent or twice the
amount of damages. In eviction cases, retaliation can be used as a defense when the
tenant wishes to continue possession of the unit.
Retaliation is very difficult to prove. In fact, during research for this report, multiple
lawyers told CAT that judges are exceedingly reluctant to award damages or possession
on a retaliation claim, effectively rendering it useless.26 This is not only because it’s
difficult to prove retaliation; there’s also a feeling that judges think it’s too harsh on
landlords. One attorney spoke of a case where a landlord admitted freely in court that she
evicted the tenant because she couldn’t afford to make the repairs the tenant had
requested (and that she was required to make under ORS 90.320) but the judge didn’t rule
retaliation. Sadly, such examples are not uncommon. In fact, only one of the lawyers we
spoke to, all experts on landlord-tenant law in the Portland metro area, was able to recall
a single example of a judge ruling on behalf of a tenant using a retaliation argument.
Tenants who choose to pursue what they believe are violations of 90.385 also run the risk
of having an eviction on their record; this is problematic whether they win or lose (see
page 13). If tenants accept the landlord’s 30-day no-cause termination notice and move,
on the other hand, there will be no eviction on their record. Tenants can move and still
affirmatively sue landlords for retaliation under 90.385. This strategy avoids the risk of
an FED, but it is expensive and difficult to find attorneys to take affirmative retaliation
C. TERMINATION NOTICES AND EVICTION PROCEEDINGS
While eviction types are uniform statewide, court proceedings vary by county.
Multnomah County’s eviction court proceedings tend to work as follows. If a tenant is
not out of the unit by the date on the termination notice, then the landlord goes to court
and obtains an FED (Forcible Entry and Detainer, the formal name for eviction
proceedings) by filing a lawsuit against the tenant. This FED should be mailed to the
tenant and posted on their door with a date to appear in court (known as the first
Attorney Interviews #1, 2, 4 and 5.
This is not a complete explanation of the evictions process but only as it relates to habitability. See
Appendix B for a visual explanation of evictions.
At the first appearance the judge will ask the tenant and landlord to work out a “stipulated
agreement” to avoid trial. Tenants may use evidence in their defense around repairs when
negotiating an agreement with the landlord. Many tenants do not know to do this,
however, and only bring up repair and other issues after they’ve signed an agreement.
After signing an agreement, though, habitability defenses become a non-issue in the
eviction proceedings; the only issue is whether the parties comply with what is in the
Either side can bring a lawyer or someone else to help them, but tenants are not provided
with free legal counsel as in many European countries nor are they provided with
advocates.29 There is a movement for mandatory legal counsel for low-income people in
civil cases in general. Numerous studies from around the country show that tenants who
have representation fare much better in court than those who do not, and that landlords
are far more likely to be represented in court than tenants.30 Landlords are also much
more likely to be experienced in eviction court proceedings. Legal services attorneys are
able to represent only a handful of eligible tenants due to lack of funding and the many
strings that come with their funding. In fact, a recent study showed that 80% of low-
income Americans who need civil legal assistance do not receive any.31 Without
representation, tenants can easily be bullied into signing agreements that are unfavorable
or that they can’t fulfill or don’t understand.
When tenants feel they have a defense against an eviction, as in a case where they are
withholding rent because a landlord won’t make repairs, they can ask for a trial instead of
signing an agreement. The judge will set a date for a trial, generally about a week out.
If a tenant loses a trial in court or fails to comply with a stipulated agreement, then the
judge will determine a date by which they have to leave their rental unit, often 24 hours
from the hearing or trial. If they are not out by that date or if they violate the agreement
they signed with the landlord, the tenant will get a Notice of Restitution posted on their
door giving them four days before the sheriff comes and forces the tenant out while the
landlord changes the locks. Tenants can then make arrangements with their landlord to
get their belongings back.
There are numerous types of termination of tenancy notices that Portland landlords can
issue to tenants depending on the situation.32 If a tenant does not leave the premises by
the date specified on the termination notice, then a landlord can start eviction proceedings
in court to regain possession of the property. These notices are all codified in Oregon’s
CAT’s observation of Multnomah County Eviction Court proceedings, 5/17/05.
There is often a mediator at FED court.
Chester Hartmann and David Robinson, “Evictions: The Hidden Housing Problem,” Housing Policy
Debate, Volume 14, Issue 4, Fannie Mae Foundation 2003, pages 461-500, p477; Andrew Scherer, 1988.
“Gideon’s Shelter: The Need to Recognize a Right to Counsel for Indigent Defendants in Eviction
Proceedings”. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 23(2):557-92, p560; John Nethercut.
“’This Issue Will Not Go Away’: Continuing to Seek the Right to Counsel in Civil Cases” Clearinghouse
REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy November–December 2004, pp. 481-490.
Evelyn Nieves, “80% of Poor Lack Civil Legal Aid, Study Says,” Washington Post, 10/15/05.
While these termination notices are commonly known as “evictions”, an actual eviction process doesn’t
begin until a landlord files a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) in court
Landlord-Tenant Act in 90.400, 90.405 and 90.427; unlike in some other states, no cities
in Oregon have their own eviction laws. There are two types of eviction notices that are
commonly used against tenants seeking to secure repairs. They are 30 day no-cause
notices and 72 hour non-payment of rent notices. More information on them is listed
below; information on the remainder of termination notice types is included in Appendix
Notices especially related to habitability problems:
1. 72 hour non-payment of rent notice: Can be given on the eighth day the rent is
late. If the tenant offers full payment during the 72 hour period s/he has a defense
if the landlord chooses to evict on the notice. Also, in some cases, if the landlord
accepts partial payment the tenant may have a defense in eviction court.
Landlords can instead issue a 144 hour notice on the fifth day the rent is late, but
this type of termination is rarely used.
The non-payment of rent notice is the main reason that the tenant remedy of
withholding rent to force repairs is so impotent. In most cases, landlords will give
a non-payment of rent termination notice in response. Tenants then have to secure
a lawyer to help them prove their repair case in eviction court (see Court Process
above). In most cases, this takes money and time that the tenant doesn’t have.
Even with a lawyer, they run the very real risk of the judge not agreeing with
them and losing their case. In that case, the tenant would lose their home, have an
eviction on their permanent record and be responsible for attorney’s fees. Most
landlords will not rent to someone with a lost eviction on their record, and while it
is against the law to screen out prospective tenants that have won evictions, there
is little to stop landlords from doing so. In some cases, landlords will not look far
enough to see if the tenant won or not, instead stopping the screening process
when they see the letters “FED”.33 In other cases, landlords may not want to rent
to tenants who stood up for their rights and won, and until January 2006,
landlords are not required to tell prospective tenants why their applications are
being denied. 34 It places the burden of proof on the tenant when a landlord
illegally screens them out.
Furthermore, screening criteria that’s given to tenants before they apply for a unit
often includes “no FED” or “no eviction”. This discourages tenants from applying
when they have won an eviction or adhered to a stipulated agreement.
2. 30 day no-cause notice: In most cases, a landlord is not required to have a reason
for terminating the tenancy. A 30 day no-cause notice can be issued in the case of
a month-to-month rental agreement, but not with a fixed term lease (although a
landlord has no obligation to renew at the end of a fixed term lease). Portland has
Verbally told to CAT representatives by landlords at Oregon LL-Tenant negotiations, 2005 Legislative
During the 2005 Oregon legislative session, CAT negotiated with landlord associations the requirement
that landlords have to give one of several generic reasons for denying a tenant if a tenant pays a screening
fee or requests a reason (examples of reasons include financial or criminal history). While this should help
prevent discrimination and retaliation in many cases, such as not renting to a tenant because they’ve won a
previous eviction, there will still be many ways for landlords to get around this law.
a lot of month-to-month rental agreements, and in most cases, when a one-year
fixed term lease is up, it turns into a month-to-month rental agreement.
In the way that non-payment of rent notices render the tenant remedy of
withholding rent useless, no-cause notices make most other tenant remedies
around repair problems very risky. If a low-income tenant knows they can lose
their home and that they don’t have money saved up for the move-in costs at a
new place (cleaning/pet/other fees, security deposits, first and last month’s rent)
then they are often hesitant to call the building inspector or complain to the
landlord about repairs knowing they could receive a no-cause eviction notice.
While this type of retaliation is illegal, it is hard to prove (see Retaliation above).
If landlords had to have a reason for evicting tenants, as they do in some
jurisdictions, then it would be more difficult for them to illegally retaliate against
tenants who have requested repairs.
III. TENANT INTERVIEWS
“Leaky pipes, the linoleum is peeling up, sheetrock pieces and popcorn stuff is falling
down from the walls and ceilings, the deck is falling down, there is faulty electrical,
mold, air coming through our windows and the screen door is falling off.” This tenant,
like all of our respondents, lives in an apartment with serious health and safety violations.
As with many tenants we surveyed, he has multiple repair needs that have not been
addressed by his landlord. Fifty-two percent of surveyed tenants had more than one
In another apartment a tenant reported, “a strong smell of sewage from downstairs, the
stove sparks when we use it, the front pillars are not connected to the overhang they are
supposed to be holding up, and there are holes in the walls, exposing wires and ants and
termites”. Another tenant moved in and discovered, “the electricity was off and it took
seven days to get it on, then there was still no hot water.” Often children are at risk. “My
daughter’s room carpet has holes chewed in it from the rats,” said one tenant.
A. COMMON PROBLEMS
The most frequently cited problem, experienced by a staggering half of our respondents,
Other common problems, most of which pose immediate threats to tenants’ health or
leaks from roofs, ceilings or windows,
non-functioning hot water heaters,
rodent problems and
electrical and plumbing problems.
In addition, many tenants complained that their units were not clean when they moved in.
Indeed, often they were disgustingly dirty. One respondent told us, “we realized all of the
carpet was soaked in pet urine.” Furthermore, common and outdoor areas were not well
kept and tenants spoke of garbage piling up, a condition often leading to rat infestations.
B. CUMULATIVE IMPACT: SMALL PROBLEMS MADE BIG
Tenants reported that even when repair issues did not pose an immediate health risk, they
were often saddled with extra hardship because of their landlord’s refusal to make
repairs. For example, one tenant’s stove didn’t work for three months, making it
impossible for her to prepare meals at home. Another tenant’s leaky window made her
heat bills skyrocket.
When a landlord refuses to make repairs, it can lead to other problems. One tenant’s
leaky roof and ceiling eventually soaked the carpet. In another building, the owner’s
refusal to install a lock on the entryway door led to the discovery of syringes and feces in
the hallway. In another building, a tenant found a gun on the stairs.
C. HOW SUBSTANDARD HOUSING AFFECTS TENANTS’ HEALTH
The experience of the Portland tenants that participated in our research project reflects
the findings of current research on the connection between substandard housing and
health. (See Introduction for an overview of current research.)
Half of our respondents felt as though substandard housing conditions had adversely
affected their health. Mold and the lack of weatherproofing, heat or hot water were most
often thought to be the cause of health problems. The most common complaints were of
breathing problems, the development or worsening of asthma and allergies, headaches
and stomach problems: “My doctor said I was getting sick all the time from mold in my
apartment. I showed the note to the manager but she didn’t care.” One tenant lived next
door to an apartment that had flooded and was never properly dried out or repaired. “I am
continually ill with flu like symptoms and unable to breathe,” she reported.
In other cases, the substandard conditions directly endangered tenants: “I was zapped by
electricity.” One tenant with a back injury was unable to bathe and soak her back strain
because her apartment had no hot water. In another case the tenant said, “the city told us
to boil our water and we had stomach aches.”
Many tenants also experienced health problems due to the extreme stress they were living
under. The stress not only came from living in substandard conditions, but also from the
difficulties tenants faced trying to force their landlords to make repairs. “I don’t know
about the mold and the lead, but the stress of living in the place definitely took its toll,”
shared an interviewee. Another tenant reported excessive stress and anxiety attacks.
Mold was the most common issue identified in our interviews, mentioned by half the
respondents. Moreover, an astounding 22% of all calls to CAT’s Renters’ Rights Hotline,
which counsels tenants on a wide array of matters not just those related to habitability,
are about mold or other environmental health problems. Due to the prevalence of mold
problems for tenants in Portland, this section will focus specifically on the issue of mold
in rental housing.
The reported health effects of mold exposure range from headaches, breathing
difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions and aggravation of asthma symptoms.35
Allergic reactions include nasal stuffiness, watery eyes, runny nose and wheezing; mold
can actually trigger asthma attacks for those who have asthma.36 Populations at risk,
those exposed to molds on a long-term basis and those exposed to toxic molds can
experience even more serious symptoms, including breathing difficulties, memory and
hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms and acid reflux.37 Though most symptoms of
mold exposure can be treated, some residual effects remain permanently, most commonly
those that affect eyesight, memory, coordination/balance and hearing. There are also
Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings: Appendix
B-Introduction to Molds” http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/append_b.html, 39.
Ibid, 39; Douglas F. Schleicher, “Large Damage Verdicts Likely to Mold Laws,” The Legal Intelligencer,
April 8, 2003, http://www.klehr.com/Articles/LI0403.html.
David R. Hunt, “Mold…What Is It All About?”, Monday July 30, 2001, www.mold-help.org/.
documented cases of permanent brain, neurological and immunological damage as a
result of mold exposure.38
Three factors must be present for mold to grow: moisture, oxygen and a food source.39
Because mold can feed on most things, moisture control is the key to controlling mold.40
Moisture creates a mold problem when it gets inside homes and cannot get out. Moisture
gets inside homes when it either enters from the outside from unknown or unintended
sources or is generated from the inside. Mold can enter from the outside through
windows, doors, leaks and heating and cooling systems.41 Some common problems that
cause moisture migration from outside are leaky plumbing, roofs, windows and building
envelopes, and poor drainage caused by both obstructed gutters and inadequate sloping
and drainage systems for keeping the foundation dry.42 In addition, normal and expected
day-to-day activities, such as cooking, showering or doing laundry create moisture in the
air. Regardless of the source, indoor moisture creates a mold problem when it is not
adequately circulated to the outside. Appliances such as dryers, kitchen fans and
bathroom fans that are not hooked up to ventilation systems that channel moisture outside
contribute to indoor moisture problems. Broken appliances that would otherwise be used
to circulate air also contribute to trapping moisture inside the house.
Deferred maintenance causes many of the above problems and allows them to remain
unchecked.43 Additionally, these problems are exacerbated by the unintended
consequences of modern building materials and practices that are popular because they
are cheaper, easier to use and more energy efficient. Building materials such as paper-
covered gypsum board, cellulose ceiling tile and particle board are widely used and
provide good food sources for mold. Other materials in widespread use such as fiberglass
and cellulose cavity insulation, polyethylene vapor retarders and vinyl wallpaper use
make it harder for walls to dry out. Tight windows and other practices to create more
energy efficient homes minimize air circulation. Because moisture moves from warm to
cold and wet to dry, vapor proofing intended to keep water out of walls when it is cold
works in the reverse and keeps water in when it is warm.44
STATE AND LOCAL LAWS
While both state and local laws contain provisions that protect against the conditions that
lead to mold growth, state law does not explicitly address mold whereas the Portland
Property Maintenance Code does. Oregon Revised Statutes require, generally, that the
landlord keep the unit and common areas in good repair. More specifically, this statute
Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation…,” 42; Schleicher, “Large Damage…”; Hunt,
Temperature is also a factor, but is usually accounted for under moisture; Hunt, “Mold…”; Environmental
Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation…,” 39.
Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation…,” 39.
Schleicher, “Large Damage…”.
Schleicher, “Large Damage…”; Andrew J. Perel, “As Mold Spores Grow, So Do Contract Clauses,” The
National Law Journal, June 9, 2003, http://cwt.com/view_attorney.php?attorney=403&type=article;
Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation…,” 39.
Environmental Protection Agency, “Mold Remediation…,” 39; Hunt, “Mold…”.
Julie Bonnin, “Has Mold Met Its Match?” Mold Reporter
http://www.moldreporter.org/vol2no6/hasMOldMet , 3/10/2005.
provides that a unit “must not substantially lack good ventilation, adequate plumbing and
heating…kept in good working order, effective waterproofing and weather protections,
and walls, floors, and ceilings in good repair.”45 Portland’s property maintenance code
expressly addresses mold: “Every dwelling, including basements, and crawl spaces, shall
be maintained reasonably free from dampness to prevent conditions conducive to decay,
mold growth, or deterioration of the structure.”46
Despite the prevalence of mold problems, many landlords maintain that mold is largely
caused by tenant behavior. 47 Rather than identifying moisture entry from the outside or
addressing inadequate ventilation, many landlords seek to reduce indoor moisture by
unreasonably restricting or altering normal tenant behavior such as cooking, bathing and
heating through lease addendums. Examples of the types of requirements included in
mold lease addendums is included in this report as Appendix C. While some reasonable
changes in tenant behavior can limit indoor moisture, it is our experience based on
working with hundreds of tenants who have mold problems that without the added
existence of some other abovementioned problem (leaks, etc.) tenants’ behavior very
rarely causes serious mold.
Tenants report mixed success in using Portland’s Housing Inspection Program to address
mold problems. Inspectors will cite mold as a code-violation, but lack the tools, time or
direction to identify the source of moisture behind the mold problem. If a cursory check
fails to identify a clear source of the moisture, inspectors will cite the mold, but landlords
need only clean the mold or paint over it to remedy the violation. In these cases, landlords
can address the code violation without ever dealing with the underlying moisture
problem, and as a result the mold problem will quickly return. It was also the experience
of tenants in our research project that inspectors overestimated the impact of tenant
behavior on the problem.
It is sometimes possible for tenants to sue successfully for damages when they have
personal property that has been damaged by mold resulting from a lack of waterproofing
and ventilation. Tenants may also sue for reduced rental value for the time that the
landlord failed to make the required repairs that resulted in the mold. However, it is an
uphill battle because according to Oregon attorneys, judges and juries have historically
been sympathetic to landlords in mold cases largely because of Oregon’s wet climate, and
in any case suing is not an option for many tenants due to the time and costs involved.
Despite the growing body of evidence connecting mold to health problems, it is
extremely rare that a tenant will win any personal injury damages from mold-induced
sickness. Mold is a hotly litigated issue, especially between contractors, building
manufacturers and homeowners, with expensive scientists and medical specialists
testifying on both sides in court. Attorneys report expert testimony costing tens of
thousands of dollars.48 For the average tenant who believes they and their family are sick
Portland City Code, Housing Maintenance Requirements, 29.30.130.
Attorney Interview # 3; verbally told to CAT staff at Landlord/Tenant negotiations meeting, February 11,
2005; verbally told to CAT staff during a building inspection.
Attorney Interviews # 3, 5 and 7.
from mold, this means there is little recourse but to move which is often not an option for
E. HOW TENANTS END UP IN SUBSTANDARD HOUSING AND WHY THEY STAY
WHERE TENANTS MOVE FROM
Most tenants moved into their substandard unit from other rental housing in Portland.
Seventeen percent moved here from out of town and 10% were doubled up with friends
or family before moving into their current unit.
Seventy-five percent of the tenants looked at other apartments before deciding to rent
their unit, so how did they end up with units that would have multiple problems?
Seventeen percent found the other apartments they looked at to be too expensive. Some
had a difficult time finding available units and others described the apartments they saw
as “disgusting.” For the tenants who did not conduct a search the main reason was the
expense of application fees; others didn’t have time.
The main reason, given by 28% of respondents, that tenants chose to rent their unit was
affordability. However, other factors played a major role in their decision-making.
Twenty-five percent of tenants cited location of the apartment as an important reason for
making this decision. Location near shops, transit, schools and family were all stated.
Space and roominess were the third most common reason tenants rented their units.
Social networks also played a role. One tenant chose his complex because he grew up
there. Others moved to be near family or friends.
For 15% of respondents compromised rental records limited their options. Some had
previous evictions or poor credit histories. One woman’s spouse had a criminal record
and said her landlord was the only one that would rent to them. Section 8 deadlines and
living doubled up with friends or family put additional limitations and time constraints on
tenant’s searches for decent, affordable rental housing.49
WHEN DO PROBLEMS ARISE?
Only 20% of tenants moved into units they knew to have problems, but 51% began to
experience problems with repairs within their first month of residency. Ninety percent of
tenants discovered the repair issues in their unit within their first year. For some, it took a
change in the seasons for the issue to become obvious. Only three tenants had problems
emerge after years of residency.
Twenty percent of the tenants we spoke with described the condition of their unit as
“bad” when they first looked at it. One tenant decided to rent his unit because it was, he
described, “the best of the lot.” Others felt pressed for time: “I had a limited amount of
time. They [Section 8] sent me to three locations and this was the lesser of the evils. I
thought, I’ll paint it or clean it or do something with it.” Oftentimes the landlord would
promise to repair the unit before the tenant moved in, and then renege on that promise: “It
was horrible, not cleaned, a couple of things broken, but the manager promised to fix
Tenants that receive Section 8 vouchers to assist with rent have a fixed amount of time to find an
apartment were they can use the voucher. Because of an exemption in Oregon’s protection against
discriminating because of “source of income”, landlords don’t have to rent to tenants who have Section 8
vouchers, severing limiting their choices.
them and never did.” In another case we were told, “the landlord promised the problems
would be fixed in a week.”
Seventy-six percent of respondents said their unit was in okay condition when they first
saw it. In one case, and we’ve heard this a number of times on our hotline, a tenant was
shown a different unit than the one they moved into: “The neighbor told me the landlord
shows one apartment that is kept in good condition and then rents others.” For many, the
problems they would soon experience were not visible. “It looked good, clean; everything
was new and fresh but then it started raining,” said one renter.
WHY TENANTS REMAIN IN SUBSTANDARD HOUSING
When tenants were asked their ideal solution to the repair problems in their housing, only
five wanted to move. Fifty-eight percent wanted repairs made and seven tenants
specifically mentioned that they wanted apartments inspected before they moved in.
Tenants requested better weatherproofing and insulation to make their homes habitable.
They also wanted repairs made faster and to have quality work done so repairs would not
snowball into bigger problems. One tenant, echoing the law but unfortunately not
common perception, told us, “the landlord needs to be accountable and the apartment
kept to a certain standard even if it is a cheap apartment [emphasis added].”
Other tenants felt their housing conditions were beyond repair. Two wanted
compensation for having to live in such bad conditions. A few wanted their buildings
condemned. “I would like to be compensated for the lack of repairs because fixing them
isn’t a solution. The apartment has so much wrong it is uninhabitable,” said one fed-up
While most tenants we interviewed wanted to stay in their apartments, conditions led
80% of tenants we interviewed to consider moving at some point in their tenancy.
However, tenants faced many barriers that prevented them from moving to better
housing. Seventy-four percent said they needed monetary support to move. They could
not afford to come up with the application fees, cleaning fees and deposits required to
move into another apartment. “If I had the money I would have moved out sooner,” was a
common refrain. One tenant reported, “I worked a lot of overtime to have the money to
In addition to monetary barriers, tenants also were afraid to break their leases50. Three
requested physical assistance to be able to move into a new home and as many others did
not want to leave their homes because it would be hard on their kids to change schools.
Some tenants had sick or disabled members in their household that complicated their
ability to pick up and move. Other tenants needed assistance to find housing or
Just as tenants cited location and social networks as reasons for selecting a home to rent,
many tenants did not want to move because of these factors. “I am accustomed to living
here, I like the location,” were common refrains. A few tenants had done so much repair
work on their apartments, they were reluctant to leave: “We’ve put so much into the
Oregon law allows tenants to break their lease without penalty if their landlord is not living up to the
lease or the law, but the law is complicated and tenants should not attempt lease-breaking without a lawyer.
place, we feel invested in it.” And finally one tenant said, “I’m not a quitter. I’m not
willing to give up my fight.”
F. TENANTS’ ATTEMPTS TO HAVE REPAIRS MADE
ASKING THE LANDLORD TO MAKE REPAIRS
As problems emerged all of the tenants contacted their landlord or manager by phone, in
person or in writing depending upon protocol in their building. Most tenants’ initial repair
requests were ignored, and tenants reported landlords frequently responding to their
requests with hostility, such as “the landlord said if we were having problems, we should
just leave.” Another tenant was told, “If you don’t like it, leave.” One landlord threatened
his tenant with “your kids will be on the street.”
Ultimately, tenants’ repair issues were just not taken seriously: “My toilet was clogged
right after I moved in and overflowing. I called the manager and he told me it was after
hours to call a plumber so to just use the toilet near the office.” In another instance, when
the apartment next door flooded and was never properly cleaned up, one tenant
complained to her manager about “getting sick from the smell and the mold itself…and it
sounded like to them it was no big deal.” Another tenant commented, “[T]he landlord
seemed annoyed and made me feel like I was imposing.”
Some landlords would eventually respond to tenants’ requests but it took months for
serious problems to be fixed; in one case, “the landlord said he had a lot to do, so he
dragged his feet.” In other situations, the repairs would be so shoddily made they would
lead to repeated or compounded problems later. One tenant nicknamed her complex’s
maintenance crew the “Budweiser management team” because they drank on the job.
Another tenant with a bug infestation kept experiencing problems because, “he [the
landlord] refused to spray the entire complex, just one unit at a time.” A few tenants were
told to fix the problems themselves: “I was given some weather-stripping because the
landlord didn’t want to deal with it.” In one case the landlord responded to some tenants,
but refused to make repairs for the three units where Muslim renters lived.
In some cases, high turnover of managers or landlords led to a lack of response to
tenants’ repair requests. “I compiled a list of concerns for management but there’ve been
seven managers in eighteen months so I have to explain my problems to each new
manager and still nothing gets done,” explained an exasperated tenant. One renter’s
building was sold to a more responsible landlord, yet in order to deal with structural
problems, she told us, “the new landlord wants us to move out for three months; I’ve
lived here twelve years.” She had nowhere to go. In a few situations, the managers were
responsive but landlords were not or vice versa.
WHEN THE LANDLORD WON’T MAKE REPAIRS
After not getting a response from the landlord, tenants sought out other recourses. Fifteen
percent of renters made repairs themselves and deducted the cost from their rent.
Sometimes this was with the landlord’s consent and other times not. 10% of respondents
withheld all or a portion of their rent to try and force repairs. After one tenant threatened
to withhold rent the landlord was “all over it.”
Despite having the right to withhold rent when repairs do not get made, most tenants we
spoke with were hesitant to exercise this right.51 Slightly more than half of those tenants
that withheld rent felt it was effective, and these tenants were working with legal counsel
they had learned of from CAT. One brave renter without legal counsel said, “[the
landlord] screamed and yelled saying you can’t withhold rent, but we knew we could
because of the Legal Aid book…we are paying rent into another account and the landlord
is slowly making repairs.”
The other half of the tenants faced evictions, late fees or other landlord retaliation when
they withheld rent. One tenant said, “I withheld rent for a week because of the gas leak,
but the landlord was so aggressive about it I didn’t ever try to withhold rent again. I was
afraid how he would react.” Two tenants received eviction notices that were overturned
in court because of the landlord’s refusal to make repairs. Other tenants, like this one,
received late fees when they didn’t pay: “I deducted the money for a new TV after the
electrical problems destroyed mine. The landlord said he can’t accept inadequate rent and
charged me a late fee.”
Many tenants were afraid to withhold rent. Tenants making repairs and deducting the cost
from their rent, often with the landlord’s consent, was more common. One tenant
commented, “I will never withhold rent. I am so afraid of getting evicted and having to
go to court if I don’t pay rent.”
G. FEAR OF RETALIATION
Most tenants chose not to call inspectors or withhold rent because of fear of landlord
retaliation. This fear is completely justified considering our respondents’ experiences,
which are echoed on our hotline on a regular basis, not to mention court outcomes in
retaliation cases. One tenant was “worried about the backlash.” “Sometimes the owners
argues with me or treats me like a senile old lady. I need to stay there and make sure they
write it down [the repair request] or else nothing will happen. I try to use a sense of
humor and laugh about it with the landlord so he doesn’t get mad,” stated another tenant.
Renters are in a unique market situation, one in which as the customer they have very
little negotiating power when indeed, because it is their home, they should have more
consumer protections than with any other product.
H. EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CITY INSPECTIONS PROGRAM IN ELIMINATING
SUBSTANDARD RENTAL HOUSING52
Close to 50% of our respondents called a housing inspector. Of those who did not access
the program, many would have had they known about it, but some chose not to call the
inspections program because of fear of retaliation.53
At CAT, we always advise tenants against withholding rent unless being advised to by an attorney. The
difficulty in defending against non-payment of rent evictions makes using this option very risky absent
It should be noted that CAT has been working closely with the Neighborhood Inspections Program and
individual inspectors in the course of its building-based organizing done through the Safe Housing Project.
This relationship has resulted in some improvements for tenants including expanding the number of cases
referred to code hearings.
While the Neighborhood Inspections Program web pages have a nuisance form for people to report their
neighbors regarding weeds, debris and other nuisances, no where does it actually state that tenants can call
if landlords are not making repairs. It reads, “When the Residential Inspection Division receives a
For one-third of the tenants who requested an inspection, the program helped them get
repairs made. “After the inspector came, the management company made the repairs in
my unit quickly,” remarked one tenant. Sometimes landlords moved slowly, but the
inspections program made them address the problems. For example, “the inspector came
within two hours and cited seventeen violations. Then the landlady started making
repairs-she isn’t meeting deadlines but it is working slowly.” In another case, a tenant
told us, “I called the inspectors and the landlord promised to fix things up if I would call
off the inspection, so I cancelled it and he never made repairs. We called the inspectors
back and began withholding rent when eighteen of the sixty units in our building were
Unfortunately, two-thirds of tenants did not find the inspection program very helpful. In
one case, anyone who asked for an inspection had their cars towed from the parking lot.
In another building, “the landlord got hostile and threatened to give us a 30 day [eviction]
notice and increased our rent.” Many landlords missed deadlines to make repairs.
Another common complaint was landlords would make a shoddy or temporary repair just
to pass a reinspection and never deal with the underlying problems. In some cases tenants
felt as if housing inspectors overlooked some violations: “It’s like pulling teeth to try and
get the inspector to write things down,” observed one interviewee. Other times,
inspectors overstepped their authority: “I called the inspector and he called my landlord
first to ask if I was a good tenant, and do I pay my rent…I got nervous I could be evicted
so I cancelled the whole thing,” shared one worried tenant. Mold issues were especially
unevenly enforced. In one case where a flooded basement led to mold in a tenant’s
apartment, the tenant told us, “[the inspector] told me we would be charged for some
things and the landlord for some.” Finally, the bureaucracy did not always function the
way it is supposed to. One tenant’s landlord “never got the [housing code violations]
letter because his address wasn’t current at the inspector’s office.”
Regardless of the effectiveness of the inspections program, many tenants who used it
faced retaliation from their landlords. Some tenants received eviction notices, for
example “the landlord gave us a 72 hour [eviction] notice after the inspector took pictures
and wrote up some violations. We called him and said we had paid our rent and had
receipts to prove it. The landlord said he’d rescind the notice but then we got a summons
to show up for court anyway.” Another tenant: “When the landlord got the inspections
notice we got an eviction notice.” Other landlords tried to pass the charges for fines or
repairs off on their tenants. Many tenants received retaliatory notices from their
management company or landlords. “I got notices of rental agreement violations because
I had patio furniture. This had never been a problem before in all the four years I lived
there,” stated one surprised renter. “He retaliated with harassment and pitting neighbor
against neighbor,” reported another tenant.
complaint or request for service on a particular property, an inspector is dispatched to investigate.” This
lack of marketing to tenants makes it difficult for tenants to know that this is one of their options under the
IV. TENANT SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION
In our interviews, tenants were asked what they thought needed to be done to eliminate
substandard rental housing in Portland. Their answers provide great insight into how the
current system fails tenants, and offer practical changes that can be made to prevent other
renters from being trapped in poor quality housing. In this section, we describe the range
of suggestions tenants provided during our interviews.
A. INDUSTRY REGULATION
Many tenants were shocked to find out how little regulation there is in the business of
rental housing. Tenants would like landlords to be better trained and monitored. Specific
Requiring landlords to receive training on communication skills, Fair Housing laws
and the Portland housing code.
A Better Business Bureau-type agency for landlords and management companies.
Tenants felt that since landlords can access information on their background, they
should be able to easily access information that is relevant to their renting the unit,
such as if there have been complaints against the landlord.54
A permitting process for landlords. Tenants felt that, like other businesses, landlords
should have to get a permit to operate their business.55 Tenants suggested permitting
or licensing would serve as a first step to protecting the health and safety of tenants
much the same way hotels or restaurants are regulated for public health.
B. INSPECTIONS PROGRAM CHANGES
Many tenants suggested changes in the inspections program. Specific suggestions
Annual systematic inspections that reduce the risk of retaliation against tenants.
Tenants felt like it shouldn’t be their burden to hold the landlord accountable to city
housing code; instead monitoring and accountability should be built into the system.
The ability to access rental assistance or transitional housing if their unit was found to
have a large number of code violations.
Stiffer fines when repair deadlines are not met.
Not allowing landlords to rent out poor quality housing.
Inspections of entire buildings/apartment complexes when violations seem to be
Currently you can check on-line to see if there have been code violations at a particular property at
www.portlandmaps.com. It is very difficult to understand this information, it only exists if a previous
tenant has complained because the inspections process is complaint driven and a prospective tenant can’t
see if there have been complaints at a landlord’s other properties. Furthermore, tenants risk retaliation when
calling the building inspector. Some tenants want a place where they can anonymously lodge a complaint
against a landlord or business for future tenants to see but that wouldn’t impact their current or future
Currently in Portland landlords have to get business licenses if they operate over nine units. This leaves
out many rental units.
A more comprehensive response to mold. Tenants want inspections process to include
better tools for assessment of the moisture sources that are leading to mold so that
landlords must address the root of the mold problem.
Allow the city to make repairs and bill the landlord when code violations aren’t
addressed in a timely manner.
Better response to problems with appliances. Many tenants suggested requirements
that appliances be kept up to date.
C. ENFORCEMENT OF REPAIR LAWS/HOUSING CODE
Tenants suggested strengthening the enforcement of ORS 90.320 and Title 29.
Allow tenants to withhold rent to force repairs without fear of 72-hour eviction. Many
tenants asked for a more do-it-yourself system. Under current law, it is very difficult
to withhold rent and not get evicted if you don’t have a lawyer. Tenants want a
system that is easier to use, doesn’t require a lawyer and doesn’t require them to risk
their housing, especially for habitability issues.
Put a timeframe in state law on when repairs have to be made to prevent landlords
from dragging their feet.
D. INCREASED RENTERS’ RIGHTS EDUCATION
Tenants felt that increasing tenant education would address some of the problem.
Many tenants wanted to make the building inspections program much better known.
Some tenants suggested a copy of the housing code be included in their rental
Others wanted to require their landlord to provide them with copies of Oregon
Tenants also wanted a better support system for renters. Many stressed the need for a
faster response on the CAT peer-run Renters’ Rights Hotline.56
E. OTHER SUGGESTIONS
Tenants want to require landlords to show the actual unit that a tenant will be renting.
The law has no such requirement currently.
Tenants asked for more affordable housing. A large reason that tenants move into
substandard units is the general lack of affordable options.
Tenants want to make it easier to get an eviction off your record, especially if they
win the court hearing. This means that if they do withhold rent to force repairs they
don’t risk their future rental options. While currently evictions that end in a
stipulated agreement are supposed to be changed from dismissed in favor of the
tenant in public record after one year, this typically doesn’t happen.
While CAT’s hotline has counseled close to 20,000 tenants over the years, the organization has a small
staff and its dedicated volunteers can only handle so many calls. There is so much demand that the hotline’s
capacity of 45 messages is filled up in a matter of 24 hours. There are simply not enough volunteers to
respond to the demand.
This research project highlights a number of instructive findings about who lives in
substandard housing, how renters end up in poor quality units and why they remain there.
Affordability was cited as the number one reason people chose to rent their unit,
suggesting the role the affordable housing shortage plays in limiting options for renters.
In addition, factors such as location, unit size and social networks played important roles
in renters’ decision-making suggesting low-income people do not make housing
decisions based purely on economics. Clearly we need to offer a variety of affordable
units, in different sizes, throughout the city in desirable locations. In addition, a
significant minority of our respondents had compromised rental histories, received
Section 8 or couldn’t afford multiple rental applications- factors that also limited their
options in their housing searches. These barriers must be addressed as we support tenants
in securing safe housing.
Most renters who are living in substandard housing moved in not knowing the problems
they would face, and few had ever experienced such problems with their housing
conditions. Our interviewees did not just represent an “underclass” of tenants that are
forced from one substandard housing unit to another in our City’s “housing of last
resort.” Certainly some of those interviewed had repeated experience with poor housing,
but the problem of substandard housing appears to be much more widespread. While
those we interviewed were disproportionately low-income, very low-income, disabled or
people of color, the specter of substandard housing threatens all renters and our greater
communities. This is Portland’s existing affordable housing stock; now more than ever it
urgently requires preservation.
Most of our interviewees were long-term, stable renters. Two-thirds of the tenants we
surveyed had lived in their homes for more than one year. One-quarter rented their units
for five or more years. Only 12% had been living in their apartments for less than six
months. Most tenants, we discovered, preferred having their units brought up to safe,
livable conditions to moving. This suggests a need for stronger enforcement of Title 29
by the City.
The current inspections and enforcement program has helped many tenants, but a clear
majority feels the current system for enforcement is just not working. Beyond the City’s
inspection program, we must implement strategies to reduce the barriers tenants face to
using the remedies provided by Oregon’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act, such as
Despite the preference for staying in their homes reported by many of our interviewees,
given financial and physical assistance, many tenants would be willing to relocate to safer
housing. Once tenants sign a rental agreement, however, they become trapped in the unit,
regardless of its conditions. Tenants need some recourse to be able to leave units when
the quality of their living conditions becomes obvious.
Landlord retaliation occurred throughout tenants’ struggles to try and get repairs made.
Some landlords retaliated against tenants just for asking for repairs. When tenants
withheld rent or called the city inspectors they were subject to threats, harassment, rent
increases and eviction. Tenants need protections to prevent landlord retaliation. Current
law does little to prevent landlords from punishing tenants and puts the burden of proof
of retaliation on the renter. Habitability cases should not be decided in eviction court.
In conclusion, tenants feel as though the laws are written for the protection of the
landlord. However, just knowing the rights they have, hearing a friendly voice on the
hotline or working with their neighbors made tenants feel empowered. The work that
CAT and other agencies do makes an incredible difference in the lives of many Portland
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
(Will be analyzed to determine the types of repair issues tenants face and the extent of the
1. What types of repair problems do you have?
2. What types of repair problems have you had in other complexes?
(Will be analyzed to determine why tenants rent substandard housing, when does the
problem begin, how can it be recognized and what barriers kept tenants from better
1. How long have you lived in your apartment?
2. Where did you live before this (in another apartment, house, motel, shelter, from
3. When you moved in did you look at many other apartments before renting this
4. What condition were they in?
5. What condition did your apartment seem to be in when you first saw it?
6. What made you decide to move in to this apartment?
(Will be analyzed to determine when repair issues began and what strategies were used
to address them)
1. When did you first notice the repair problems?
2. What did you do to try and get them fixed?
3. Did it work?
(Will be analyzed to determine how well OR landlord/tenant statues work and the
efficacy of withholding rent and to determine whether a tenant inability to pay full rent
on time is a factor in why they remain in the unit)
1. How much do you pay for rent?
2. Under Oregon state laws, tenants have the right to withhold part of rent if repairs
are not made. However, you must have the help of an attorney to do this. CAT
never recommends that tenants take this step unless you are working with a
lawyer, because the landlord will try and evict you. Some tenants, however, with
serious repair problems have either withheld part of their rent or paid rent late or
repaired their apartments themselves and then deducted the cost from their rent on
their own. Have you ever failed to pay some or all of your rent or paid late for
any reason? How did the landlord respond? How do you think the repair
problems affected his/ her response to your actions?
(Will be analyzed to determine the efficacy of the inspections program and the extent of
the fear of and actual landlord retaliation)
1. In the City of Portland, tenants have the right to request an inspection of your
apartment from the city. If the city inspector finds code violations in your
apartment, the landlord will be given a notice and 30 days to repair any problems.
If s/he does not make the repairs within that time, they can be fined by the city.
Have you ever called the city inspector, why or why not?
2. What happened when you called the inspector?
3. How did your landlord treat you after the inspection?
(Will be analyzed to determine whether moving is an option, what barriers there are to
moving and what tenants prefer: remaining and having repairs made or finding other
housing and why)
1. Are you still having repair problems?
2. How has your lack of repairs affected your health?
3. What would be your ideal solution to these repair problems?
4. Have you considered moving out?
5. What support would you need to be able to move if you chose to do so?
(Will be analyzed to determine how different demographic groups are affected by
substandard housing and which barriers prevent tenants from finding quality housing)
1. How many people are in your household?
2. What is your monthly income?
3. Do you receive any rental assistance?
4. Do you have a disability?
5. What race/ethnicity are you?
6. Do you have any pets?
7. Have you had any difficulties when you have tried to find housing in the past?
(If you want an answer, ask the question)
1. The answers you have just shared with me today will be used as part of a study to
try and figure out the most effective way CAT can try and change landlord/tenant
laws and /or city codes to make sure all tenants are able to rent affordable, high
quality housing that is kept in good repair. What, from your own experiences,
would be the most helpful change CAT could make to ensure that all tenants have
good quality housing?
2. Once we have completed all of the interviews, there will many opportunities to
get involved on these issues. Are you interested in being part of that by giving
testimony/telling your story either to city officials or the media?
Appendix B: The Eviction Pr o cess
This is a general overview of the eviction process, and is only for general educational purposes. Your situation may be different,
particularly if you are in subsidized housing or rent a space for a mobile home. Get legal advice!
Notice of Termination
Must be in writing and must be given to you properly (handed to you, mailed to you with three extra days, or posted and mailed to you if the agreement allows).
The fact that you received an eviction notice can be reported to potential new landlord s calling for references
Your landlord cannot lock you out until the very end of the eviction process and only with the presence of a sheriff (see Step 7).
30-day No Cause 30 day 10 Day For 10 Day PetNotice ym
72 Hour Nonpa ent of 24 hour 24 hour Unlawful
Notice For Cause Cause Violation of no pets Rent Notice Outrageous Occupant
The Landlord d oes not have Notice Notice rule. Tenant h as 10 Conduct Notice
to gi ve you a reas on. You may Can be g iven on the eighth
Violation of days to remo ve the Notice Landlord claims that
have a defense if the notice For tenants day rent is late. Can only be
rental animal. Cont act an For violence, you live there without
was given because of who have used for late rent (not fees,
agreement. Y ou attorney if the landlord threats, and illegal your lan dlord’s
retaliation (asking for repairs , recei ved a 30 depo sits, etc).
have 14 days to has known about the (drug, prostitu tion, knowledge or
for ex ample) or discrimination. Day For Landlor ds must accept full
fix the proble m. pet and h as accepted etc. ) ac tivity by permi ssion. If your
If you t hink the landlord is Cause notice payment during the notice
Fix the problem! rent previo usly. Also, if tenant or tenan t’s landlord claims that you
giving you this notice because within the last period. S ee if they will accept
Or cont act an the pet h elps you with guest or pet. are an unlawf ul
of your violation of the rent al 6 month s and partial p ayment. Call 211 or
attorney, your d isability, contact Get legal advice occupant, ca ll an
agreement, try to talk with your have violated 503-222-5555 for Informa tion
especially if your the Fair Housing now to se e if this attorney! Your landlord
landlord to solve the pro blem their rental about rent assistance.
landlord has Council 1(800) 424 - notice is cannot lock you out
and prevent the term ination. agreement i n Do not withhold your rent for
accepted rent 3247. appropriate! without going thro ugh
the sam e way repairs u nless advised by an
after the not ice. the court pr ocess.
If tenant is still in the unit.... If problem is not If tenant is still If pet and tenant are If rent is still not paid and If tenant is still in If tenant or guest is
corrected and in unit... still in unit.... tenant is still in unit... unit.... still in unit....
tenant is still in
STE P 2: F ED ( Fo r cib le En tr y a nd D eta i ner )
Landlord m ust go to court to obtain an FED and file a lawsuit against the tenan t. FED is the forma l name for eviction proc eedings.
The land lord cannot lock you out at this point!
FED is mailed to you and posted on the front door. The date you must appear in court in on the papers. Talk to your landlord now!
See a lawyer if you have a legal defense! Go to court and be on time!
An FED may show up on your r ental or credit r ecord. It may be a per man ent public r ecor d. An FED may make it difficult for you to find housing in the future.
St ep 3 : Firs t Ap pe a ra n c e a t Co urt
If you don’t show up, you ma y lose automatically.
In most cases, the judge will ask you to work out an agreement with your landlord if possible to solve the problem and avoid trial. It’s a good idea to bring someone with
you who can help you think clearly. The court might provide a mediator (who may not know about your rights) if you ask for one.
If you make an agreement with your landlord and sign it, you are bound by the terms. Read the agreement carefully and try to make changes if necessary. If you don’t
comply, you can be forced out of your home very quickly (see steps 6-8). If you do comply with the agreement, the FED should be dismissed in your favor within one year,
and prob ably can’t be used against you in the future.
If you have a defense (for example you are withholding rent because your landlord won’t make repairs), you can ask for a trial. If you lose, you will most likely be
responsibl for your landlord’ attorney and court costs. Get legal advice!
Tenants may bring any evidence, but trial probably won’t be the day of first appearanc Evidence might be helpful for mediation.
St e p 4 St e p 5 St e p 6 St e p 7 St e p 8
Tr ial No t ic e of R es t i t u t ion P o s te d Ex e c ut io n Gettin g Yo u r
Da te t o on Doo r of Be l ong i ng s Bac k
1-7 days after 1st Le a v e (If you are no t out by the day ordered by the judge or if you R es t i t u t io
appearance violate the agreement with your landlord) n Landlord must giv e y ou
Talk to attorne y before Judge If you are still in unit, you have 4 days to leave. If you can’t notice to pick up y our left
going to trial determines move out everything, move out your valuables to someplace Sheriff requires belongings. Make
Winner may get date if y ou safe. tenant to leave arrangements with y our
judgment against loser lost your court If you have an agreement with your landlord and complied with w hile landlord landlord now to get y our
it or tried t o but the landlord wouldn’t let you, you have the changes locks.
for attorney ’s fees case. right to as k for a court hearing. Get legal advice! things back. You have
limited time to collect them.
Appendix C: Typical Language from Mold Addendums
Typical mold addendums include numerous responsibilities that a tenant must agree to
when signing. Requirement may include:
To keep unit free of debris and dirt;
To clean bathrooms and kitchens with mold killing products;
To clean all moisture spills;
To regularly clean window tracks;
To keep heat at a certain range in all rooms at all times (ranges we’ve seen included
in mold addendums vary. Ranges we’ve seen include between 55 degrees and 72
degrees and between 60 degrees and 80 degrees.);
To open windows periodically (some specify “weather permitting,” others do not);
To use fans in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry room during and after cooking,
bathing and laundering;
To cover all fish tanks;
To use a dehumidifier when weather is humid;
To keep space between furniture and walls (amount of space required varies from 1
inch to six inches or one foot);
To report any moisture problems to the landlord; and
To limit amount of houseplants.