Everything you need to know about moving to Greater Portland.

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Know Your Rights as a Renter: Tenant's Rights

Photo courtesy Travel Portland

As a renter in Greater Portland, just like in any other city, it’s important to understand the rights and regulations that apply to your living situation.

When you rent a home from a landlord or a management company, you’re entering into an important legal relationship that can have a significant effect on your quality of life. It’s crucial that you’re comfortable with this relationship, and feel good about the person you’ll be dealing with when renting your home.

Reading the lease and understanding your rights is the first step to entering a positive relationship with the owner of your home.

Due to the high demand and low vacancy rates of apartments in the Portland area, it’s also important to know these things well in advance. Once you find your perfect apartment, you won’t want to delay. Understanding the small print, before you start your search will point you in the direction of the path to your perfect place.

Renter’s Insurance

Property owners in Oregon are required to insure their buildings, but that insurance does not protect tenants in the event that your property is stolen or damaged. That’s what renter’s insurance is for.

Renters insurance will also protect you in the event that the apartment is damaged as a result of your actions, like a flood occurring after the faucet was left on.

Landlords have the right to require renter’s insurance of their tenants, and this regulation is becoming more and more common. This requirement must be communicated in the lease and cannot exceed $100,000 in required coverage. Before you start looking for apartments, it’s helpful to take inventory of your valuable belongings and speak to an insurance agent about what it would cost to cover them.

Renter’s insurance will give you peace of mind and protection for your home. For only about $170 per year, it can save you thousands of dollars in a variety of otherwise unpleasant scenarios.

Regulations, Fire Codes, and Grilling

It’s important to read all of the fine print and be aware of what you are and are not allowed to do on your rented Portland property.

Renters in Oregon are responsible for checking their smoke detectors, at least once every six months, and changing the batteries as needed. If the smoke detectors are defective, landlords are responsible for replacing them.

Portlanders enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, but when it comes to using your outdoor space at your apartment, there are some rules you must consider. The use of charcoal and gas grills on combustible porches or within 10 feet of combustible construction is not allowed. You should also avoid cooking too close to your building, or beneath overhanging eaves and branches.

When entertaining guests outdoors — in community spaces or on private patios — renters should refer to their lease for regulations on the number of people allowed and the activities that might be prohibited.

Tenant Rights

Property owners are responsible to you, the renter, for the safety and livability of your home. Your apartment must be in good living condition when you move in; your unit must be free of pests and there must be proper wiring, plumbing, and heating.

It’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain these aspects of your apartment, throughout your time there. If maintenance work must be done for upkeep to the plumbing, wiring, or heating, the landlord is responsible for covering those costs.

Landlords in Portland may charge a security deposit before move-in, to cover any potential damage during your time living there. When you move out, the landlord is required to return your security deposit, provided nothing was damaged beyond normal wear and tear, within 31 days.

Even though your landlord owns the property, renters have the right of exclusive possession, which means that you have the right to your privacy within your rented property. Landlords may not enter without at least 24 hours’ notice.

Month-to-month rental agreements are not uncommon in Portland. These can be convenient for renters who are not ready to make a full-year commitment on a property. Renters can leave their lease without any kind of fine if they provide 30 days’ notice, but renters should also consider that a month-to-month agreement gives landlords the option to terminate a lease with a 30-day notice as well.

It’s the tenant’s responsibility to know their rights before they sign a lease. Be sure to read your lease thoroughly before entertaining into a legal relationship with your landlord or management company.