With the passage of Senate Bill 91 earlier this year, landlords in Oregon will be limited in the use of information obtained in tenant screenings. Landlords will be restricted in the use of criminal history and other information. The new restrictions become effective January 1, 2014.
When evaluating an applicant for a rental agreement, a landlord may not consider an action taken against a tenant to recover possession of a property under certain circumstances. An eviction action may not be considered if it was dismissed or resulted in a general judgment for the applicant before he or she submits an application. An eviction action may not be considered if it resulted in a general judgment against the applicant five or more years before the application is submitted.
When evaluating an applicant for a rental agreement, a landlord may not consider a previous arrest record if the arrest did not result in a conviction. However, landlords may consider criminal convictions and pending charges if it is for conduct that is:
- A drug-related crime;
- A crime against a person;
- A sex crime;
- A crime involving financial fraud, including identity theft and forgery; or
- Any other crime that involves conduct that would adversely affect property of the landlord or a tenant, or the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
Under Oregon law, a landlord must give an applicant actual notice of the fact that the application was denied based in whole or in part on a tenant screening company or consumer credit reporting agency report. The notice must be provided at the same time that the landlord notifies the applicant that his or her application for a rental agreement is denied.
A landlord may require an applicant to pay the average actual screening costs at the time that the application for a rental agreement is processed. Actual costs may include the cost of using a tenant screening company or a consumer credit reporting agency.
Senate Bill 91 has other provisions affecting landlords and tenants. For instance, it allows landlords to require a tenant to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance.
A review of Senate Bill 91 is available here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Measures/Text/SB91/Enrolled