Retaliation by a Landlord
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oregon
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IMPORTANT: This is an excerpt from the 2016 Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon booklet. This booklet and all Resources referred to below are available on this website. This information is for general educational use only. It is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you have a specific legal question, you should contact an attorney. The information included here is accurate as of March 2016. Please remember that the law is always changing through the actions of the courts, the legislature, and agencies.
TIME LIMIT WARNING Under state and federal laws there are time limits for taking action to enforce your rights. Most lawsuits related to the rental agreement and the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act must be filed (started in court) within one year of the incident. There may be other — shorter — time limits that apply in other cases. Ask a lawyer about the time limits that could apply in your situation.
Can a landlord retaliate against me after I complain about the need for repairs or other protected activity?
Your landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent, decreasing services, serving an eviction notice, threatening eviction, or filing an eviction case after you:
- Have made any good faith complaint to the landlord about the tenancy (such as the need for repair or a violation of the rental agreement);
- Complain to certain code enforcement agencies;
- Join or organize a tenants’ union; (see the question 'What is a tenants' union?' below)
- Testify against the landlord in court;
- Win in an eviction court case against your landlord within the last six months, unless the win was based on a technicality; or
- Do something or say that you will do something to assert your rights as a tenant under any law.
You may sue for retaliation and ask for twice the actual damages or up to two months’ rent, whichever is more. You may also raise retaliation as a defense to an eviction based on a 30 or 60 day no cause notice if you can prove the notice was given in retaliation. However, retaliation is either not an available defense or unlikely to be a winning defense if:
- you owed rent when the notice was given;
- if any code violations were caused by you or your guests;
- if you made repeated harassing complaints to the landlord; or
- when repairs needed cannot be made without forcing you to move out.
Contact a lawyer before using retaliation as a defense in an eviction case or as a claim for money damages. ORS 90.385. See the Time Limit Warning above.
What is a tenants’ union?
It is a group of two or more tenants who have come together informally or formally to discuss problems experienced by the tenants such as the need for repairs, complaints about management, to sign petitions, or to take other action for tenants. The law protects a tenant’s right to organize a tenants’ union or to be part of a tenants’ union. See ‘Can a landlord retaliate against me after I complain about the need for repairs or other protected activity?’ above for information about retaliation against a tenants’ union.