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Defenses to an Eviction Case

You may be able to stop an eviction if you have a defense. A defense is a legal reason that your landlord should not evict you.

After your landlord starts an eviction case in court, if you want to fight the eviction, you must turn in a court form called Answer to a Residential Eviction. On this form, you must list your legal defenses. 

Keep reading for information on common legal defenses.

Important! Saying you can’t afford to move or that you need more time is not a legal defense. 

If your landlord does not follow the rules for termination notices, you can use this defense to ask the court to stop the eviction. You can go here to check if your landlord followed all the rules. 

Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible if you think your landlord didn't follow the rules. 


You took care of the problem listed as the reason for your eviction before the deadline on the notice. Or, for a nonpayment case, you paid the landlord all of the money the landlord said you owed on the termination notice.

If your eviction case is for not paying rent, but the landlord did not make needed repairs, you may have a defense. To use this defense you must: 

  1. Pay the total rent due, as listed on the notice, to the court before trial, and
  2. Be able to show the court that the value of the needed repairs is equal to more than what you owe in rent.


  1. Landlord says you owe $2,000 in back rent, and
  2. You can show that you had to pay $3,000 extra for heating because the landlord did not repair your broken windows.

The landlord is trying to punish you for something you did. Retaliation is against the law, and you cannot be evicted for any of these reasons:

  • You made an honest complaint to the landlord about anything related to your rental unit.
  • You complained to a public agency that the landlord was not following building, health, or safety rules, housing discrimination laws, or delivering mail properly.
  • You testified against your landlord in some other legal case.
  • You organized other renters or belong to a renters’ union.
  • You fought and won an eviction case against this landlord in the last 6 months, and your defense was not about incorrect Notice or incorrect service of the Notice. 
  • You insisted on using your legal rights, such as asking for a reasonable accommodation for your disability.
  • You can use a retaliation defense only if you got a 90-day, 30-day, 10-day, or 24-hour Notice, but you think the real reason is retaliation. 

Important! You cannot use a retaliation defense if your case is about not paying your rent—unless you can prove that you do not owe any rent. 

Discrimination is illegal. 

  • If you received a no cause notice to move, and you think the real reason is discrimination, use this defense. You must show the court that your landlord is trying to evict you because of your race, gender, family situation, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age. 
  • If you received a notice that says you did not follow the rental agreement, but the reason is related to your physical or mental disability, ask your landlord to overlook the violation. Also ask for a reasonable accommodation of the lease terms. 

Landlords must not evict because you or someone in your household was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Your landlord cannot evict you because: 

  • You violated your rental agreement or Oregon law, because of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking against you;
  • The police responded to a call at your place because of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking against you;
  • You or someone in your household was the victim of a crime related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; or
  • There was damage to your home caused by an abuser.

Exception: Landlords can evict for any of the above reasons if they already gave you a written warning about the abuser’s conduct and you:

  • Allowed the abuser onto the property and the abuser is a threat to others on the property, or
  • The abuser lives with you at the rental unit but is not listed in the rental agreement, or lives there without the landlord’s permission. 

If you think you have another defense that is not listed on the Answer to a Residential Eviction form, find legal help.

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