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Move-In Fees and Deposits

Learn more about application fees, deposits, and other fees your landlord can charge when you move into a rental. To read about rental agreements and lease agreements, go here. 

A deposit is any payment that encourages the renter to follow the rental agreement. The difference between a deposit and a fee is that the landlord has to pay the deposit back when the renter moves out, unless the renter caused damage. It’s usually called a security deposit.

No. A deposit is refundable when the renter moves out. A fee is not.

If a renter follows the rules in the rental agreement and does not damage the rental unit except for “ordinary wear and tear,” the landlord must refund the full security deposit within 31 days after the renter moves. The landlord can keep money from the deposit to cover damage, but the landlord has to give a written list of the charges.

Tip: Before you move in, check to see if anything is wrong with the rental. Write down a list or take pictures of any damage. Keep a record, even of minor problems, or you may be charged for them when you move out.

If your landlord does not return your deposit or send you a list of charges within 31 days, you can send them a letter and start the Small Claims process if you don’t hear back.

No. Landlords must not charge deposits for assistance animals needed because of a disability. But landlords can charge a deposit for a pet.

It depends. Landlords cannot charge you just to put your name on a waiting list.

But if there is a unit available, landlords can charge for screening costs, like:

  1. Reference checks,
  2. Criminal history, and
  3. Credit reports.

If there is no unit available, but you agree to get screened any way, the landlord can charge you.

Yes. The landlord must also give you a notice before you pay that includes:

  1. The amount of the screening fee;
  2. How much rent and deposits you would pay; 
  3. If renters’ insurance is required, and if it is, the amount of insurance you must have;
  4. How the landlord will decide your application;
  5. Whether the landlord does the screening directly or hires a company to do it;
  6. Information about your right to contact the landlord’s screening company or credit reporting agency if you think the information the landlord got is wrong;
  7. A statement that says you can ask the landlord to reconsider if they do not approve your application; and
  8. Information about the landlord's nondiscrimination policy.

Yes. The landlord must also tell you about how many units are available and how many applicants are ahead of you.

If this happens and the landlord rents the unit to someone else first, the landlord must refund your money within a reasonable time.

If the landlord does not follow these rules, you can sue the landlord in Small Claims Court for the amount of the screening fee plus $100.

Yes, unless you rent week-to-week.

Your rental agreement should list the amount of your deposit. If you damage your unit, the landlord can use money from your security deposit to pay for the repairs.

Always get a receipt for everything you pay the landlord.

Yes, you can ask the landlord to:

  • Charge you a lower or no deposit, or
  • Let you make payments on the deposit.

You may also be able to get money for the deposit from a local charity or local housing authority.

No. Oregon law does not require landlords to pay interest on deposits or prepaid rent.

Yes, but there are rules the landlord must follow.

You and the landlord must have a written agreement about the holding deposit. The agreement must say:

  1. The amount of the holding deposit;
  2. The landlord will hold the place for you until a certain date;
  3. If you rent the place by that deadline, the landlord must refund your deposit immediately or credit it to what you owe the landlord;
  4. If you do not take steps to rent the place by the deadline, the landlord can keep the deposit; and
  5. If the landlord rents to someone else before the deadline, they must refund your deposit within four days.

If this happens, you can sue the landlord for the amount of the deposit plus $150 in Small Claims Court

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