Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon

This is a discussion on Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; I have poured over the updates to the Landlord/Tenant laws in Oregon and am confused and amazed. We entered into ...

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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 02:58 AM   #1
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Confused Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon

I have poured over the updates to the Landlord/Tenant laws in Oregon and am confused and amazed.

We entered into a one year, signed lease contract with a renter on 7/8/10. Rent was $650 a month, including all utilities, and a $300 security/cleaning deposit.

On 12/11/10 the renter sent an email saying he cannot pay the rent and has an opportunity to open a gallery in a nearby small town (4 miles away). He continued to say that he would be out by the end of the month and he was sorry he had no money to pay the rent, but would try if he was able to earn anything. (We didn't say much, I mean what do you do?)

He then proceeded to move out all his things and was out by 12/16/10. (We live on the property as well, so could see the rental house from ours). On 12/17/10 he returned to "clean", then knocked on our door to do a walk through.

Now, before he moved in we took before photos of everything in the house. It was sparkling clean, that's how we do things. We allowed him to have one cat, and we did not charge a pet deposit. During his time here he brought in another cat without our approval. Once we discovered the cat, we did not say anything.

But, during the walk through I looked at the kitchen sink and the black gunk in the bottom, and the sink wasn't even wiped out. I then looked in the oven which is filthy...and he sprayed it with oven cleaner but did not wipe any of it out. I looked around a bit more....then told him that it really needed to be clean as when he moved in. He did not take that very well and stated he did the best he could with paper towels and that's all he had. I was silent, then stated I expected it to be cleaned. He agreed to get cleaning supplies from his folks and come back the next day to clean. Upon looking at the rest of the house, the toilet was black and cat hair stuck all over it. The entire place was dirty, the new curtains in the bedroom are ruined because of the cats as well as major scratches on one bedside table. (The house is rented furnished).

Today I get an email from him, and I quote: "
I am getting the impression, hopefully mistaken, that you are not going to be happy with most any cleaning job I do. I am sorry that I overlooked some things, others are general wear and tear and to be expected. The computer chair is of course a mistake and I will return it very soon.

I will not be over today, to be honest I am a little hurt and frustrated by your comment "I don't want to come out here and spend hours cleaning". You are a landlord Robin, that is why we renters pay a cleaning deposit. Many renters just leave the keys on the counter and walk away... as a renter I am doing everything in my power to make up for leaving so abruptly.

As for not costing much to clean.... I don't have it. I need to focus on making money to alleviate my debts.

If I have time and money after this weekend I will come by."


Ok, so now I am mad! I am sorry this post is so long, but want it to be as complete as possible.


Oregon laws are weird and seem to be completely FOR the tenant, not the landlord. Apparently the way I read the 2010 updated laws, the tenant has the right to break the lease with a 30 day notice, but as I read it, IF we cannot find a tenant, then the tenant is liable for 1 and 1/2 times the rent, plus I can keep the security deposit to go towards unpaid rent. According to Oregon law, landlords cannot charge a cleaning fee anymore!! (??)


I am advertising for a tenant, but I don't hold any hopes this time of year. But if I don't find a tenant can I take this one to small claims and charge him this months rent, plus 1 1/2 times the rent....minus the security deposit he paid on move in? Can I charge for cleaning? Can I charge something for the damage? Can I charge for the computer chair he removed from the rental that was not his to take?


Do I now have to wait in case he comes back to clean at some point in time, or can I go ahead and clean it so I can show it to prospective tenants?


I don't want to sound mean....but he has disappointed us and needs to be responsible with the lease, rent that's late, cleaning and damage.


Thanks for any help you can give us.

PS, I edited so I could add that he gave us the keys already, he did not keep them in order to get back in and clean any more.....

Last edited by twinrocks; Dec 19th, 2010 at 03:04 AM. Reason: Needed to add the part about giving us the keys already.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 08:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon

I wish to inform you that as tenant has terminated lease before due date therefore he was liable for breach of contract. In this regard you may claim damages which you have suffered because of early termination of lease.Further the amount of damage which your property has suffered because of acts of your tenant may also be claimed and deducted from the security deposit which you may be having.

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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 12:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon

I know this is an old thread, but I will comment anyway after having been burned enough times by tenants.

It appears the website reply to your question was that the tenant was in breach on contract. All I can say to that is "Whoopity-doo" because that fact doesn't pay for damages or get the place clean. Actually there is not much you can do in a situation as you describe. You can try to sue, but if the person has no money or assets that you can take, then you're out of luck. Tenants can also hide their assets where no lawyer or collection agency will find it. And trust me, the government will not help you, not the police or the sheriff as you are far too low on their priority list and also there's this whole privacy thing that makes it nearly impossible to find someone if they want to skip out on a debt. The best thing to do is, in the future, try to avoid getting stuck and also try to avoid the lawsuit scenario. So how do you do that?

The best way to go is to have a significant deposit to cover cleaning and damages. The security deposit should be at least 90% of a month's rent. $300 was way too low. We have begun charging a deposit equal to about 6 weeks of rent. To soften the blow we point out to tenants that we are not charging last month rent up front. Never allow a tenant to say that the deposit is last month's rent as this consumes most of the deposit and leaves nothing left to cover cleaning and repairs. We charge 6 weeks because we once had a tenant give a 30 day notice and tell us he couldn't pay the last month rent. The best we could do was start eviction which still lets the tenant live there for at least 3 weeks. Therefore we charge a high deposit so that an unpaid last month still leaves money to pay for cleaning and repairs (hopefully).

You should also charge an extra deposit for pets, like a minimum of $400-500 although pets can do way more damage than that in a short time (holes and odors in carpets, clawed door mouldings and weatherstripping, chewed up items). We finally decided to not permit pets at all. If a tenant violates your agreement, you can't remain silent -- you must immediately give them a notice to correct the problem or else (1) they must move out, or (2) you will fix the problem and bill them. Even though our ad says NO PETS people still ask. One time we jokingly said "OK, for a $1000 pet deposit" and people were willing to pay it. Don't be afraid to ask for a deposit.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2012, 12:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Recourse for tenant breaking lease - Oregon

I have noticed that last first and last months rent have changed to a deposit. This gives the owner more money when the tenant moves out. I am sure most people are honest , but many keep more than it costs to clean and document a higher cost. I paid a carpet cleaner and a service to clean and the landlord still charged me money. I agree, that the landlord should be covered, but as a tenant I have seen the landlord hold deposit money way over the amount it took to clean. I know a friend that is a landlord and took a class that taught him to keep as much of the deposit as possible. (nice)

I do not think owners have more rights as my landlord shows up without notice all the time and does not fix anything (bad deck rotten, AC broken will not fix took an act of congress to get her to send an exterminator for a ant problem) Only recourse I have is to report her and they require written documentation and multiple violations and still will most likely do nothing.
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