Relocation assistance is a huge help for low income families who find themselves facing an urgent or unexpected move. At Low Income Relief, we have heard from countless families who struggled to find the resources to secure new housing and move their belongings. That’s why we were so excited to discover Portland’s unique Relocation Assistance program!
What is Relocation Assistance?
Mandatory Renter Relocation Assistance reduces the hardships renters face when they have to move. Portland, Oregon, enacted this program to help renters who face specific no-fault hardships. Landlords pay this amount to qualifying renters.
The current rates are:
- $2,900 for a studio or one-room occupancy
- $3,300 for a 1 bedroom unit
- $4,200 for a 2 bedroom unit
- $4,500 for a 3+ bedroom unit
Who is eligible for Relocation Assistance?
This program is available to renters in Portland who experience any of these no-fault hardship events:
- No-cause eviction (or a qualified landlord reason for termination)
- Rent increase of 10% or more over 12 months
- Substantial change in lease terms
- No option to renew the lease
Most rental units within Portland city limits are covered by this program. This program covers month-to-month and fixed-lease units. It also covers units that are managed by the owner, a sub-lessor or a property management company.
Who is not eligible for this program?
There are some circumstances that are not covered by this program. If you meet one of these exemption criteria, your landlord can apply for an exemption so they don’t have to pay you.
Short-term and temporary rentals do not qualify.
For example, these benefits are not available to people who are renting on a week-to-week basis. Similarly, landlords do not have to pay if they are temporarily renting out their primary residence for less than 3 years or while they are serving in active military service.
Certain low income housing units do not qualify.
If you have a housing voucher and you’re renting a private dwelling unit, then you are probably covered by this program.
However, if you are renting a unit that is regulated or certified as affordable housing by a government agency, the landlord may not have to pay for your move due to a rent increase. The landlord is exempt as long as (1) the rent increase does not increase the tenant’s portion of the rent by 10% or more during a rolling 12-month period or (2) the rent is periodically recalculated based on the tenant’s income or other program requirements.
If the landlord lives on the property, they can probably get an exemption.
You will not be eligible if you live in the same unit as the landlord. If you are renting half of a duplex and the landlord lives in the other half, you are not eligible for this assistance. This is also true for people who occupy an Accessory Dwelling Unit at the landlord’s home.
There are other circumstances that can result in an exemption, too.
Landlords who only rent or lease out one unit in the City of Portland are generally exempt from this program.
Dwelling units that are rendered uninhabitable due to the Landlord or Tenant’s action or inaction don’t qualify. For example, if there is a fire, Relocation Assistance probably will not be available.
If you have been renting for less than six months and the landlord obtained a demolition permit before your tenancy, they don’t have to pay your relocation assistance. If the landlord notified you of their intent to sell the property before you signed a lease, they don’t have to pay either.
How do I get help from the Relocation Assistance program?
Your landlord is required to pay for Relocation Assistance as long as you are eligible.
If you are served with a rent increase notice that will increase your rent by more than 10 percent over the a rolling 12-month period, then you will need to respond with a written notice to vacate within 14 days. Within 14 days of receiving your notice to vacate, the landlord must pay you the Relocation Assistance rate.
What happens if my landlord refuses?
Landlords who refuse to comply with these requirements can be held liable in court. They may be forced to pay the tenant an amount three times the monthly rent, plus the Relocation Assistance amount, actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs!