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Sam_Iamaduckfan

Retaliation by landlord?

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I have recently received a termination of tenancy with no shown case from my property management company. I am planning on filing a small claims suit against them for retaliation by landlord but I would like to find out if my claims are founded and if my damages are appropriate. Here's what happened:

 

We live on a large property surrounded by trees, shrubs and big hay fields. In our lease we are responsible for caring for the yard maintenance, everything except tree and shrub maintenance. This is there responsibility. I have been asking for 2 and half years for the trees and shrubs to be taken care of because they are becoming large and over grown with some growing on to the house. I have this request in an email from a year ago stating it had been a year but no other evidence (my requests have been verbal). Two weeks ago a five started on the property in a brush pile while we weren't home, the fire dept cited that it was spontaneous combustion. The trees fueled this fire and many of them were destroyed. Thankfully the house was ok. When the property manager came to look at the damage (did not give 24 hrs notice) we got into an argument about the trees and told her that I wanted them taken care of immediately and expressed my dissatisfaction that it had not been addressed in years. I told her I wanted proper notice for the maintenance unlike todays visit. Her exact words were "you'll get your notice" two days later I received the notice of termination. I think this is to cover her bee-hind to the owner. We have lived in this home over 3 years with no other issues and never been late with rent. There would be no other reason for the termination other than the unkept trees that are no ruined due to the fire. On top of this she has supplied me with an altered copy of our lease (she altered) and I have the original which shows the copy she gave me was not the same thing my husband and I signed 3 years ago. As well as I feel she has violated my right to peaceful possession by coming on the property 2 times unannounced (one of which I have email proof of) and the 3rd time without proper notice after the fire.

 

So my question is do I have a case? What are my damages considered? I am planning to ask for my full security deposit returned of $3450 and move out costs. I had a moving company supply me with an estimate for moving our home and it in $7200. I plan on asking for my state maximum of $10000 and seeing if I can get an extension on the 60 day notice.

 

Please let me know if I am in line? I tried reaching out for the modest means program through the Oregon State Bar but we don't qualify and I don't know if this is worth paying a local lawyer $200 for a consultation.

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I don't believe you are.  What are the terms of your lease or are you now on a month to month.  If you are on a month to month, they can terminate you with 60 days notice.  You are entitled to the return of your deposit minus any reasonable expenses.  A retaliatory eviction (if available in Oregon) involves retaliation for reporting to government agency not reporting to the landlord or his agent.  I don't believe you are entitled to move out costs.  You need to read up on Oregon's landlord tenant statute to understand your rights and responsibilities and the landlord rights and responsibilities.

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Thank you for your response doucar, this is what I have.....

 

(1) Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services, by serving a notice to terminate the tenancy or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after:

(a) The tenant has complained to, or expressed to the landlord in writing an intention to complain to, a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of any of the following concerning a violation applicable to the tenancy:

(A) A building, health or housing code materially affecting health or safety;

B Laws or regulations concerning the delivery of mail; or

© Laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination in rental housing;

b The tenant has made any complaint to the landlord that is in good faith and related to the tenancy;

© The tenant has organized or become a member of a tenants union or similar organization;

(d) The tenant has testified against the landlord in any judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding;

(e) The tenant successfully defended an action for possession brought by the landlord within the previous six months except if the tenant was successful in defending the action only because

 

 

I am looking at b The tenant has made any complaint to the landlord that is in good faith and related to the tenancy. This is ORS 90.385 - It says it does not have to be to a government agency.

 

We are on a month ot month lease.

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If you're on a month-to-month lease, the landlord doesn't need cause to terminate the tenancy.  All the landlord needs to do is give notice.  If you believe the landlord gave the termination notice in violation of ORS 90.385(1)(B), you're free not to move out, in which case the landlord presumably will seek to evict you, and you can raise the alleged retaliation as an affirmative defense on which you'll have the burden of proving that the eviction was retaliatory.  Beyond that, ORS 90.385(3) states that, "If the landlord acts in violation of subsection (1) of this section the tenant is entitled to the remedies provided in ORS 90.375 and has a defense in any retaliatory action against the tenant for possession." so read ORS 90.375 and act accordingly.

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So if I understand what your saying, I need to abide by ouster and exclusion, if I feel that my situation falls under retaliation. My question is do you think my situation falls under retaliation? And if I roll the dice and wait for an eviction. If I lose, what is my time frame for moving out at that point? I have a rather large house with many things (2 little boys = lots of things) to move. I am trying to weigh my risks. Also, can I sue before the fact??? I keep trying to find an attorney to help me but many aren't interseted in small claims (the buck stops there) or only consults. Thank you for any help I can get.

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So if I understand what your saying, I need to abide by ouster and exclusion, if I feel that my situation falls under retaliation.

 

I certainly didn't write that, and this isn't a reasonable inference from anything I did write.

 

 

 

My question is do you think my situation falls under retaliation?

 

I don't have any idea.  Determining whether or not the landlord served the eviction notice in order to retaliate requires forming a conclusion about the landlord's state of mind, and I have no factual basis for doing that.  It might be that the service of an eviction notice within X days after the tenant has "complain[ed] to the landlord . . . in good faith and related to the tenancy" will be presumed to be retaliatory and the landlord will have the burden of proving a non-retaliatory motivaction.  One would need to research case law regarding ORS 90.385 to see if that's the case.

 

 

 

And if I roll the dice and wait for an eviction. If I lose, what is my time frame for moving out at that point?

 

I don't know, but I imagine it will be relatively short (it might be that the answer can be found in Chapter 90 of the ORS).

 

 

 

can I sue before the fact?

 

Sue for what?  In any event, anyone can sue anyone for anything.

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