The “no-cause” notice.
By Jeffrey D. Goodwin, attorney at law
There are a variety of notices whereby one can terminate a landlord-tenant relationship in Oregon. The focus of this post is the so-called “no-cause” notice. This notice is presently under attack in the legislature, and is a constant source of aggravation and frustration for landlords and tenants alike. I have a rule I apply in my law practice, which I encourage all of my landlords to adopt. That rule is “no one kicks out a paying tenant without a reason.”
Accordingly, in my view, the no-cause notice should properly be called the “no-fault” notice. What a no-cause notice is really saying is, I am terminating your rental agreement and it is not your fault. You have not done anything wrong. There is no issue of non-payment of rent, there is no issue with misconduct or another violation of the rental agreement, I am simply ending this agreement because I choose to. This idea is abused so frequently by landlords that it is a constant source of litigation, and many landlords pay the price heavily to find out that use of a no-cause notice, when you have a real reason, an impermissible reason, is immoral, unlawful, and, typically, very expensive.
Many landlords think that because there is a statute authorizing use of a no-cause notice, they are empowered to kick anyone out at any time for any reason. That is simply not true, there are enough impermissible reasons that I could write a small book on them. That is why I encourage every landlord to not give a no-cause notice without the stated reason. If you can’t put the reason that you’re doing it on the notice, you should not be doing it. That is the law.
Change your thinking, don’t think of a no cause notice, think of a no-fault notice. The letter I frequently send accompanying a no-cause notice says exactly that, your rental agreement is ending, and it is not your fault. You have been a good tenant. The reason I am ending it is…
State the reason, every time, and state the truth. By putting the reason on the record, the real reason, at the start, you gain a significant advantage if you’re good tenant suddenly turns into a very bad tenant. Tenants have been known to raise retaliation claims, discrimination claims, and all manner of other claims, after they received a no-cause notice, simply because they don’t want to leave the property.
The web is full of advice on landlord-tenant law. Your reading some right now. A tenant who does not want to leave can very quickly Google search and find information about ways they can cause trouble for their landlord, but most of the time, bad faith attempts to do so, after receipt of a notice, are substantially or completely undermined by the fact that you gave the real truthful reason for the notice when you gave it.
If you have to go to court, you will prove that it was your genuine reason. It was not retaliation, it was not discrimination. To say it again, if you can’t give the reason, don’t give the notice.
Because of the amount of abuse of no cause notices, the legislature is currently contemplating taking away this right from landlords; it’s a bad idea, but it may well happen. Generally speaking, you can give a notice if you need someone to vacate. But, I do not encourage a landlord to take any further action, including filing a complaint, without consulting with a landlord-tenant lawyer.
If a tenant doesn’t vacate on a notice, or if you have questions about the law, contact a competent attorney, and get answers before you make a mistake. The landlord-tenant law is full of traps for the unwary, don’t step into one. Remember, a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
~Jeffrey D. Goodwin
March 2, 2017
Nothing in this post is intended as a substitute for competent legal advice. The law is constantly changing, and everyone’s circumstances are unique. If you have a legal situation and need assistance you should consult an attorney skilled in this area of practice, and licensed to practice law in your state. For more information about whether and how our office can help you visit the following page or call our office at 541-257-8585: