In July 2021, Oregon implemented a ‘safe harbor period’ for nonpayment eviction cases to maintain some protections for tenants after the state eviction moratorium ended. The eviction diversion program is intended to delay eviction proceedings for tenants who have provided proof that they have applied for emergency rent assistance through the Oregon Emergency Rent Assistance Program (OERAP). The ‘safe harbor’ lasts for 60 to 90 days, a period meant to give enough time for funds from OERAP to be disbursed to the property owner for any rent owed, current and arrears, at which point they should return to court to have the case dismissed. If rent assistance has not been approved and paid, the eviction proceedings can resume.
Portland State University’s Evicted in Oregon research team examined stages of the eviction process to assess how knowledge, communication, and power affect eviction and tenant displacement. The PSU research team found that:
- Only 27% of tenants with nonpayment eviction cases got the ‘safe harbor’ setover (eviction postponement).
- 25% of cases ended in a default judgement against a tenant for failure to appear at one of their court dates.
- 10% of tenants made stipulated agreements without using the tenant protections available by law. Agreements included requiring tenants to repay current and/or back rent and included move-out dates that could have been prevented with the safe harbor law.
- 32.7% of nonpayment cases were dismissed and an eviction judgment was not rendered.