Oregon Statutes - Chapter 90 - Residential Landlord and Tenant - Section 90.315 - Utility or service payments; additional charges; responsibility for utility or service; remedies.

(1) As used in this section, ďutility or serviceĒ includes but is not limited to electricity, natural or liquid propane gas, oil, water, hot water, heat, air conditioning, cable television, direct satellite or other video subscription service, Internet access or usage, sewer service and garbage collection and disposal.

(2) The landlord shall disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy any utility or service that the tenant pays directly to a utility or service provider that benefits, directly, the landlord or other tenants. A tenantís payment for a given utility or service benefits the landlord or other tenants if the utility or service is delivered to any area other than the tenantís dwelling unit.

(3) If the landlord knowingly fails to disclose those matters required under subsection (2) of this section, the tenant may recover twice the actual damages sustained or one monthís rent, whichever is greater.

(4)(a) Except for tenancies covered by ORS 90.505 to 90.840, if a written rental agreement so provides, a landlord may require a tenant to pay to the landlord a utility or service charge that has been billed by a utility or service provider to the landlord for utility or service provided directly to the tenantís dwelling unit or to a common area available to the tenant as part of the tenancy. A utility or service charge that shall be assessed to a tenant for a common area must be described in the written rental agreement separately and distinctly from such a charge for the tenantís dwelling unit. Unless the method of allocating the charges to the tenant is described in the tenantís written rental agreement, the tenant may require that the landlord give the tenant a copy of the providerís bill as a condition of paying the charges.

(b) A utility or service charge shall include only the value or cost of the utility or service as billed to the landlord by the provider as described in this subsection, except that a landlord may add an additional amount to that value or cost if:

(A) The utility or service charge to which the additional amount is added is for cable television, direct satellite or other video subscription service or for Internet access or usage;

(B) The additional amount added to the utility or service charge of each tenant is not more than 10 percent of the charge to that tenant for cable television, direct satellite or other video subscription service or Internet access or usage;

(C) The total of the utility or service charge plus the additional amount is less than the typical periodic cost that the tenant would incur if the tenant contracted for the cable television, direct satellite or other video subscription service or the Internet access or usage directly with the provider; and

(D) The written rental agreement providing for the utility or service charge describes the additional amount separately and distinctly from the charge itself and any bill or notice from the landlord to the tenant regarding the charge lists the additional amount separately and distinctly from the utility or service charge.

(c) A landlord may not require an existing tenant to modify a rental agreement, or terminate the tenancy of the tenant for refusing to modify a rental agreement, to obligate the tenant to pay an additional amount for cable television, direct satellite or other video subscription service or Internet access or usage as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection.

(d) A utility or service charge, including any additional amount added pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subsection, is not rent or a fee. Nonpayment of a utility or service charge is not grounds for termination of a rental agreement for nonpayment of rent under ORS 90.394 but is grounds for termination of a rental agreement for cause under ORS 90.392.

(e) If a landlord fails to comply with paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of this subsection, the tenant may recover from the landlord an amount equal to one monthís periodic rent or twice the amount wrongfully charged to the tenant, whichever is greater.

(5)(a) If a tenant, under the rental agreement, is responsible for a utility or service and is unable to obtain the service prior to moving into the premises due to a nonpayment of an outstanding amount due by a previous tenant or the owner, the tenant may either:

(A) Pay the outstanding amount and deduct the amount from the rent;

(B) Enter into a mutual agreement with the landlord to resolve the lack of service; or

(C) Immediately terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord actual notice and the reason for the termination.

(b) If the tenancy terminates, the landlord shall return all moneys paid by the tenant as deposits, rent or fees within four days after termination.

(6) If a tenant, under the rental agreement, is responsible for a utility or service and is unable to obtain the service after moving into the premises due to a nonpayment of an outstanding amount due by a previous tenant or the owner, the tenant may either:

(a) Pay the outstanding amount and deduct the amount from the rent; or

(b) Terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord actual notice 72 hours prior to the date of termination and the reason for the termination. The tenancy does not terminate if the landlord restores service or the availability of service during the 72 hours. If the tenancy terminates, the tenant may recover actual damages from the landlord resulting from the shutoff and the landlord shall return:

(A) Within four days after termination, all rent and fees; and

(B) All of the security deposit owed to the tenant under ORS 90.300.

(7) If a landlord, under the rental agreement, is responsible for a utility or service and the utility or service is shut off due to a nonpayment of an outstanding amount, the tenant may either:

(a) Pay the outstanding balance and deduct the amount from the rent; or

(b) Terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord actual notice 72 hours prior to the date of termination and the reason for the termination. The tenancy does not terminate if the landlord restores service during the 72 hours. If the tenancy terminates, the tenant may recover actual damages from the landlord resulting from the shutoff and the landlord shall return:

(A) Within four days after termination, all rent prepaid for the month in which the termination occurs prorated from the date of termination or the date the tenant vacates the premises, whichever is later, and any other prepaid rent; and

(B) All of the security deposit owed to the tenant under ORS 90.300.

(8) If a landlord fails to return to the tenant the moneys owed as provided in subsection (5), (6) or (7) of this section, the tenant shall be entitled to twice the amount wrongfully withheld.

(9) This section does not preclude the tenant from pursuing any other remedies under this chapter. [Formerly 91.767; 1993 c.786 §2; 1995 c.559 §14; 1997 c.577 §16; 1999 c.603 §18; 2005 c.391 §19]

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Last modified: August 7, 2008