Hickey v. ScottAnnotate this Case
In October 2019, defendants rented an apartment from plaintiff pursuant to a month-to-month tenancy rental agreement. The parties’ agreement required defendants to pay a $1,500 security deposit and $850 a month in rent. When defendants moved in, they personally paid $525 toward their October rent, and, a short time later, the Siletz Tribal Housing Department (STHD) paid plaintiff $1,500 on defendants’ behalf. No further payments were made. On December 17, 2019, plaintiff issued to defendants a written notice for nonpayment of rent and intent to terminate (“termination notice”). The notice stated that defendants owed $1,700 in unpaid rent: $850 for rent in October, and $850 for rent in November. Further, the notice advised defendants that the rental agreement would be terminated if not received by December 27, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Defendants did not pay any amount, and plaintiff filed an FED action on December 30, 2019. At trial, defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the overpayment by SHTD, coupled with the amount they personally paid at the start of the lease, still left defendants owing and unpaid. Furthermore, defendants argued plaintiff did not properly account for the amounts of money he received, and was not specific as to the actual amounts due in the notice. The trial court ultimately ruled in favor of plaintiff. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed, finding that ORS 90.394(3) required that a notice of termination for nonpayment of rent had to specify the correct amount due to cure the default. When the notice states an incorrect amount that is greater than the amount actually due, the notice is invalid, and any subsequent FED action relying on that notice is likewise invalid and requires dismissal. The Court reversed the contrary decisions of both the trial and appellate courts.