#TenantTipTuesday: Researching Your Landlord

Landlords are notoriously good at screening their tenants. They’ve got money and background checks at their disposal. Renters? Not so much. But the good news is you can research your landlord, and you should.

Who owns the property?

Sometimes it’s not entirely clear who the landlord is. Sometimes the person picking up the check or coming over to fix things will claim to not be the landlord, only to avoid unfavorable personal interactions. Landlords will sometimes claim to be assistants, managers, or repairmen. Other times, landlords will refuse to reveal their identities, hiding behind LLCs. You have the power to find out. We’ve got some places for you to hone in on those investigative skills.

County Tax Assessors Office

Everyone’s got to pay taxes, right? Use this as a starting point. Try looking up the property address at the County Tax Assessor’s office. In Multnomah County, the number is 503.988.3326. You can also find addresses of other properties the landlord might own in the county. Call the State Corporate Division to find out who is involved in the ownership and what the business address is at 503.986.2200 or scope out their website.

Bureau of Development Services

You can write to the Bureau of Development Services in the City of Portland to find out if there have been code violations reported at the property. If your landlord has rented to you without repair the code violations, you may be entitled to certain damages. There is a $5 charge for this mail service. They will find the information and send it out to you within two business days. However, you can do this for free online. Go to portlandmaps.com, and you’ll be able to research code violations at the entered address by selecting the “permits/cases” button at the top of the screen. This will also show you the specific details of the complaint.
Check to see if your city offers a similar online or mailing service – you might be surprised.

State and County Court Records

Make use of your local and regional court record systems. You can get information on lawsuits involving the owner from County Court Records. In Multnomah County, the number is 503.988.3022. You can also get other legal information from the civil, district, and small claims court records.
You can also look up the person’s statewide records through the Oregon Judicial Department Online Records Search.

Oregon Real Estate Agency

The Oregon Real Estate Agency licenses property managers and management companies in Oregon. People and companies that only manage properties (mot owners that manage their own property) need to be licensed. To qualify to be licensed, property managers must pass an exam that covers laws and administrative rules, and must satisfy continuing education requirements. You can contact them to find out a number of things!
  • Figure out if a property manager or management company is licensed by calling 503.378.4170, then pressing 4.
  • Investigate complaint histories against a licensed property manager or company by calling 503.378.4170, then pressing 2. Note: The agency handles complaints that deal with financial mismanagement only. They don’t deal with deposit return disputes, unless the dispute is over a “missing” deposit.

Neighborhood Associations

Odds are if there’s a group of people who care about a neighborhood and manage it, they’ll know who is doing business in the area. You can find out if you have a local neighborhood association and what their contact information is by calling the Office of Neighborhood Associations at 503.823.4519.

Other tenants

If you live in a building, talk to your neighbors. Figure out what they know. Make use of the information you can gather collectively. There are a number of private Facebook groups that allow for people to discuss or share landlord information. Message our page to get more information on who might be organizing near you.

Got more questions? We’ve got more answers.