This the first (1) part of a six-part (6) discussion of how to obtain A MODEL LEGAL SYSTEM in a town near you. Sixty bulletinsfromaloha articles below have outlined how our legal system is shot. This discussion began in an article below dated October 1, 2008. That discussion first posed the question of whether: We should jettison the law what is and replace it with law that is simply stated on all subjects, predictable and easily available to anyone including ordinary citizens; not just convenient and understandable to lawyers.
A LAW PROBLEM CHILD -- LANDLORD- TENANT LAW: A perfect arena to discuss what is and what should be in the law is Landlord-Tenant law. This area of the law touches all of us; who has not lived in an apartment or other rental at some time of their lives. It isn't just the poor tenants that need to know how to deal with the landlord; the reverse is also a problem. There are many struggling low-income or middle income citizens who own a rental or two, but have no idea how to deal with the tenant on late payments nor eviction. A good place to get a feel of the scary dynamics between the simple tenant and the simple landlord is ‘eviction' court and there is one near you in any medium and larger size city. They are a zoo because neither the tenants nor the landlords know what is going on nor their actual duties and rights because the law is not understandable nor usable to either party to the relationship.
Let's first discuss what landlord-tenant law is in Oregon. It is a mess!
The residential landlord-tenant relationship in Oregon is governed by Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 90. Well, not quite. It is also governed by Chapter 91 which is the law of Tenancy. Is that it? Nooooooo. The actual key to the relationship in terms of eviction is Chapter 105 which is entitled "Property Rights". So, who would have thought that residential landlord-tenant law for eviction would actually be found under Chapter 105 "Property Rights" and not in the Oregon Statute entitled "Residential Landlord-Tenant", Chapter 90?
Not so fast Philo, you aren't there yet. The actual ‘eviction' law is not found either in Chapter 90, Residential Landlord-Tenant law, nor in Chapter 105, Property Rights. Rather, ‘eviction' law is found in Chapter 105.105 and what is that law called? Give up? It is called "Forcible Entry and Detainer". And oddly enough nowhere in this statutory language is the word ‘eviction' used even though this is the eviction chapter of Oregon law.
Finally, Chapter 90, "Residential Landlord and Tenant law" is so complicated and so convoluted that few lawyers chose to tread in that court because there are more surprises, potholes and horse puckery than at the gunfight at the OK corral.
IS THERE A SOLUTION? Yes, and it is right before our eyes. The Oregon Law Commission is charged with identifying laws and legal processes that need revision and improvement. The Oregon Law Commission is attached to Willamette Law School, is made up of stellar members of the Oregon legal profession and is chaired by Lane P. Shetterly of Dallas Oregon, a former legislator. There are other resources. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Michael Marcus wrote a comprehensive self-help book on landlord-tenant law in Oregon. Then there are Wall and Colby..............
Nowhere in the law is a more perfect example of the need to jettison what is and replace it with law that is understandable to the regular citizens, predictable to those who use it most and generally available than in the area of landlords and tenants. This could be one small piece of A Model Legal System. It is needed, it is practical and doable. One person can effect change.