You wouldn’t think that a law regarding driver’s licenses could affect landlords, but it can and does.
This past February, the Oregon Legislature passed bill SB1080, a law preventing illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses. Now only those with proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent legal status will be able to obtain or renew a license, permit or identification card. Those who can’t produce a social security number, proof of identity and an Oregon address, as well as verification of immigration status, will be kept from getting these vital documents.
This could significantly impact landlords, who while not often illegal immigrants, regularly rent to them. Without a driver’s license or proof of identity, the renters will be unable to work and thus unable to pay rent. Entire communities of Russian, Chinese, Korean and Hispanic immigrants will be immobilized. Some will return to their countries while others look for more lenient states, such as Texas.
Texas, already a home for illegal immigrants leaving Arizona and Oklahoma, will likely see a flux of Oregon immigrants. They will be looking to rent, which accounts for the recent rise in rental opportunities. Real Estate investors are being given one more reason to look to Texas for investment property by this Oregon Law.
Oregon conditions will render background checks, credit checks and references nearly impossible to obtain. Every lease the landlord has signed will be a chance he is taking that could easily backfire.This effort will force the rental market into a gambling market for many housing investors.
There is still time to prepare for this change, as the complete bill won’t go in to effect until 2009, but it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. Prepare for the inevitable, and when you rent, rent smart. Take the time to review what you are able, and obtain references both personal and previous landlords, while it is still possible.