Oregon law [ORS 90.767] requires that MHP and Marina landlords participate in mediation to try to resolve certain tenant complaints or concerns. When a MHP or Marina tenant or landlord has an issue that they would like to resolve without the courts, the landlord or tenant may initiate free Mandatory Mediation which requires the other party to participate. The landlord and tenant are not required to reach an agreement or resolve their issue, but they both must participate and listen to each other which can foster an understanding and build a relationship. Note: Mediation is also available for disputes between tenants.
The program has been tracking metrics since the program began in 2020 and, so far, indicates that many residents are satisfied with the results. This can be an effective tool to settle a wide range of disputes (unfortunately, the law does not allow mediation over high rents). Tenants associations may request Mandatory Mediation with their landlord as well. The landlord can send anyone they choose to represent them as long as that person has authority to make decisions related to the issue at the time of the mediation. The resident can also bring someone to accompany them. These discussions can take place in person or on zoom. Mediation can be requested by calling the state hotline at the MMCRC (Manufactured and Marina Communities Resource Center).
According to data from the state MMCRC, residents of manufactured home parks and marinas appear to be generally satisfied with the mediation process. We have two sets of data that help us look at what’s happening in Oregon. In 2022, MMCRC reported that 60% of participants said their dispute was resolved. Almost all participants said they would do it again and recommend the process to others. Among 48 resident evaluations:
- 29 reported “dispute resolved” (60%)
- 15 reported “no” for resolution
- 46 or 47 reported they would go to mediation again, would recommend it to others and that it “improved communication” (96%)
An August 2023 report shows that during a two-year period from 2021 to 2023, 495 residents and landlord representatives participated in mediation. Most of the cases (63%) were initiated by a resident, not a landlord. Most (80%) were scheduled within 30 days, and most took place in-person. Only 13% were on zoom.
Some cases (13%) were resolved at “intake”. These cases were likely resolved when the resident was first interviewed by the state MMCRC office or the mediator. The 2023 report indicates that almost 70% of cases were totally or partially resolved in mediation.
Mediations topics were on a variety of issues:
26% – Rule violations
24%- Unpaid rent
11%- Neighbor issues
If a landlord refuses to participate in mediation, the law [ORS 90.767(10)] entitles the tenant to one month’s rent and a defense against the related claim in a court. For example, if a landlord serves a tenant a termination notice for violating a rule, and the tenant believes that the landlord is mistaken or that there is a reasonable reason that the tenant broke the rule and/or cannot cure the offense in the time allotted for the cure, then the tenant could initiate Mandatory Mediation to attempt to resolve the issue before a court date. If the landlord doesn’t participate and if the uncured violation results in a court hearing, then the tenant should let the judge know that they tried to work out the issue but the landlord violated the law by refusing to participate in Mandatory Mediation.
This is an incredible tool for facility tenants. By law, Mandatory Mediation requires the landlord to listen to the tenant and can help pause an eviction hearing timeline in order to grant the tenant and landlord valuable negotiation time to try to come up with a soltuion on their own.
There doesn’t seem to be evidence that tenant associations are using Mandatory Mediation. Remember, this is a potential tool to bring a skilled mediator to the table with you and your landlord! OSTA Directors serve on the Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee that helps advise Oregon Housing and Communicty Services about the program and we will continue to review this program and keep members updated.
For more information on Mandatory Mediation and ORS 90.767, go to our website information.
If you have an issue you’d like to mediate with your landlord and would like to know if your issue is eligible for free Mandatory Mediation or what the process looks like, please visit the MMCRC’s Mandatory Mediation page.