Reasonable Rules in Parks and Marinas

2020-12-19T18:31:57-08:00December 19th, 2020|

Park and Marina Rules Govern How Residents Use Their Space

A landlord of a manufactured dwelling park or floating home marina must have written rules and regulations about how tenants use the rented space and park or marina facilities, and they must be attached to the Statement of Policy given to tenants when they move in. Rules and regulations are considered to be a part of the rental agreement (which also must be in writing).

These rules and regulations do not need to be the same for all tenants at all times, so long as the rules are applied fairly.

What Kind of Rules Are Enforcable?

Because a violation of the rules and regulations may be cause for termination of a rental agreement, the law places the following limits on the kinds of rules the landlord can enforce.  The law states that a park or marina rule or regulation is only enforceable against the tenant if the rule or regulation:

  1. Promotes the convenience, safety or welfare of the tenants;

  2. Preserves the landlord’s property from abusive use; or

  3. Makes a fair distribution of services and facilities held out for the general use of the tenants.

If the rule does not serve at least one of these reasons, the law says that the rule is not enforceable against a tenant.

Additionally, each rule must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. The rule must be reasonably related to the purpose for which it is adopted, and it must be reasonably applied.
  2. The rule must be clear enough to inform the tenant fairly of what he or she must do or not do.
  3. The landlord may not impose the rule in order to avoid the landlord’s obligations under the law.

Different Rules for Different Tenants

These criteria allow your landlord some leeway in making and enforcing rules differently for different tenants. For example, a landlord can have different rules for new tenants who move into the facility. The old rules might allow woodpiles in the carport or kayak storage on the decks for existing tenants, while the new rules for new tenants do not.

In addition, state and federal anti-discrimination laws require landlords to make reasonable accommodations to rules to afford tenants with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling, so, for example, your landlord might allow a tenant who uses a wheelchair to have special parking privileges or a tenant to have a service animal when pets are not allowed.

When a Landlord Surrenders Their Right to Enforce a Valid Rule

A landlord may waive his or her right to enforce a rule, by accepting performance by the tenant that varies from the terms of the rule or by accepting rent for at least three months while knowing that the tenant is not complying with the rule, such as by having a prohibited pet. In other words, if your landlord is aware that you are violating a certain rule and accepts your rent payments for 3 months while the rule is being broken, then your landlord no longe rhas the right to enforce the rule or terminate your tenancy for breaking the rule.

Note, that when this happens, it is important to have evidence to support your claim that your landlord was aware of the rule violation, otherwise, your landlord can later claim that they did not know anything about your violation of the rule when they accepted your rent payments.

When a Landlord Enforces the Rule

A landlord can avoid waiving a rule by giving the tenant a written warning notice. A facility landlord never waives the right to enforce a rule regarding maintenance of the dwelling or the space.

Other Types of Park and Marina Rules

Occupancy Limits

Manufactured dwelling and floating home facility landlords may also issue reasonable occupancy guidelines. If your landlord chooses to have such a rule about occupancy limits, the rule must be based on reasonable factors. Such factors may include the size of the dwelling and that of the rented space. Other reasonable factors to consider would be any discriminatory impact on groups legally protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status, source of income or disability, and limitations placed on utility services governed by a water or sewage permit. Any occupancy guideline may not be more restrictive than limiting occupancy to two people per bedroom of the dwelling.

For more information about the laws about occupancy limit rules, see ORS 90.510(7) by clicking here.

Rules About Pets

If your facility landlord changes the rules to no longer allow pets, you may keep a pet already legally living with you at the time your landlord provides notice of the rule change. Furthermore, you can replace the pet with a pet similar to the one living with you at the time the landlord provided notice of the proposed change.

However, new rules about the activities of pets — as opposed to rules prohibiting pets — apply to all pets in the facility, including those living in the facility before the new rule. Keep in mind that any new rule must meet the criteria described above.

If you entered into a rental agreement after Oct. 31, 1997, your facility landlord may not charge you extra for having a pet. However, tenants who own pets and start renting a facility space after that date may be required to sign a pet agreement and carry liability insurance for the pet.

A violation of the pet rules or keeping an unpermitted pet on the premises can result in an eviction (with a right to cure the first violation) and also can result in a fine or fee of $50 or more, for the second or subsequent violations after a written warning, per violation, if the violation relates to an unpermitted pet or pet waste and the pet agreement or the rules allow a fee for that.

For more information about the laws about pets in parks and marinas, see ORS 90.530 by clicking here.

Rule Violations and Fees

Violation of certain other rules or rental agreement provisions may also result in similar fines or fees for the second or subsequent violations, after a written warning. Examples include improper use of a vehicle on the premises (i.e., speeding) or late payment of a utility or service charge.

For more information about rule violation fees, see ORS 90.302 by clicking here.

The Law Prohibits Certain Kinds of Rules

In addition to setting limited and guidelines on the kinds of rules that landlords can enforce, the law also makes it clear which tenant activities a landlord cannot place unreasonable limitations on.

Rights of Tenants to Use the Common Areas

Tenants may use any common areas or facilities for any lawful activity, including tenant association meetings or tenant organizing. The landlord may impose reasonable restrictions on the time and manner of use, including requiring a deposit to ensure that the area is not damaged or left unclean. But the landlord may not require tenants to acquire a bond or insurance policy as a condition for using common areas or facilities in the park or marina.

For more information about the tenants’ rights to use common spaces, see ORS 90.528 by clicking here.

Rights of Tenants to Canvass, Organize, and Assemble

The law prohibits any park or marina rule, regulation, or rental agreement term from:

  • Infringing upon the right of tenants to peaceably assemble in an open public meeting for any lawful purpose
  • Infringing upon the right of tenants to communicate or assemble among themselves for the purpose of discussing any matter, including but not limited to any matter relating to the facility or manufactured dwelling or floating home living
  • Prohibiting any tenant from canvassing other persons in the same facility for purposes above, including door-to-door contact, an oral or written request, the distribution, the circulation, the posting or the publication of a notice or newsletter or a general announcement or any other matter relevant to the membership of a tenants’ association

While the landlord cannot limit these right to organize, the law states that assembling must be done in a a reasonable manner and at reasonable times between 8am and 10pm. The law allows for these discussions to be held in the common areas or recreational areas of the facility, including halls or centers, or any resident’s dwelling unit or floating home. The park or marina landlord, however, may enforce reasonable rules and regulations including but not limited to place, scheduling, occupancy densities and utilities.

However, the law does not state that the landlord must permit any person to solicit money, except that a tenants’ association member, whether or not a tenant of the facility, may personally collect delinquent dues owed by an existing member of a tenants’ association. The landlord is not required to ignore an individual tenant’s request not to be canvassed.

For more information about the tenants’ rights to organize and gather, see ORS 90.750 by clicking here.

Proposed Rule Change Process

A manufactured dwelling or floating home facility landlord may propose rule changes, including those that greatly change the original agreement with a tenant.

  • The landlord must simply give written notice of the rule or regulation change to all tenants in the facility not already subject to the proposed rule.
  • Unless a majority of tenants not already subject to the rule object in writing within 30 days of the date the notice was served, the change becomes effective for all tenants no less than 60 days after the date the notice was served by the landlord.
  • One tenant per rented space may object to the proposed rule change, either by an individual written objection to the landlord or by signing a petition with other tenants. Sometimes a tenant may sign more than one petition or sign a petition and file a separate objection. In such cases, the tenant’s most recent vote will count and the earlier ones will not.

The landlord’s notice must include:

  1. Language of the existing rule or regulation and the language that would be added or deleted by the proposed rule or regulation change, and
  2. A form or statement describing the tenant’s right to vote on the change and the voting timelines (per OS 90.610[6][b])

A park or marina landlord cannot email you the new rules, post them and tell you that they have unilaterally changes the rules, or publish new rules in a newsletter and begin enforcing them without first going through this voting procedure. (see note below for those tenants on fixed-term tenancies whose rules can change without a vote at the time that their current fixed-term lease expires)

Specific List of Rule Changes Which Are Permitted Without a Vote

Even though a landlord may not unilaterally change a rule or provision of the rental agreement, the law allows a few limited exceptions.  The landlord may, without a voting procedure make changes to the agreement to allow for the following:

  • Allow the landlord to both mail and post notices at the entrance of tenants’ spaces
  • Allow the landlord to charge fees to tenants for rules violations regarding only these reasons:
    • Utility late fees
    • Failure to clean up pet or service/companion animal waste
    • Failure to clean up garbage
    • Parking violations (exception: Marina landlronds may not charge a fee to tenants for parking violations.)
    • Improper use of vehicle
    • Smoking in a non-smoking area
    • Keeping on the premises an unauthorized pet capable of causing damage to persons or property, as described in ORS 90.405
  • Pets as described above
  • Conversion of garbage service to direct billing
  • Convert the method of billing for utilities to the pro-rata or sub-metering method
  • Remove hazard trees or access to the space to remove a hazard tree
  • Rent increases
  • To add the required Mandatory mediation language to the rental agreement
  • Changes required by state or local law

Sometimes landlords will seek to change the rules by offering the tenants a new rental agreement with new rules. Existing month-to-month tenants are not required to accept or sign this new agreement.

For more information about the tenants’ rights to vote on proposed rule changes, see ORS 90.610 by clicking here.

NOTE: If you are on a fixed term tenancy, your landlord may impose new rules (without allowing tenants to vote on the proposed changes) at the time the landlord is offering residents a new fixed term lease, if they offer it at least 60 days prior to the expiration of their current fixed term lease. For more information on the laws about new rules at the time of a fixed term lease expiration, see ORS 90.545 by clicking here.

You can find the actual Oregon laws about rules in ORS 90.510(6-8) and by clicking here.

(Note: This information is accurate as of the date of this post (November 2020). It is important to realize that changes may occur in this area of law. This information is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem, and it is not intended to replace the work of an attorney.)

(This post was reprinted from the OSTA Review, Winter 2017-18 edition, Volume 39 – Number 1, and originally written in February 2015 by John VanLandingham, attorney at law and legal editor, with minor formatting edits here to display better in a blog-post format or to aid in guiding our park and marina tenant audience in better understanding their rights. The original article can be found on the Oregon State Bar website by clicking here.)

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