SB 586 Requires Mandatory Mediation
Mandatory Mediation grew from the clear need for some sort of enforcement of the laws we’ve worked so hard to win over the decades. OSTA and tenants across the state were seeing a trend. Good laws existed but, with landlords who refused to comply with the law, it left tenants with no other choice than to surrender their rights or pay for costly litigation which many tenants cannot afford. Unfortunately, many tenant were left with only as much justice as they could afford to buy.
Mediation had been voluntary under ORS 90, but OSTA worked to support the adoption of Senate Bill 586 which requires mandatory mediation as of January 1, 2020.
Now, if a landlord or tenant requests mediation over a dispute involving the park or marina, the other party must agree to attend at least one mediation session in good faith.
The hope is that the disputing parties will work through their differences and decide on an agreement that works best for all involved.
Why participate in Mandatory Mediation?
We all know how much of a toll on our health and well being it takes when we hold on to anger. In general, we have lost the ability to have difficult conversations. A mediator has the ability to bring out what we call “the rest of the iceberg.” What may start with a dispute over the placement of a bird feeder might really be the tip of the real cause of the dispute, something totally unrelated to feeding birds. Without the services of a mediator, a real understanding of the nature of the dispute may never be revealed. Without that revelation, healing cannot begin.
Mandatory Mediation Factsheet
This new legislation covers not only manufactured communities but also marinas.
Presently, several community dispute resolution centers hold contracts with the Manufactured Communi-ties Resource Center (MCRC). If uncertain of how to locate a center, contact MCRC on the web at:
www.ohcs.oregon.gov or call them at 1-800-453-5511 and they will connect you with a mediator.
What Will Mediation Cost?
Nothing. The expense, $10 per year, is already included in your property tax statement. The service has been used in the past to settle such disputes as fences, boundaries, night lighting, loud noise, dog disobedience incidents, and basically any difference of opinion between tenants or tenants and landlords. With the range of park rules and rent-al agreements and the differences between them from one space to another, is there any surprise that conflicts arise?
In my neighborhood, we like to say that arguing is a way of trying to persuade who is right but discussing a conflict is a way to decide what is right.
When an issue arises between you and your landlord, the best thing to do is to go into the discussion armed with knowledge about what the law requires of you and your landlord.
Sometimes, simply informing the landlord that you know the law, and that you intend to require that your landlord comply with the law, is all it takes to resolve a dispute.
Prior to 2020, there were plenty of disputes that did not get resolved because the landlord understood that the only way they can be forced into compliance with the law was if the tenant would litigate. This can be costly.
But the law now requires that a landlrod mediate with you in good fiath to resolve your issues. You cannot force your landlord to agree with you but you can force him to listen to you. If your landlord fails to show up or negotiate in good faith, then the tenant is entitled to one month’s rent.
Occasionally, there are issues that do not lend themselves well to mediation or they aren’t eligible for mediation. In those cases, legal assistance is required.
There is nothing wrong with starting here. But in many cases, a tenant can save some money by trying the first two option prior to retaining legal services.
A good settlement is better than a good lawsuit.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.