Many of Oregon’s older and rural mobile home parks are filled with lovely, mature trees.    At Wingspread Mobile Home Park in Ashland residents love the stream that flows through the community with ponds and large trees that provide shade and wildlife habitat.

And… the trees get big and send out roots that damage streets, carports and buildings.  Some become diseased and can become a serious danger in winds and fire.  Sadly, not all owners or management companies keep a close eye on their landscapes and the health of trees.  Consider the following if you are concerned about tree health and danger.

Oregon law distinguishes between trees on common property and trees on individual homeowner spaces. The laws on trees in rented spaces depend on whether the current resident planted the tree or not.

If you have a tree on or near your rented space that is threatening safety or property damage, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If the tree is on your space, did you plant it?  If not, the owner is responsible if the tree is a “hazard”.  If you planted it, it’s your responsibility.
  2. If the tree is on common land, it is the landlord’s responsibility, but the same question remains:  Is the tree a “hazard”?

So what is a “hazard tree”?  “Hazard tree” means a tree that:

ORS 90.100(20)

  1. Is located on a rented space in a manufactured dwelling park;
  2. Measures at least eight inches DBH; and
  3. Is considered, by an arborist licensed as a landscape construction professional pursuant to ORS 671.560 (Issuance of license) and certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, to pose an unreasonable risk of causing serious physical harm or damage to individuals or property in the near future

What is an “unreasonable risk of causing serious physical harm or damage to individuals or property?”  This is a judgment call that the arborist will have to make. Typically, arborists consider whether a tree is likely to fall or have large branches fall.

Here are some possible arguments you could make related to trees you believe should be removed or pruned:

  • If you have large tree roots that have pushed up into your driveway or carport or sidewalk, you might argue that these represent a tripping hazard, especially in a park with senior citizens and people with disabilities
  • Tree roots can also damage homes or push them into a un-level position- this could be considered a threat of physical harm or damage
  • Trees could be a fire hazard depending on their location, age, health and the general fire hazards in and surrounding your park

The law (ORS 90.727) goes on to further state both the landlord and tenant reposibilities for maintaining trees in rented spaces.

The law also says that a common area is considered uninhabitable if the trees, shrubbery and grass are not maintained in a safe manner – see ORS 90.530(6)(c). So hold your landlord up to their legal resposibilties to you.

We love trees!  And landlords need to be responsible for keeping us and our homes safe from from trees.  Get an opinion from an arborist. Make your request and give them a deadline.  If the problem, isn’t corrected, consider mediation or ask your tenants association to take up the tree issues in your park.

Author:  Cynthia Dettman, OSTA Board Member