Mark Busch Q&A: Can I Close That Bathroom?

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July 14, 2014

Question: There is a public restroom in the middle of our mobile home park’s RV section that is used primarily by RV tenants. Some use it and some don’t. The problem is that it is vandalized on a regular basis and has become more trouble than it is worth. Can we close it? What about the adjacent laundry room? It’s not as much of a problem, but we’d still like to just get rid of the whole facility.

Answer: Yes, you can close the restroom and the laundry facility, but you will need to jump through a few legal hoops to do it.

Under Oregon law, a landlord cannot unilaterally make a change if it “works a substantial modification of the bargain” unless the RV tenant consents in writing. (Note: This differs from the rule change notice and voting procedure for mobile home tenants. That procedure does not apply to RV tenants.)

It sounds as if both the bathroom and the laundry seem to be regularly used by at least some of the RV tenants. Those facilities are also part of each RV tenant’s “rental package” of services or facilities provided by the park. As such, it would be a “substantial modification of the bargain” to unilaterally remove those facilities. Doing so could subject the park to claims of unlawful diminution of services, which might allow your RV tenants to file suit for injunctive relief preventing removal of the facilities, along with the ability to seek money damages and attorney fees.

While you could try getting the written consent of all of your RV tenants, I doubt very much that they would agree to it. Most tenants are not willing to voluntarily give up services provided as part of their rent.

My recommendation has always been to issue either 30-day or 60-day no-cause tenancy termination notices to all RV tenants, coupled with an offer to sign a new rental agreement. The new rental agreement would include a provision specifying that the park will no longer provide a public restroom or laundry. If tenants choose to stay, they would need to sign the new agreement agreeing to the change. If not, they would need to vacate the park or face an eviction action.
Assuming your RV tenants are on a month-to-month rental agreement, a 30-day notice could be issued to any RV tenant who has been a tenant for less than a year. If the tenant has been in the park for a year or longer, it would require a 60-day notice. (Although I would recommend the same 60-day timeline for all RV tenants to avoid any claims of unfairness.)

Mark L. Busch, P.C.
Attorney at Law
Cornell West, Suite 200
1500 NW Bethany Blvd.
Beaverton, Oregon 97006

Ph: 503-597-1309
Fax: 503-430-7593
Web: www.marklbusch.com
Email: mark@marklbusch.com

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