Phil Querin Q&A: Community Owner Providing Tenant Association Information on Residents

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December 3, 2012

Question. A resident of our community has asked for a list of all the other residents’ names and addresses, so that she can contact them to set up a homeowners association. While I don’t have an objection to the formation of a tenant association, I am concerned that giving out residents’ names and addresses might violate some tenant rights on our part. Can you help?

Answer: ORS Chapter 90, the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act, is replete with references to tenant associations. Residents clearly have many rights when it comes to the formation of an association, including the right of assembly and the right to canvass other residents. However, nowhere does the law say that park owners and managers have a legal duty to provide individual contact information to other residents, regardless of the purpose for which it is sought. Here is what ORS 90.750 [“Right to assemble or canvass in facility; limitations”] says on the matter: • No park bylaw, rental agreement, regulation or rule shall infringe upon resident rights to: o Peaceably assemble in an open public meeting for any lawful purpose, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, in the common areas or recreational areas; reasonable times are the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. o To communicate or assemble among themselves, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, for the purpose of discussing any matter, including but not limited to any matter relating to the park, or manufactured dwelling living. • The discussions may be held in the common areas or recreational areas of the facility, including halls or centers, or any resident’s home. • However, the landlord may enforce reasonable rules and regulations including but not limited to place, scheduling, occupancy densities and utilities. • A landlord may not prohibit any resident from canvassing other persons in the same facility for certain prescribed purposes. The term “canvassing” includes door-to-door contact, an oral or written request, the distribution, circulation, posting or publication of a notice or newsletter, a general announcement or any other matter relevant to the membership of a tenants’ association. • However, a landlord is not required to 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. • Lastly, the statute clarifies that it is not intended to require a landlord to permit any person to disregard a tenant’s request not to be canvassed. To me, this last provision suggests an answer to your question, as it acknowledges that some residents may not want to be “canvassed.” In other words, they have certain rights not to be disturbed, and may request management’s assistance in preventing it from occurring. Accordingly, my view is that before contact information is shared by management with other residents, advance consent should be received from each affected person. Without such consent, I would be very hesitant to give out the information. Certainly, the resident seeking the contact information can try to obtain it by going door-to-door and asking for it. If community management already maintains a published directory of residents that contains names and addresses, I suppose consent is implied by the lapse of time, assuming that everyone knows of the directory. But I would not recommend this practice, and certainly would not share the information with other residents. My conclusions are based not so much on some legal duty of “confidentiality” or legally protectable “right of privacy.” With the Internet, it’s hard to say much of our private information is legally protectable any more. My feeling is a practical one: If there is no affirmative legal duty to provide the information, and there is some risk, however remote, that sharing it without advance consent could anger some residents, it is far better to decline your resident’s request. It does not hamper the association formation process in any way, and respects every resident’s privacy, however limited it is today.

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