Phil Querin Q&A: Do Parks Have To Provide Phone Service To Spaces? (Essential Services)

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April 18, 2019
Phil Querin
MHCO Legal Counsel
Querin Law

 

Question: Are parks required to provide a working phone line to the resident’s space so they can have phone service?  I know electricity and water obviously are required but not sure about phone service.

 

 

Answer:  ORS 90.100 (Definitions) provides as follows:

 

(13)“Essential service” means: (b)  For a tenancy consisting of rental space for a manufactured dwelling, floating home or recreational vehicle owned by the tenant or that is otherwise subject to ORS 90.505 to 90.850: (A)Sewage disposal, water supply, electrical supply and, if required by applicable law, any drainage system; and (B)Any other service or habitability obligation imposed by the rental agreement or ORS 90.730the lack or violation of which creates a serious threat to the tenant’s health, safety or property or makes the rented space unfit for occupancy. (Emphasis added.)[1]

Bottom line:Providing phone service is not defined as an “essential service” under Oregon’s landlord-tenant law, and therefore is not required to be provided. Since most people have cell phones, I see little inconvenience in not having a land line – with the exception of the infirm or elderly, who may not have cell phone service. I would hope that for such residents, neighborhood efforts by other tenants would possibly provide welfare checks, since a phone line could be a life line in some instances.

 

The only exception to the above would be if the park’s rental or lease agreement provided for phone service. In such case, the absence of it could arguably be construed as “…a serious threat to the tenant’s health, safety or property….”

 

 

 

 


[1]ORS 90.730 (Landlord duty to maintain rented space, vacant spaces and common areas in habitable condition) provides:

(1) As used in this section, “facility common areas” means all areas under control of the landlord and held out for the general use of tenants.

      (2) A landlord who rents a space for a manufactured dwelling or floating home shall at all times during the tenancy maintain the rented space, vacant spaces in the facility and the facility common areas in a habitable condition. The landlord does not have a duty to maintain a dwelling or home. A landlord’s habitability duty under this section includes only the matters described in subsections (3) to (6) of this section.

      (3) For purposes of this section, a rented space is considered unhabitable if it substantially lacks:

      (a) A sewage disposal system and a connection to the space approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order to the extent that the sewage disposal system can be controlled by the landlord;

      (b) If required by applicable law, a drainage system reasonably capable of disposing of storm water, ground water and subsurface water, approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order;

      (c) A water supply and a connection to the space approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained so as to provide safe drinking water and to be in good working order to the extent that the water supply system can be controlled by the landlord;

      (d) An electrical supply and a connection to the space approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order to the extent that the electrical supply system can be controlled by the landlord;

      (e) A natural gas or propane gas supply and a connection to the space approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order to the extent that the gas supply system can be controlled by the landlord, if the utility service is provided within the facility pursuant to the rental agreement;

      (f) At the time of commencement of the rental agreement, buildings, grounds and appurtenances that are kept in every part safe for normal and reasonably foreseeable uses, clean, sanitary and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin;

      (g) Excluding the normal settling of land, a surface or ground capable of supporting a manufactured dwelling approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained to support a dwelling in a safe manner so that it is suitable for occupancy. A landlord’s duty to maintain the surface or ground arises when the landlord knows or should know of a condition regarding the surface or ground that makes the dwelling unsafe to occupy; and

      (h) Completion of any landlord-provided space improvements, including but not limited to installation of carports, garages, driveways and sidewalks, approved under applicable law at the time of installation.

      (4) A rented space is considered unhabitable if the landlord does not maintain a hazard tree as required by ORS 90.727.

      (5) A vacant space in a facility is considered unhabitable if the space substantially lacks safety from the hazards of fire or injury.

      (6) A facility common area is considered unhabitable if it substantially lacks:

      (a) Buildings, grounds and appurtenances that are kept in every part safe for normal and reasonably foreseeable uses, clean, sanitary and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin;

      (b) Safety from the hazards of fire;

      (c) Trees, shrubbery and grass maintained in a safe manner;

      (d) If supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord to a common area, a water supply system, sewage disposal system or system for disposing of storm water, ground water and subsurface water approved under applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order to the extent that the system can be controlled by the landlord; and

      (e) Except as otherwise provided by local ordinance or by written agreement between the landlord and the tenant, an adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish in clean condition and good repair at the time of commencement of the rental agreement and for which the landlord shall provide and maintain appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and arrange for their removal.

      (7) The landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks and minor remodeling only if:

      (a) The agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord;

      (b) The agreement does not diminish the obligations of the landlord to other tenants on the premises; and

      (c) The terms and conditions of the agreement are clearly and fairly disclosed and adequate consideration for the agreement is specifically stated. [1999 c.676 §6; 2007 c.906 §40; 2011 c.503 §10; 2013 c.443 §2; 2015 c.217 §7]

 
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