Phil Querin Q&A: Requiring Liability Insurance For Tenant Pets in Manufactured Housing Communities

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Phil Querin

Question:  We would like to start requiring residents with pets to take out $250,000 in insurance with our managers name on the insurance policy.  Can we require this of residents already in the park?  We have looked at Form 21 (Pet Agreement) and 21A (Assistance Animal Agreement) and do not see anything about insurance.  Should there be something about insurance for pets on those forms?  Can we require this of owners of ‘assistance animals’?  

Answer: ORS 90.530 (Pets in Facilities) provides as follows:

 

Notwithstanding a change in the rules and regulations of a manufactured dwelling or floating home facility that would prohibit pets, a tenant may keep a pet that is otherwise legally living with the tenant at the time the landlord provides notice of the proposed change to the rules and regulations of the facility. The tenant may replace a pet with a pet similar to the one living with the tenant at the time the landlord provided notice of the proposed change. New rules and regulations that regulate the activities of pets shall apply to all pets in the facility, including those pets that were living in the facility prior to the adoption of the new rules or regulations.

(2)A rental agreement between a landlord renting a space for a manufactured dwelling or floating home and a tenant renting the space must comply with the following:

(a)A landlord may not charge a one-time, monthly or other periodic amount based on the tenant’s possession of a pet.

(b)A landlord may provide written rules regarding control, sanitation, number, type and size of pets. The landlord may require the tenant to sign a pet agreement and to provide proof of liability insurance. The landlord may require the tenant to make the landlord a co-insured for the purpose of receiving notice in the case of cancellation of the insurance.

(c)A landlord may charge a tenant an amount for a violation of a written pet agreement or rules relating to pets not to exceed $50 for each violation.

 

MHCO Form 05A Space Rental Agreement provides in relevant part:

  • Sec. 5 (Additional Fees and Charges) includes place for Landlord to attach the Pet Agreement.
  • Section 8 (Community Rules and Regulations; Fines) provides: 8.1 TENANT represents that TENANT has read the Community Rules and Regulations, and agrees to comply therewith, as well as any additional rules and regulations that have been adopted by LANDLORD. A copy of the Community Rules and Regulations is attached and made part of this Agreement. TENANT is responsible for the acts of members of TENANT’S household, TENANT’S pets, occupants, guests and visitors. Violation of this Agreement or any Community Rule and Regulations may be cause for termination. 8.2 As more fully described in ORS 90.302, LANDLORD may charge TENANT a fee for each occurrence of the following: (a) A late Rent payment; (b) A dishonored check; (c) Removal or tampering with a properly functioning smoke alarm, smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm; (d) The violation of a written pet agreement or of a rule relating to pets in the Community;
  • Sec. 12. (Tenant Agreements)TENANT agrees to the following: A. To be responsible for and pay all damages caused by the acts of TENANT, other occupants of TENANT’S Space, TENANT’S pets, occupants, guests and visitors.*** J. (Not applicable unless box is checked.)Maintain a homeowner’s policy of insurance that includes:(a) Coverage for fire in an amount sufficient to replace the Home; and (b) A general liability policy of not less than $100,000 per occurrence. (Note: The liability policy should comply with ORS 90.222.[1]) TENANT agrees to provide LANDLORD, upon request, with a current copy of such policy or policies. TENANT(S) Initials: _____________
  • Sec. 13B (1) (Termination of Tenancy by Landlord): TENANT or others occupying TENANT’S Home violate a law or ordinance which relates to TENANT’S conduct as a tenant or violates this Agreement or the Community Rules and Regulations. 

 

MHCO For 21 (Pet Agreement) provides in relevant part:

 

Sec. 4. Resident shall maintain at all times a policy of general liability insurance in a company satisfactory to Management with coverage of not less than $250,000 naming Management as a co-insured. Said policy shall provide insurance coverage in the event of any claims, damages or liability arising as a result of any injuries to other Residents, their guests or other third parties directly or indirectly caused by Resident’s pet(s). Said policy shall include a provision that Management must be notified prior to cancellation. A copy of the policy shall be provided to Management together with evidence satisfactory to management that the policy is in full force and effect for so long as Resident has the pet(s) at this Community.

 

MHCO For 21A (Assistance Animal Agreement) provides in relevant part:

 

Appearing at top of form: [Note: Landlord reserves the right to refuse to permit an animal becoming an assistance animal if: (a) It has previously caused verifiable and significant damage or injury to persons or property in the Community; (b) Landlord’s insurance carrier would cancel, substantially increase premiums, or adversely change policy terms because of the presence of a certain breed of dog or a certain animal andit would impose an undue financial and administrative burden for Landlord to secure a substitute carrier which would provide coverage for the Animal (hereinafter “Undue Burden”). Prior to such refusal, Landlord should secure written verification substantiating the Undue Burden.]

 

Summary of Above Information

  • ORS 90.530 (Pets in Facilities) permits landlords to enact rules and regulations regarding pets. It also provides that management may require that tenants carry liability insurance on their pets and name the landlord as a co-insured.
  • ORS 90.222 (Renter’s liability insurance), quoted in Footnote 1, does not apply to manufactured housing communities. ORS 90.222 addresses tenant liability insurance but says nothing about insurance for pets. Nevertheless, the provisions of ORS 90.222 should be reviewed, perhaps as a “best practice”, as they contain certain landlord limitations that perhaps can be applied when requiring pet insurance (See, for example, the provisions at Subsections 8 and 9 regarding family income limitations and subsidized housing.) In the event of a conflict between ORS 90.222 and ORS 90.530 (e.g. naming management as a co-insured under ORS 90.530), the manufactured housing statute, ORS 90.530, would apply, as ORS 90.222 does not pertain to parks
  • The MHCO Space Rental Agreement addresses tenant liability insurance of at least $100,000, but this is optional, and the adjacent box must be checked to apply. It also allows landlord to require the tenant to sign a Pet Agreement. Under the Space Rental Agreement there are several provisions regarding tenant responsibility and liability for damage or injury caused by their pets.
  • The MHCO Pet Agreement requires $250,000 liability insurance, naming management as a co-insured.
  • The MHCO Assistance Animal Pet Agreement does notrequire that tenants obtain liability insurance, since an assistance animal is not regarded as a “pet”. However, it does permit management to decline to allow an assistance animal if, under certain circumstances, its insurance carrier would not provide insurance or would substantially increase the current premium.
  • Note: I did not address park rules, since they can vary widely. But there is little question that park management may have a mandatory pet liability insurance provision in its rules, and as long as they apply to everyone, a rule change can be applied retroactively.
 

[1]90.222 Renter’s liability insurance.(1) A landlord may require a tenant to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance in a written rental agreement. The amount of coverage may not exceed $100,000 per occurrence or the customary amount required by landlords for similar properties with similar rents in the same rental market, whichever is greater.

      (2) Before entering a new tenancy, a landlord:

      (a) Shall advise an applicant in writing of a requirement to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance and the amount of insurance required and provide a reasonable written summary of the exceptions to this requirement under subsections (8) and (9) of this section.

      (b) May require an applicant to provide documentation of renter’s liability insurance coverage before the tenancy begins.

      (3) For an existing month-to-month tenancy, the landlord may amend a written rental agreement to require renter’s liability insurance after giving the tenant at least 30 days’ written notice of the requirement and the written summary described in subsection (2) of this section. If the tenant does not obtain renter’s liability insurance within the 30-day period:

      (a) The landlord may terminate the tenancy pursuant to ORS 90.392; and

      (b) The tenant may cure the cause of the termination as provided by ORS 90.392 by obtaining insurance.

      (4) A landlord may require that the tenant provide documentation:

      (a) That the tenant has named the landlord as an interested party on the tenant’s renter’s liability insurance policy authorizing the insurer to notify the landlord of:

      (A) Cancellation or nonrenewal of the policy;

      (B) Reduction of policy coverage; or

      (C) Removal of the landlord as an interested party; or

      (b) On a periodic basis related to the coverage period of the renter’s liability insurance policy or more frequently if the landlord reasonably believes that the insurance policy is no longer in effect, that the tenant maintains the renter’s liability insurance.

      (5) A landlord may require that a tenant obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance only if the landlord obtains and maintains comparable liability insurance and provides documentation to any tenant who requests the documentation, orally or in writing. The landlord may provide documentation to a tenant in person, by mail or by posting in a common area or office. The documentation may consist of a current certificate of coverage. A written rental agreement that requires a tenant to obtain and maintain renter’s liability insurance must include a description of the requirements of this subsection.

      (6) Neither a landlord nor a tenant shall make unreasonable demands that have the effect of harassing the other with regard to providing documentation of insurance coverage.

      (7) A landlord may not:

      (a) Require that a tenant obtain renter’s liability insurance from a particular insurer;

      (b) Require that a tenant name the landlord as an additional insured or as having any special status on the tenant’s renter’s liability insurance policy other than as an interested party for the purposes described in subsection (4)(a) of this section;

      (c) Require that a tenant waive the insurer’s subrogation rights; or

      (d) Make a claim against the tenant’s renter’s liability insurance unless:

      (A) The claim is for damages or costs for which the tenant is legally liable and not for damages or costs that result from ordinary wear and tear, acts of God or the conduct of the landlord;

      (B) The claim is greater than the security deposit of the tenant, if any; and

      (C) The landlord provides a copy of the claim to the tenant contemporaneous with filing the claim with the insurer.

      (8) A landlord may not require a tenant to obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance if the household income of the tenant is equal to or less than 50 percent of the area median income, adjusted for family size as measured up to a five-person family, as determined by the Oregon Housing Stability Council based on information from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

      (9) A landlord may not require a tenant to obtain or maintain renter’s liability insurance if the dwelling unit of the tenant has been subsidized with public funds:

      (a) Including federal or state tax credits, federal block grants authorized in the HOME Investment Partnerships Act under Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, as amended, or the Community Development Block Grant program authorized in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, project-based federal rent subsidy payments under 42 U.S.C. 1437f and tax-exempt bonds.

      (b) Not including tenant-based federal rent subsidy payments under the Housing Choice Voucher Program authorized by 42 U.S.C. 1437f or any other local, state or federal rental housing assistance.

      (10) Subsection (9) of this section does not apply to a dwelling unit that is not subsidized even if the unit is on premises in which some dwelling units are subsidized.

      (11)(a) If a landlord knowingly violates this section, the tenant may recover the actual damages of the tenant or $250, whichever is greater.

      (b) If a landlord files a frivolous claim against the renter’s liability insurance of a tenant, the tenant may recover from the landlord the actual damages of the tenant plus $500.

      (12) This section does not:

      (a) Affect rights or obligations otherwise provided in this chapter or in the rental agreement.

      (b) Apply to tenancies governed by ORS 90.505 to 90.850. [2013 c.294 §2; 2015 c.180 §38; 2015 c.388 §5]

 

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