Phil Querin Q&A: Thirteen Year Old Boy Grows Up - Resident WIthout a Background Check

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April 16, 2013

Question: A family moves into a manufactured housing community with a thirteen year old boy. Five years later the parents vacate the home but leave the boy who is now eighteen. Even though the eighteen year old was never subject to a background check, never signed a rental agreement etc., is he now a considered a resident?

Answer: This is an issue that the Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant Act (“ORLTA” or the “Act”) is not fully equipped to address. Nowhere in the Act is there a clear answer. But connecting some dots, I think we can arrive at a logical answer. • Technically, the 18-year old is not a tenant under the manufactured housing park (“MHP”) side of the Act, since he does not “own” the home. At best, he is a “tenant” under the non-MHP side of the law – he could be considered a month-to-month tenant, and therefore subject to the 30-day right of termination by the landlord. Assuming this, what is the landlord to do? First, do the rules permit subleasing? If not, he could be compelled to leave. • Second, rent should not be accepted from him until this situation is clarified and a solution reached. • Third, if the landlord is willing to accept the 18-year old under these circumstances (i.e. assuming he goes into title), he could be offered a monthly tenancy, subject to his qualifying under the community rules, etc. which, of course, require the background check, etc. • Lastly, again assuming the landlord is willing to accept him, a guarantee by the parents might be in order. • Keep in mind that since he was not a signatory to the original rental agreement since he was a minor, the fact that he is the only person remaining at the home, technically makes him an authorized occupant that has not yet been approved by park management. This is your strongest card, and you should use it to fashion the solution that best fits your needs. All of these things require some legal guidance, but the answer to the above question is that the landlord, by acting carefully, should be able to protect his position and either require the 18-year old to vacate or qualify in all respects as a new resident (assuming he goes into ownership of the home). In all cases a background check is not only appropriate, but essential.

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