Pets! A Summary of Pets in Your Community Rights and Responsibilites

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One of the most challenging issues facing park owners and managers is the issue of pets. ORS 90.530 outlines the do's and don'ts of pets in manufactured home communities. Here is a summary.

1. Changes in Community Rules or Regulations addressing pets: A resident may keep a pet that is living with the resident at the time of the rules and regulation change. The resident may also replace the pet with a pet similar to the one living with the tenant at the time of the rule change.

2. 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.

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

4. A landlord may not charge a one-time monthly or other periodic amount based on the tenant's possession of a pet.

5. A landlord may charge a tenant an amount for a violation of a written an amount for a violation of a written pet agreement or rules relating to pets not to exceed $50.00 for each violation.

6. Changes in Community Rules or Regulations addressing pets: A resident may keep a pet that is living with the resident at the time of the rules and regulation change. The resident may also replace the pet with a pet similar to the one living with the tenant at the time of the rule change.

7. 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.

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

9. A landlord may not charge a one-time monthly or other periodic amount based on the tenant's possession of a pet.

10. A landlord may charge a tenant an amount for a violation of a written an amount for a violation of a written pet agreement or rules relating to pets not to exceed $50.00 for each violation.

There is almost no greater issue that can create problems for landlords, than whether tenants can retain a pet they have brought into the community. How can owners and managers take control of the issue?

First, landlords should check their current rules and rental agreement. Although landlords who have previously permitted pets in the community, cannot retroactively prohibit them to tenants who already have pets living with them. Nor can they retroactively prohibit a type of pet that had previously been permitted. However, going forward, i.e. for new tenants, landlords should make sure that their rules place appropriate limitations on the size and type of pets that can be brought into the park. Rules should be drafted broadly to prohibit pets, e.g. breeds of dogs, that have a reputation for aggressiveness, or dogs of a particular size, or both.

Secondly, consistency is important. That is, landlords should be careful not to make exceptions or ignore violations of the pet rules. Otherwise, the landlord will be accused of either being arbitrary or "playing favorites." Selective prosecution of tenants for violation of the pet rules does not play well with judges and juries.

Lastly, in all cases, landlords should make sure that their tenants sign pet agreements for their animals. Oregon law expressly permits this. The MHCO agreement (Form 21) follows the statutory guidelines and assures that the tenant has liability insurance coverage. It also permits landlords to assess fines for violations of the rules.