VIDEO Introducing MH/OSTA

MH/OSTA CHAPTER HANDBOOK



MH/OSTA
CHAPTER
HANDBOOK



Table of Contents
Introduction………………………………………………………………….1
Part I    How to Recruit and Keep Members………………………………2
Part II   Who’s Who and What’s What……………………………….…...3
               5-Year Rental Agreement…………………………………………5
Part III  Our Rights! ……………………………….………………….……6
Part IV   Changes in Rules.. …………………………………….………….9
               MCRC Mediation…………………………………………………10
Part V  By-Laws …………………………... ………………………………11
Part VI Conducting Your OSTA Meeting..…………………… …………14
Part VII Committee of Seven Meeting ………………………….………   17
Part VIII  Oregon Statutes ……………………………………  ………….18



 




INTRODUCTION

MH/OSTA was created in 1977 to enhance the desirability and quality of manufactured/mobile home park living.  We are a statewide grassroots organization which endeavors to make changes that will help all of us who own our homes and rent or lease the ground on which they are sited.
Here are some of the ways we do that:
·        Staff (through a network of volunteers) a free 800 number for manufactured home owners to call to help resolve problems, learn about their rights under state law, and access up-to-date information and resources.  
·        Publish a quarterly newsletter, The OSTA Quarterly Review, with information about homeowners’ rights, activities at parks statewide, legislative updates, volunteer profiles, and other information relevant to manufactured homeowners.
·        Promote information-sharing and a sense of community among homeowners from parks throughout the state through our website, blog, district meetings, and annual statewide meeting.
·        Through our network of trained volunteer district directors, provide homeowners with the support they need to form and manage successful chapters in their own parks.
·        Advocate for pro-homeowner changes to state landlord-tenant law (Oregon Revised Statues Title 10, Chapter 90) through the Manufactured Housing Landlord-Tenant Coalition.
·        Provide a unified pro-resident voice to park owners, management, government, and other organizations.
·        Through media efforts, dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about manufactured home park living.



Part I 
How to Recruit and Keep Members
1.     Know and be able to explain the mission and goals of MH/OSTA and your chapter.
2.     Match positions within the chapter to people who have the skills and desires for the job.
3.     Recognize and appreciate your members and officers and involve them in decisions and efforts to reach chapter goals. Honor members occasionally on special days—birthdays, anniversaries, and greet potential members with a small gift.
4.     All should work together for the benefit and enjoyment of the organization.
There is Strength in Numbers; Power in Organization
Our strength, OSTA’s strength, lies in our being organized and having many members.
 Our strength lies in planning and implementing those plans with hard work.
Our strength lies with our consistently promoting legislation that can be passed into law.
Our strength lies in educating ourselves about our rights under those laws.
Our strength lies in our members paying their dues and donating what they can to further our mission of helping each other.
Our political strength lies in showing legislators that there are many of us united in a need to live comfortably in affordable housing under fair laws.
Sometimes we forget just who and what OSTA is. The “who” of OSTA is all of us, each and every one, united first in chapters, then statewide. The “what” is the power that all of us, both in our chapters and statewide, can exert on landlords and legislators. If your chapter is weak, which happens if you don’t have many members, and if people aren’t willing to be organized and work, then strength to influence landlords and legislators is also weak. The state-wide organization is made up of the chapters, so if chapters become weak, so does the whole organization. No one can afford to sit back and let “OSTA take care of things” because YOU are OSTA, and YOU are responsible for keeping OSTA functioning.




PART II
Who’s Who and What’s What

Manufactured Housing/OSTA
MH/OSTA’s mission is to provide and promote:
·        Ready access to homeowner information and assistance
·        Improvement, protection and awareness of homeowner rights
·        Preservation of manufactured home ownership as a desirable and affordable housing option.
·        Connection to needed services provided by others.
·        A sense of community among manufactured homeowners statewide.
We accomplish these goals through growing our membership base, strengthening the connections among members through our system of local chapters and districts, and providing members with the information that they need to live securely and comfortably in their own homes and communities.

A Committee of Seven:
Resolving Problems with Your Landlord
Title 10 Chapter 90.600 (5)(a)and (b) enables residents in a park to elect a Committee of Seven or fewer to meet with the owner or his representative at no more than two meetings a year to discuss non-rent concerns. The Committee collects written problems, and after receiving several complaints, asks for one of the two yearly meetings with the owner. Afterwards the Committee Secretary submits a written summary of the proceedings to the landlord, who then has 60 days in which to respond in writing to the concerns. The committee is entitled to informal dispute resolution if the landlord fails to meet or respond to the summary. An individual with a personal complaint should contact the manager on his or her own, perhaps taking a witness. (See page 17 for Committee of Seven guidelines.)  
Homeowners’ Association
Some parks also have a Homeowners’ Association that automatically includes every resident of the park. Generally this group offers activities to promote neighborliness. Among the activities are coffees, potlucks, games, garage sales, welcome baskets, etc. This group can also provide information on community services. If there is no homeowners association, the OSTA chapter or individuals can assume promoting neighborliness. 
A sample form follows for compiling information for a park directory:
Welcome Neighbors
Residents’Names:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Mailing Address & Space #:____________________________________________

Phone Numbers: ____________________________________________________

E-Mail Address:_____________________________________________________
Birthdays/Anniversary:________________________________________________
Emergency Contacts:_________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
Pets’ Names and description: __________________________________________
Work Experience/Hobbies: __________________________________________________________________

Other committees often established in parks include:
Hospitality--This committee can provide refreshments at meetings, send cards to shut-ins, and call on new residents, perhaps with a small gift and a copy of The OSTA Quarterly Review.
Security Patrol--established with the help of the police department, the security patrol serves as eyes and ears, especially at night.
Overlapping Functions of the Various Groups within a Park
It is of utmost importance that each group functions within the parameters of its own committee so that duties don’t overlap and feelings don’t get bruised. Even if a park has just two of the groups mentioned here, it would be wise for the chairpersons to confer periodically and lay out and agree to their agendas in writing before reporting to the rest of the residents. All of these groups are referred to in the state statutes as Tenants Associations. At one meeting each year, the chairs of the groups should provide an updated one-page reference listing the organizations and their contacts. Management is required by statute to provide this page of information to new residents along with a Statement of Policy, rental agreement, and rules.

Landlords’ Five-Year Rental History
          Every landlord who rents space in a manufactured home park must provide potential tenants with a Statement of Policy. The written statement must include “the facility policy regarding rent adjustment and a rent history for the space to be rented. The rent history must, at a minimum, show the rent amounts on January 1 of each of the five preceding calendar years or during the length of the landlord’s ownership, leasing or subleasing of the facility, whichever period is shorter” (ORS Chapter 90.510). What this means is that someone moving in will know how much the landlord has raised the rent since he or she has owned the park. Potential residents should study those Statements of Policy before signing any papers, and if, as a current resident, you don’t have a copy in your personal files, you’re legally entitled to get a copy from your manager. If the managers claim they don’t have a copy of your rental agreement, they CANNOT make you sign a new one.


Part III Our Rights!
Tell Your Friends and Neighbors!

Many of our rights didn’t exist until after 1977, the year the Oregon State Tenants Association, now called Manufactured Housing/OSTA,  was established.  Now Oregon Revised Statutes --ORS Chapter 90—give you and your neighbors the right to:
·        Form a residents’ association without management interference or fear of retaliation
·        Object to proposed park rules change by submitting a petition signed by one person in 51% or more of the eligible homes.
·        Make a legitimate complaint to the landlord or owner without fear of retaliation.
·        Receive a 90-day notice of a rent increase.
·        Have written copies of the rental agreement, park rules, and policy statement.
·        Be notified in writing if you are accused of violating any park rule or policy.
·        Expect your park to be maintained in a safe and healthful condition.
·        Not sign a new rental agreement if you currently have a month-to-month one.
·        Be protected from eviction except for not paying rent or utilities, illegal activities, or violation of park rules.


ORS Chapter 90 laws also require your landlord to:
·        Keep clubhouse and other facilities available for use from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week and not require you to provide liability insurance to use those facilities.
·        Meet with a community-elected committee to resolve landlord/tenant problems.
·        No longer charge you fees for having a pet.
·        Accept or reject a submitted application from a prospective buyer within seven days, if you are selling your home.
·        No longer force you to move your home from the park based on its age, style, or original building materials.
·        Provide a 24-hour written notice to enter your space, except in an emergency.
·        Maintain a hazard tree that was not planted by the current tenant.
·        Take bi-yearly training on Landlord/Tenant Statutes.
·        Not bill tenants more for utilities or service than the actual charge from the provider.
·        Compete fairly, not unfairly, with residents selling their homes.

We are stronger together than we are alone.
First, be an active member of MH/OSTA.
Then, volunteer your talents and abilities so we can be more effective.

Be a good neighbor!









Part IV
When the Landlord Changes the Rules…
…He must notify every tenant with a written notice similar to the following:

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE OR REGULATION CHANGE

The landlord intends to change a rule or regulation in this facility.
The change will go into effect unless tenants of at least 51 percent of the eligible spaces object in writing within 30 days. Any objection must be signed and dated by a tenant of an eligible space.
The number of eligible spaces as of the date of this notice is: _____. Those eligible spaces are (space or street identification): ___________________________.
The last day for a tenant of an eligible space to deliver a written objection to the landlord is _________ (landlord fill in date).
Unless tenants in at least 51 percent of the eligible spaces object, the proposed rule or regulation will go into effect on _________.
The new rules become effective for all tenants of those spaces on a date not less than 60 days after the date that the notice was served by the landlord.
To Object to the Rule Change…

      One tenant of record per eligible space may object to the rule or regulation change through either:
      (a) A signed and dated written communication to the landlord; or
      (b) A petition format that is signed and dated by tenants of eligible spaces and that includes a copy of the proposed rule or regulation and a copy of the notice.

A sample petition follows:

To:  The Management of _____________________Manufactured Home Park
Re:  Proposed Change(s) to Rules and Regulations (Copy of proposed rule or regulation change and copy of landlord’s notice attached).
The undersigned reject the proposed change(s) and request that a committee of no more than ______ residents meet with management to discuss these proposed changes and consider alternatives :

Name                                                                                      Space No.   Dated
1.
2.
3.
4.
Etc. to 51% of eligible spaces.
   
   The parties may attempt to resolve disagreements regarding the proposed rule or regulation change by using the facility’s informal dispute resolution process.
(See ORS.90.610 to read the statute in full).


The Manufactured Community Resource Center Offers Mediation Services
There are over 1,000 manufactured home parks in Oregon, both senior parks (55+) and family parks. In 2010,  2,154 people, most of them residents in parks, called the Manufactured Communities Resource Center (MCRC) for help, and staff went to 22 park meetings. MCRC offers mediation services about problems between residents but more often about landlord/tenant conflicts. Satisfaction is high among those who used the free mediation services, and everyone who ever completed an evaluation said they would use it again.
The top concerns are park registrations, rental agreements and park rules, landlord training, evictions, park maintenance, harassment, dispute resolution, sale of a home, water/sewer/garbage, and complaints about a landlord.  These are the same concerns OSTA hears when you contact us.  It’s good to have two knowledgeable places manufactured homeowners can go for advice, and we work together to help solve problems. MCRC can be contacted by calling 1-800-453-5511 or by accessing the website: www.ohcs.oregon.gov.




Part V
By-Laws

From MH/OSTA ByLaws
Guidelines for State MH/OSTA Chapters
Article 12.3  Supporting the Mission.  A chapter shall operate in such a way as to support the charitable and educational purpose of the Corporation, and in compliance with the Articles of Incorporation and the operational limits of an organization exempt from taxation under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Article 12.4  Prohibitions.  A Chapter may not engage in activities in violation of the charitable and educational purposes of the Corporation, the statute governing the Corporation, or Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, the following limitations shall apply to the activities of Chapters:
          12.4.1  No substantial part of the activities of the Chapter shall be attempting to influence federal, state or local legislation.
          12.4.2  No Chapter shall participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.
          12.4.3  No Chapter shall engage in solicitations for tax-deductible charitable donations. This activity shall be reserved to the Corporation.





Sample Chapter By-Laws
+
CHAPTER BY-LAWS
MANUFACTURED HOUSING/ OREGON STATE TENANTS ASSOCIATION

ARTICLE 1—ORGANIZATION

Sec. 1  The name of this organization will be: _______________________
                                                                         (park name and  chapter number)
           of the Manufactured Housing/ Oregon/Oregon State Tenants
            Association (MH/OSTA).

                                             ARTICLE II—PURPOSE

Sec. 1  The purpose of this chapter of MHOO/OSTA is to advance the interests and
             protect the investments of the residents of this park, to engage in any
   activity the membership of this chapter deems necessary under the
   guidelines set forth by the state organization, and to represent the members
   of this chapter at State and District meetings.

                                             ARTICLE III—MEETINGS

Sec. 1  Business meetings will be held quarterly at times announced by the board. 
           They will be held in the Community Center for all members in good
           standing.
            (Non-members can be invited if desired.)

Sec. 2  All members must be notified of meetings and those members attending
           shall constitute a  quorum. At least two members of the executive board
           must be present to carry out the business of the chapter.  To add board
           members or make changes to these bylaws, all members must be notified
           and 2/3 of the members attending must approve the changes. 
           
Sec. 3  Special meetings may be called by any executive officer or by one third of
            the  members if there is business that cannot wait until the next business
            meeting.   
            Written notice must be posted at least two days in advance and there must
            be two officers present.

ARTICLE IV—DUTIES OF OFFICERS

The executive committee shall consist of the president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer. The term of office shall be for two years. Officers may be re-elected.

Duties of the President: Arrange meetings of the chapter and conduct business according to the requirements of the state and chapter bylaws. Appoint committees as needed.

Duties of the Vice-president: Assist the president and conduct meetings in the absences of the president. Chair the nominating committee and membership committees.

Duties of the Secretary/Treasurer: Record the minutes of each meeting and preserve minutes and correspondence. Collect, bank and dispense chapter monies. Keep accurate reports of the business of the chapter.
[Note: These bylaws are a sample only.]







Part VI
 Guidelines to Conducting Your OSTA Meeting

Follow Parliamentary Procedure, the set of rules for conduct at meetings that allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion. Robert's Rules of Order is the basic handbook of operation for most organizations, including MH/OSTA. 

The order of business usually includes:
1.     Call to order.
2.     Roll call of members present.
3.     Reading of minutes of last meeting.
4.     Officers’ reports, including treasurer’s report.
5.     Committee reports.
6.     Special orders --- Important business previously designated for consideration at this meeting.
7.     Unfinished business.
8.     New business.
9.     Announcements.
10.                        Adjournment.
Members express themselves by making motions. A motion is a proposal on an issue on which the entire membership takes action or a stand. Individual members can:
1.     Call to order
2.     Second motions
3.     Debate motions
4.     Vote on motions.
There are four Basic Types of Motions but seldom will you be concerned with anything other than a Main Motion. The purpose of a main motion is to introduce items to the membership for their consideration.

How are Motions Presented?
1.     Obtaining the floor
a.     Wait until the last speaker has finished.
b.     Rise and address the Chair by saying, "Mr. Chairman” (or “Mr. President”) or “Madame. Chairwoman” (or “Madame. President”). Wait until the Chair recognizes you.
2.     Make Your Motion
a.     Speak in a clear and concise manner.
b.     Always state a motion affirmatively. Say, "I move that we ..." rather than, "I move that we do not ...."
c.      Avoid personalities and stay on your subject.
3.     Wait for Someone to Second Your Motion
4.     Another member will second your motion or the Chair will call for a second.
5.     If there is no second to your motion, it is lost.
6.     The Chair States Your Motion
a.     The Chair will say, "It has been moved and seconded that we ..." Thus placing your motion before the membership for consideration and action.
b.     The membership then either debates your motion, or may move directly to a vote.
c.      Once your motion is presented to the membership by the chair it becomes "assembly property" and cannot be changed by you without the consent of the members.
7.     Expanding on Your Motion
a.     The time for you to speak in favor of your motion is at this point in time, rather than at the time you present it.
b.     The mover is always allowed to speak first.
c.      All comments and debate must be directed to the chair.
d.     Keep to the time limit for speaking that has been established.
e.      The mover may speak again only after other speakers are finished, unless called upon by the Chair.
8.     Putting the Question to the Membership
a.     The Chair asks, "Are you ready to vote on the question?"
b.     If there is no more discussion, a vote is taken.
Voting on a Motion:
The method of vote on any motion depends on the situation and the by-laws of policy of your organization. There are five methods used to vote by most organizations, they are:
1.     By Voice -- The Chair asks those in favor to say, "aye", those opposed to say "no". Any member may move for an exact count.
2.     By Roll Call -- Each member answers "yes" or "no" as his name is called. This method is used when a record of each person's vote is required.
3.     By General Consent -- When a motion is not likely to be opposed, the Chair says, "if there is no objection ..." The membership shows agreement by their silence, however if one member says, "I object," the item must be put to a vote.
4.     By Division -- This is a slight variation of a voice vote. It does not require a count unless the chair so desires. Members raise their hands or stand.
5.     By Ballot -- Members write their vote on a slip of paper; this method is used when secrecy is desired.
There are two other motions that are commonly used that relate to voting.
1.     Motion to Table -- This motion is often used in the attempt to "kill" a motion. The option is always present, however, to "take from the table" for reconsideration by the membership.
2.     Motion to Postpone Indefinitely -- This is often used as a means of parliamentary strategy and allows opponents of a motion to test their strength without an actual vote being taken. Also, debate is once again open on the main motion.
Parliamentary Procedure is the best way to get things done at your meetings. But, it will only work if you use it properly.
1.     Allow motions that are in order.
2.     Have members obtain the floor properly.
3.     Speak clearly and concisely.
4.     Obey the rules of debate.
Most importantly, BE COURTEOUS.  [Note: Chapters may adopt any or all of these suggestions as fit their needs. The state MH/OSTA organization does not dictate how chapters should run their meetings, but we do encourage courtesy.]

Part VII

 A GUIDE FOR SUCCESSFUL

COMMITTEE OF SEVEN MEETINGS


1.     Keep written records. Insist that residents write out and sign their grievances. You can promise not to divulge identities, of course.  You don’t want a later backlash, where someone says, “That wasn’t me who complained. I never said that.” Insist that your committee members respect the privacy of those who complain. What goes on in the committee meetings should stay within the committee. The chair might provide an overview to the homeowners, but no names should be mentioned.
2.     Prepare a list of goals based on complaints gathered from residents. Study the complaints, grouping them as much as possible, and ranking them as to importance to all residents. Try to word your list in a positive way, that is, for example, don’t say, “The manager should stop being so nasty.” Better to say, “We’d like a pleasant relationship between management and residents.”
3.     Negotiate with management which of the goals on your written list they will consider. The negotiation will be give and take, involving discussion and no accusations. For example: one goal might be for the manager and residents to be more pleasant to each other. If management can agree that pleasant working relationships are desirable, then the committee and management can discuss together how to make that possible. Another goal might be to prevent speeding within the park.  If management agrees that’s a worthwhile goal, everyone can discuss ways to prevent speeding.
4.      Prepare a written list of negotiated goals and suggestions for achieving them for management and committee members to study. If there have to be personal complaints, they should also be offered in writing so that they can be clearly understood by everyone in the meeting (the person being accused needs to have a written copy of the allegation in order to defend him- or herself).
5.     Expect management to respond in writing to the prepared list of goals within 60 days. If the response does not address issues to the committee’s satisfaction, contact OSTA and the State of Oregon’s Manufactured Communities Resource Center for mediation services.
Part VIII
 Oregon Revised Statutes Govern Our Lives; District Directors Can Help You Understand Them

If you have a computer, you can download a copy of ORS Chapter 90 either directly from your Internet browser or from the Manufactured Housing-OSTA web site, or the blog. Several years ago, Oregon Housing and Community Services stopped providing free copies of Title 10, Chapter 90, the landlord/tenant laws that govern our lives in manufactured home parks, due to budget limitations.
It is the job of MH/OSTA’s District Directors to help you.  If they don’t have an immediate answer, they will research your questions. MH/OSTA’s aim is to provide information and referral and help you understand your choices about what you can do. Directors may suggest mediation, calling OHCS, discussing a problem through your Committee of Seven, consulting an attorney, and, in threatening situations, contacting the police. They will help you form a grievance committee and a MH/OSTA chapter.
The OSTA Review has been running a series of pull-out pages that quote and discuss sections of the statutes. These are designed for chapters to study in groups. If you haven’t saved your paper copies, printable back issues of The OSTA Review are available on the MH-OSTA web site and on blogging with MH-OSTA

You will also find useful information including a link to Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 90—the laws that govern our lives in manufactured home parks—by going to www.mh-osta.  Information on current happenings and how to contact officers and directors can be found in any edition of The OSTA Review and at blogging with mh-osta


Thank You for Being a Good Neighbor!