MHCO Columns

Phil Querin Q&A: Increases in Utility Charges by Provider in Manufactured Housing Facilities

Do you want access to MHCO content?

For complete access to forms, conference presentations, community updates and MHCO columns, log in to your account or register now.

Phil Querin


Question: I’m trying to clarify if an existing and lawful utility charge (e.g., sewer or trash), is increased by the provider, do we have to give advance notice of the increase to the residents before we can pass it through?


For example, if the garbage provider increases its rates from $32/mo to $34/mo for the same service, is management required to notify the residents in advance? And if no advance notice is required, but we get the increase from the provider after already passing through the lower charge, may we recoup the shortfall by sending out a “catch-up” notice to the residents?


Answer:  It you review the Oregon Revised Statutes in Chapter 90, the landlord-tenant section of the law, you will find no clear answer.[1]  The general rule is that landlords may pass through a utility provider’s charges[2] to the resident. The resident may verify the pass-through by examining the provider’s bill and may challenge it if the pass-through exceeds that amount charged to the landlord.


While the law does not require the landlord to do more than pass the increased charge through, good public relations suggest an explanation be given to each resident when the increase occurs.


As to the second issue about dealing with an increase after having already sent a monthly invoice for the lower amount. The best practice is to include the “catch-up” amount in the next immediate month’s utility bill with an explanation. And always remember to post the provider’s bill as required by ORS 90.582.


[Special thanks to John Van Landingham and Bill Miner on this issue. The absence of a law or rule in Oregon’s highly regulated landlord-tenant law always makes me check twice. John and Bill confirmed my research.]


[1] Remember that there are two sections dealing with utilities in residential tenancies:  ORS 90.315 for non-MHP tenancies and 90.560 to 90.584 for MHP tenancies. Also, remember that manufactured homes outside of MHPs and all recreational vehicles regardless of location are not treated as MHs and are therefore regulated exclusively by ORS 90.315.

[2] But nothing more than the amount charged by the provider.