Tenant vs. Tenant Disputes: Do I Have to Intervene?
A Landlord owns several adjacent rental units with multiple tenants, such as an apartment complex, a duplex, or a mobile home park.
Two neighboring tenants have an ongoing dispute, which has led to several reported arguments between them and complaints to you as the landlord from both of them about the other. Issue: Do you as the landlord intervene in their dispute, and if so, how?
Answer The usual answer is “yes,” you should intervene in the dispute. As a landlord, you can be held liable for the acts of a tenant if it is “reasonably foreseeable” that the tenant poses a risk of physical harm to another tenant, either on or off the rental premises. That means that if you have notice that one or both of the tenants poses a risk of harm to the other (or even towards a 3rd party), you have an obligation to do something about it.
What exactly do you have to do? The basic answer is that you should issue an eviction notice to one or both of the feuding tenants. In most circumstances, the appropriate notice would be a 30-day, for-cause notice for violating the rental agreement, the facility rules, and/or the landlord-tenant statutes that require all tenants to “behave in a manner that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by neighbors.”
If the tenants comply by behaving themselves during the 30-day notice period, then both of their tenancies continue. However, if either of them cause another similar problem in the following 6 months, you should issue a 10-day, non-curable notice forcing them to vacate or face eviction (or 20-day notice for mobile home park tenants). In more intense situations that involve actual injuries or immediate threats of serious injury, a 24-hour eviction notice might be necessary. Always consult an attorney if you are confronted by this situation.
Landlords in Oregon have been found liable to their tenants if they fail to take action against a known threat from another neighbor. It is better to err on the side of issuing notices to both tenants if a feud is brewing to reduce your risk of liability. You don’t necessarily have to file an eviction if the feud subsides, but it is always better to build a paper trail of proactive intervention to protect yourself as a landlord.