The Yukon government is considering changes to the rules governing mobile home tenancies, to help protect mobile home owners against evictions and uncontrolled rent hikes.
The government is conducting a public survey about possible changes to the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
It’s considering putting in place some form of rent control for mobile home parks, and getting rid of evictions without cause for mobile home owners.
Currently, Yukon’s legislation treats mobile home owners who rent pads essentially like any other tenant, said Community Services Minister Currie Dixon.
That means their pad rent can be increased by an unlimited amount every year. They can also be evicted without cause, though they have to be given a year’s notice, and they can’t be evicted in December, January or February. Conventional tenants only have to be given two months’ notice.
But Dixon said those rules ignore the differences between renting an apartment and renting a pad for a mobile home.
“The situation in Yukon is such that there’s limited available space for mobile homes currently,” he said. “So if you are, for instance, evicted from a mobile home park and asked to take your mobile home off of the site, there isn’t really anywhere else to go.”
He also pointed out that many mobile home residents own their homes and have a mortgage on them, but don’t own the land. That’s an unusual situation for most tenants.
He said the government might adopt a model like Nova Scotia’s, which allows annual pad rent increases at the rate of inflation plus one per cent.
But he said he wants input from Yukoners before any decisions are made.
“We want to hear from mobile home owners, we want to hear from people who rent from mobile home owners … and park owners themselves, to consider what the implications could be for any particular changes.”
In a rare display of cross-party generosity, Dixon thanked NDP housing critic Kate White for raising the issue numerous times. “She was the first to bring it forward to us,” he said.
In return, White thanked Dixon for taking action on the issue, though she added that “the unfortunate part is that this is just a consultation.”
She has been calling for exactly these changes since before December 2014, when she collected 350 signatures on a petition that she presented to the legislative assembly.
At the time, Brad Cathers, then the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, said the government was willing to reconsider the rules for mobile home owners.
“Do I think the consultation could have been done two years ago? Absolutely. … But there wasn’t that political will,” White said. “I’m so thankful that the mobile home owners have hung in there for so long.”
The consultation comes just months after the new Residential Landlord and Tenant Act came into effect in January, following the government’s release of new regulations last fall.
But the act itself was tabled three years earlier, in November 2012. At the time, Dixon said, protections for mobile home owners didn’t come up as an issue.
Asked whether she felt the timing of the announcement was intended to take a piece of ammunition out of the NDP’s arsenal in the lead-up to an election, White said this isn’t a political issue.
“I will take it now, because this is to the betterment of people within the parks,” she said. “This had nothing to do with political gains for me.”
A paper survey is available at the Residential Tenancies Office at 307 Black Street in Whitehorse. An online version is also available at www.community.gov.yk.ca. The survey will run from April 6 to June 6.
Contact Maura Forrest at