NDP fights for mobile home owner protections

NDP MLA Kate White is calling for stronger protection for mobile home owners. Uncontrolled pad rent increases and the possibility of evictions without cause hurt trailer owners.

NDP MLA Kate White is calling for stronger protection for mobile home owners.

Uncontrolled pad rent increases and the possibility of evictions without cause hurt trailer owners, who are insecure in their living situation despite owning their home, she said.

White spent three months this summer knocking on mobile home doors, talking to residents and collecting signatures on a petition, which was tabled in the legislative assembly this month.

She heard “resounding calls for help,” and collected about 350 names for the petition, she said.

She wants to see a cap on pad rent increases, so trailer owners won’t be priced out of their own homes.

“You can’t plan for the future, if you have no idea what your monthly rent will be in five years.”

It’s not true that you can just move your trailer if you can’t pay the rent increase, said White.

“For one thing, there’s nowhere to move them.”

Many of the trailers are too old to move, or have been built up with permanent additions or arctic entrances, she said.

To move a trailer you also have to meet current building codes at the new location, and lots of them won’t, said White.

Even when a move is possible, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to do it, she said.

Owners have the option to sell, but the lack of protections against rent increases and evictions make it hard to do so, said White.

“If you own a home that you put a lot of care and maintenance into, you’re not going to be able to sell it.”

Under the current Landlord and Tenant Act, a trailer park owner can evict a mobile home without cause from the land with about a year’s notice.

The provision is the same in the updated landlord tenant act, which passed two years ago but has yet to come into effect because the new regulations haven’t been finalized.

The new act has the additional provision that, in the event that a trailer park is closing for good, 18 months notice must be given to all residents.

Colleen Tyrner, a resident of a Whitehorse trailer park, said she really worries about losing her home because the rent is raised beyond her ability to pay, or because the land is sold for some other purpose.

In her 70s, she’s already given up her cell phone and cable TV, and taken a part-time job, to pay for rising costs of living, she said.

“It’s going to mean that I lose the little home that I love. Nobody’s going to buy my trailer because the pad rents are too high, and they’re going to price themselves out of my ability to pay the bill.”

She’s a widow, just like a lot of her neighbours in the park, said Tyrner.

She doesn’t want to end up in seniors’ housing because she can’t pay the bills.

Her trailer park owners seem to be fair, she said. “And I really honestly believe that people are entitled to a profit.”

But that shouldn’t mean that there shouldn’t be protections, so that she can stay in her home, said Tyrner.

“There’s nothing to protect me against him issuing that eviction notice. If he gets an offer from some land developer for $10 million for this land, I’m yesterday’s news. I have no protection here at all. He can raise the rent $100.”

In her trailer, she has a yard, a fence and privacy.

“When you get to be old, you make a lot of noise. I cry sometimes when I think about my husband, and in here I can just wail away and not bother anybody. In seniors’ housing, they’re going to call mental health,” said Tyrner, laughing.

If she had to move to seniors’ housing, she’d lose her dog, Lucy.

“At three o’clock in the morning, when it’s dark, and all is lost, sometimes only that little heartbeat in your ear keeps you going.

“I don’t have a lot of years left. And I would like to spend them with Lucy, under this roof.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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