A group of Okotoks residents are frustrated over a lack of response from the provincial government on calls to reform the Mobile Home Tenancy Act.
Residents of Heritage Estates mobile home park approached Town of Okotoks council in September 2015 over concerns with park owner Lansdowne Equity Ventures, citing high pad rental rates, unwanted cable fees, maintenance issues and a perceived lack of concern for the welfare of its residents.
Mobile home owners asked the Town to form a mobile home advisory board. The issue returned in October 2015, when council opted to collect more information, including a legal opinion, before making a decision. In February 2016, council voted to not form an advisory board and proposed creating a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to have legislation for mobile home park tenants brought more in line with the province’s Residential Tenancies Act.
“AUMA did receive a response from the minister of Service Alberta and the Status of Women,” said Coun. Tanya Thorn, who is also an AUMA board member. “In their response they’ve indicated they will be doing something, but they haven’t indicated exactly what they’ll be doing or when.”
She said a letter from the minister stated mobile home park tenants currently have the ability to apply to the provincial court and Court of Queen’s Bench in the event of a dispute, including if they feel they are the victims of economic eviction. It also indicated the Province intends to instate an affordable housing review committee, which would develop recommendations to ensure Albertans have access to safe and affordable housing.
Thorn said AUMA accepted the letter and will continue to monitor the issue over the next few months and see what happens.
“We’ve got a bit of a disconnect between a renter that’s in an apartment and a mobile home tenant,” said Thorn. “They’ve acknowledged that issue, which is good, but they haven’t really put any structure around what their course of action will be or how long it will take them to make a course of action to resolve the issue.”
She said it doesn’t seem to be a priority of the current government, despite having the backing of several municipalities.
Heritage Estates resident Ken Hood said it’s frustrating, to say the least.
“I think it’s a typical government response of inaction,” said Hood. “Even though the municipalities have passed it, even though the mayors have passed it, it gets to the politicians in Edmonton and they say, ‘Let’s look at it, we’ll study it.’
“But, this is a real issue for us, this is our lives.”
He said the $950 pad rental at Heritage Estates did not increase last June, as it had in the past. Residents are waiting on pins and needles to see what happens for 2017, he said.
Maintenance continues to be an issue at the mobile home park, where residents were promised two years ago there would be fences fixed and common areas cleaned up, he said.
Several homes put up for sale have taken months to find a buyer, sometimes up to an entire year. Some of Lansdowne’s own lots have remained vacant for some time, he said.
Hood says that’s because of the park condition and exorbitant pad rental fees. Most comparable parks in southern Alberta run rental fees at an average of $700 per month, he said.
“My fear of our places not being worth anything because of the excessive pad rent, I believe is coming true,” said Hood.
He said having a mobile home tenancy act with some teeth in it would provide homeowners an avenue for dispute resolution without the expense of having to take matters to court.
The Western Wheel attempted to contact Lansdowne Equity Ventures, however, interview requests were not returned before deadline.
Highwood MLA Wayne Anderson said he’s doesn’t feel the issue is a priority in the legislature.
“There’s no sense of urgency with this government at this time,” said Anderson. “They’re more focused on their labour bill and unionization and they’re really not interested in this right now.
“If anything will happen it will be next fall. There’s nothing I can see in the legislation coming through at this time.”