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West Kelowna  

Eviction notice a 'slap in face'

A West Kelowna couple facing eviction from their home on Westbank First Nation land have been “slapped in the face” by management of their mobile home park, says their lawyer.

Paul Varga of the law firm Pearce, Taylor, Schneiderat says the operators of Jubilee Mobile Home Park could have negotiated with tenants Ed Schneider and Ross Arnot, but instead demanded their garage for use as a maintenance facility with no compensation, despite the duo being “model tenants” for more than six years.

When they refused, the locatee land owner and park management company, Princess Enterprises, demanded the entire home.

Now, Scheider and Arnot face the dilemma of continuing their fight at considerable expense or throwing in the towel and moving the modular home from the waterfront property. Either way, it could cost them $50,000 or more.

“Unfortunately, it could happen to anyone renting on native land,” Varga cautioned.

“They don’t have an actual lease; it’s a month-to-month tenancy agreement.”

He described the situation as being subject to similar rules to a tenancy agreement in an apartment building.

The couple was originally given only two weeks notice, which Varga challenged, but a WFN arbitration panel ruled in the park’s favour even after it demanded the entire property.

“We argued that the demand was made in bad faith, but lost that round,” he said.

The couple now has 30 days to decide if they want to file for a judicial review in B.C. Supreme Court that the matter was handled unfairly.

Varga explained that under rules similar to the Residential Tenancy Act, if the trailer pad is required for maintenance purposes, the management can take it.

“But the original letter didn’t say they needed the entire pad, just the garage, and at no point have they offered compensation. Unfortunately, the rules allow them to do that.”

Moreover, on native land, there is no cap on costs if the couple lose their battle to stay in their home.

“Princess could ask the adjudicator to rule against them – plus make them pay court costs, too.”

Varga said the Westside has a lot more native land than many communities, and while this could happen to any tenant, there is not a lot of precedent for it.

“If you have a lease, then there’s something the bank can have some security on. But, there’s no security for someone who owns a trailer on a rented lot. 

“It costs a lot of money to move these things, and part of their home is its waterfront location, so even if it is moved off the property, it cost them even more in lost value.”

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