WESTBANK – A dispute between two tenants in a mobile home park and a mobile home park owner has nothing whatsoever to do with the Westbank First Nation, Chief Robert Louie says.
Ross Arnot and his partner Ed Schneider took a dispute with their landlords public this week as they face eviction from unit 144 of the Jubilee Mobile Home Park on Boucherie Road where they’ve lived since 2007.
The dispute is not uncommon in mobile home parks, but as Arnot and Schneider went public, a local news story suggested it was an issue of living on Westbank First Nation land. Louie says the dispute has nothing to do with the band.
"Tenants of mobile home parks, on or off reserve, do not own the land on which they reside and are subject to the agreements they sign,” Louie said in a prepared statement today. “In this case, the law has deemed the landlord to be within their legal rights to end this tenancy.”
Public reaction and accusations about property rights on Westbank First Nation land appears to have prompted Louie’s statement. Requests for an interview were denied.
Arnot and Schneider have tried several times to fight the eviction notice they were first informed of in January 2014. At that time, the dispute was over a garage Arnot and Schneider mistakenly thought they purchased with their mobile home.
“When we moved in we got title to the house and all the things to be included like dishwasher, stove and stuff like that, including a garage door opener,” Arnot says. “We don’t know why they are evicting us but the official reason they have given is that they want to use the garage as a maintenance facility.... If they’re going to give a garage door opener why would they not be including the garage?”
Although the park is on Westbank First Nation land, the laws are much the same across B.C. and two attempts at arbitration have since failed.
In a written decision dated June 30, 2014, WFN Arbitrator Robert E. Groves writes “the tenants do not own the garage. It is, nevertheless, a service or facility that the tenants have enjoyed as a consequence of their occupying the premises pursuant to the terms of their tenancy agreement.”
Arnot and Schneider now have until April 1 to move their home or sell it, something Arnot says will be quite difficult and likely result in a financial loss.
"If we can't afford to move the house we'll be looking at a loss of at least $300,000," he says.
Arnot says he resents how hard it has been to get in touch with park management to find a resolution to the problem or even get answers to simple questions.
“In seven years I have seen (the manager) twice and spoken to her very, very briefly once,” he says. “We’re up against a hard place and we don’t know what to do.”
Repeated calls to the park manager and Princess Enterprises were not returned.
A detailed list of all WFN tenancy laws can be found at this website.
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