Surrey group advocates for manufactured home owner rights

SURREY — A Surrey group is set to appear before council next Monday to ask for better protection and stronger rights for those living in mobile and manufactured homes.

“What we’re trying to do is be collaborative… We’re going to ask them to start to have a process so we can have a staff person delegated to our particular circumstances,” said Roz Bailey, president of the Surrey Manufactured Home Owners Association. “We are unique. We have all the responsibilities of homeowners but none of the rights. We pay taxes on our homes. Just for a sheer sense of justice, it’s not fair.”

The organization, formed in the ‘60s, says there are approximately 3,000 voters who own 1,529 manufactured homes in Surrey. Pad rentals range from $350 to $950, the group says, with an average annual increase of four to five per cent. This is squeezing out some renters, especially seniors, they say, as they can’t afford the ever-increasing cost.

There are a few main issues the association wants to see addressed by the municipality: increasing monetary compensation for tenants when parks are redeveloped, addressing zoning issues and creating a standards of maintenance bylaw specifically for manufactured and mobile home park owners to force owners to upkeep their properties.

The group hopes Surrey will look to Coquitlam’s bylaw, which they say has "teeth."

As well, the association wants the city to delegate a staff member to work with them to help make the changes.

Although the provincial government has jurisdiction over many of the problems, the group is focused on improving things at a local level.

“Right at this moment, we’re focusing on the municipal issues because the election is coming up,” said Bailey. “Besides, you have to start with grassroots.”

When mobile home parks are sold and redeveloped, the provincial Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act states park owners have to provide 12 months of rent to those being forced out of their homes.

The group argues that’s not enough and that moving expenses should be provided as well, estimating it can cost upwards of $8,000 to move such a home. And some homes can’t withstand a move.

Bailey said another issue is that there are very few places to move to with a manufactured home after being forced out of a park.

She added that she is not against development, but right now there’s no protection for this particular type of homeowner when properties are redeveloped.

The association also hopes to tackle the issue of “slum landlords.”

The group says there are many rundown parks in Surrey and it’s common to see garbage dumpsters overflowing, cracked pavement within the park’s roads, broken-down facilities and amenities, as well as unkept and dangerous landscaping.

And Bailey suggested there’s a direct connection between how well an area is maintained and crime.

Lillian Bailey, a resident of the decrepit Beladean Motel and Trailer Park along King George Boulevard in Newton, told the Now last October that she had been without electricity for more than a month after an excavator accidentally cut it while tearing down some cabins near the entrance of the park.

That situation is one the Surrey Manufactured Home Owners Association never wants to see happen again.

Kandas Hufsmith, also with the group, said there are many positive aspects to the lifestyle and it’s an affordable housing option she wants to see grow in Surrey.

“I like the fact that I have nobody underneath me, nobody above me, and nobody touching the walls beside me or behind me. That was one of the reasons why we chose it,” said Hufsmith. “Another reason is because my husband is a lot older than I am. Our income didn’t allow us to buy a house or a condo or a townhome, nothing other than a mobile home. We purchased ours for $18,000 and fixed it up and it’s our home.”

The group hopes the community will come out to support them at the Surrey council meeting on Oct. 20, when they are set to speak.

areid@thenownewspaper.com

-With files from Tom Zytaruk

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