Living in a mobile home park: Are you a tenant?

Myth or fact?

A manufactured home park tenancy agreement needs to be in writing to be valid.
  • Myth
  • Fact

If you live in a mobile home park, it’s important to know your legal rights. That way, if things go wrong, you’ll know what options you have. The starting point in determining your rights is understanding your rental situation.

Figure out which laws apply to you

Your rights depend on your rental situation

Which laws apply to you as a mobile home park resident? It depends. There are three possibilities:

  • You own your mobile home and rent the site it sits on under a tenancy agreement. You’re covered by BC’s manufactured home park tenancy law.

  • You rent your mobile home and rent the site it sits on under a tenancy agreement. You’re covered by BC’s residential tenancy law.

  • You own your mobile home but merely “occupy” the site it sits on — meaning you don’t have a tenancy agreement. You’re not protected by either set of BC’s tenancy laws.

Let’s explore each of these scenarios by looking at three examples.

Scenario 1. Manufactured home tenancy

Sandy and Mark, mobile home park retirees

As part of their retirement plan, Sandy and Mark decide to downgrade from their three-bedroom house to a mobile home. They purchase a brand new RV, and choose a quiet site in a nearby mobile home park to rent. 

They meet with the landlord of the park, who presents them with a written tenancy agreement. They read the agreement, decide that they’re happy with the terms, and sign the agreement together with the landlord.

This is a manufactured home tenancy

Sandy and Mark are protected under BC's manufactured home park tenancy law because:

  • they own their mobile home

  • they rent the site it sits on

  • they entered into a tenancy agreement with their landlord

Scenario 2. Regular tenancy

Lin, manufactured home renter

Lin is a geologist on a work placement in a remote town in northern BC. She expects to stay for eight months, and needs accommodation close to the work site. She finds a manufactured home park nearby, and decides to rent a prefabricated home for the duration of her placement.

She meets with the landlord and enters into a written tenancy agreement that covers both the home and the site it sits on. 

This is a regular tenancy

Lin is protected under BC's regular residential tenancy law because:

  • she rents the manufactured home

  • she rents the site it sits on

  • she entered into a tenancy agreement with her landlord

Scenario 3. No tenancy

Julian, short-term RV park resident

Julian is a nomad who loves to travel around Canada in his RV. He pays a visit to Vancouver Island and discovers a lovely RV park in a coastal town. He decides he’d like to stay for a while, and asks the park owner if he has any spots available. 

The park owner presents Julian with an agreement with the heading “licence to occupy.” Under the agreement, Julian pays the owner rent (plus GST) on a weekly basis for as long as he stays. As well, the agreement gives the owner the right to evict Julian at any time, without notice. And Julian has the right to leave at any time, also without notice.

There is no tenancy here

Julian is not covered by either of BC’s tenancy laws because:

  • he owns the RV

  • he is only occupying the site it sits on

  • he doesn’t have a tenancy agreement with the park owner

It's the substance of the agreement that counts

Even if you sign something called a “licence to occupy,” you could still have a tenancy agreement. It’s the substance of the agreement that decides the question. See below, under factors to consider.

What you should know

How the law treats mobile homes

BC law doesn’t use the term “mobile home.” Instead, what we would typically call a mobile home or RV falls under the definition of “manufactured home.”  

The law in BC defines a manufactured home as a structure — with or without wheels — that is:

  • designed or built to be moved from one place to another by being towed or carried, and

  • is used or intended to be used as a living accommodation.

Many different structures — including manufactured homes not built to code or structures that aren’t typically considered to be manufactured homes — could fall under this definition. In deciding whether a structure is a manufactured home, an arbitrator will look at all of the surrounding circumstances.

BC has laws that protect manufactured home owners

“When my husband and I retired four years ago, we moved out of our apartment and into a mobile home park. We’ve made this our new home, so we were caught by surprise when our landlord — totally out of the blue — tried to evict us last month. He argued that since we only had a “licence to occupy,” he had the right to ask us to leave without notice. We took the matter to a hearing, and the arbitrator decided that we had a tenancy agreement. Now, we have 12 months to sort out a new plan before we need to leave.”

– Marjorie, Delta

In BC, there’s a law that applies specifically to manufactured home park tenancies. Under this law, manufactured home owners who rent a site in a manufactured home park have certain legal rights. 

However, not every rental situation is covered. Only renters who have a tenancy agreement with their landlord fall within the scope of this law. Renters without a tenancy agreement generally don’t have the same legal rights and protections. 

Unfortunately, figuring out if you have a tenancy agreement isn’t always simple. Nothing’s in writing? You may still have an agreement. Your landlord calls it something else — like a licence to occupy? You may still have an agreement.

Do you have a tenancy agreement or a licence to occupy?

BC’s main law that applies to manufactured home parks only covers those who have a tenancy agreement. It doesn’t cover those who live in a manufactured home park under a licence to occupy. 

Tenancy agreement

Under the law, a tenancy agreement is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant regarding:

  • the occupation of a manufactured home park site

  • the use of common areas, and 

  • the use of services and facilities.

The agreement can be written or oral. It can also be express (you and your landlord are both aware of the terms and agree on them) or implied. Implied tenancy agreements can be tricky, as we explain below.

Licence to occupy

Under a licence to occupy a person is given permission to use a site, but it can be taken away at any time. In other words, a landlord can evict the licensee at any time without notice.

However, just because your landlord calls your agreement a licence to occupy doesn’t mean it is one. Sometimes a licence to occupy is a tenancy agreement in disguise.

Tenancy agreements can be implied

Generally, there is a presumption that a tenancy agreement has been created if:

  • the tenant has exclusive possession of the site — subject to the landlord’s right to access it — for a defined term, and

  • the tenant pays a fixed amount for rent.

Even if your landlord calls your agreement a licence to occupy, the law may view it as a tenancy agreement. That means you’d have greater legal protection.

There are several key factors that distinguish a tenancy agreement from a licence to occupy. A court or arbitrator would weigh all of them in deciding whether a tenancy agreement exists. 

Below, we explain three of the main factors.

Factors to consider

Factor 1. Is the home your permanent primary residence?

The law that applies to manufactured home park tenants is meant to protect those who intend to use the site as a primary residence. It’s not meant to protect those who intend to use it for a short-term vacation or for recreation. 

In deciding this question an arbitrator will look for “features of permanence,” such as:

  • the home is hooked up to services or facilities meant for permanent housing (for example, a water connection)

  • the tenant has added permanent features, like a deck or carport, which the landlord has permitted

  • the tenant lives in the home year-round

  • the home hasn’t been moved for a long time

  • the home has been legally registered as a manufactured home

Factor 2. Is the site you rent in an RV park or campground?

BC’s manufactured home park law isn’t intended to apply to seasonal campgrounds or mobile home parks that are used as temporary accommodation. But there are situations where an RV or mobile home may be considered a permanent residence. 

Here are some tip-offs that suggest a site in an RV park or campground may not be a permanent residence:

  • the park owner has access or control over parts of the site and can enter without notice

  • rent is charged at a daily or weekly rate (rather than monthly) and the occupier pays goods and services tax (GST) on the rent

  • the parties have agreed that the occupier may be evicted without notice, or can leave without notice

  • the park owner pays for utilities like electricity and wifi

Factor 3. What is your relationship with the landlord?

If you and your landlord have a family or personal relationship, this makes it less likely that you’ll be found to have a tenancy agreement. That’s because your relationship suggests the living arrangement flows from generosity rather than business considerations.

For example, if a family member pays no rent (or highly reduced rent), an arbitrator may conclude that the family members didn’t intend to have a formal tenancy relationship.

For an in-depth look at this topic, see the provincial government’s guidelines.

Take action

If you are in a manufactured home tenancy, learn your rights and how to work out problems.

  • Reviewed in March 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 7 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Michael Drouillard, Harper Grey LLP

Michael Drouillard

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