At least seven households have been disputing eviction notices, claims of rent payments owed and tenants’ rights with the new owner of the Lower Montague Trailer Park through IRAC (Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission).
Janet Sturgess purchased the 6.5 acre park, which hosts more than 30 mobile homes, from the Lower Montague Trailer Park Co- operative in April. The co-operative had owned the property since 2004.
Some tenants who received eviction notices started to move out before IRAC had made any decisions. Others fought termination notices unsuccessfully through IRAC and have since been asked to leave the premises.
A few, whose notices of termination were ordered to be set aside by IRAC, are now waiting for decisions on appeals filed by Ms Sturgess.
In several cases where notices of termination were set aside, IRAC ruled any payments the affected tenants may have owed the co-operative did not justify eviction by the current owner.
Ms Sturgess set rent at $200 per month effective May 1 and that is the only amount owed to Ms Sturgess for rent.
Ms Sturgess’s reasons to appeal IRAC’s decision include what she sees as inconsistent interpretations and misinterpretations of the evidence she produced and of the Rent and Residential Property Act.
Neil and Linda Snook and Chris MacKinnon are among those whose eviction notices were ordered to be set aside and who are now waiting to hear the results of Ms Sturgess’s appeal.
Ms Sturgess claims some evidence was overlooked by IRAC and both Mr MacKinnon and the Snooks have continued to violate municipal bylaws and park rules since she acquired the property. Both parties deny these later claims.
She also said IRAC overstepped its authority when concluding $300 each party had paid her was allocated to rent rather than to pay off the debt they owed the co-op.
Mr MacKinnon did not attend his phone-in hearing to counter Ms Sturgess’s appeal or to pro- vide his perspective on September 2. He told the panel he couldn’t make the appointment because he needed to meet other time commitments in order to move his trailer from the park.
“It’s not worth the stress,” said Mr MacKinnon, who harvests soft shell clams and does carpentry work for a living.
He said, even if IRAC rules in his favour allowing him to stay he will move out of the park where he has lived for 11 years.
The Snooks feel a similar need to move despite winning their case.They said they will need to purchase land in the area and move their home and their belongings. They also want to avoid uprooting their children.
Ms Sturgess said her goal was to freshen up the park and create a peaceful, quiet and enjoy- able living environment for tenants.
IRAC hadn’t released any decision on ongoing appeals by press time.
Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic