Ruling Confirms RTA Does Not Apply to Seasonal Campgrounds

A recent decision of the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) affirms that the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) does not apply to seasonal, recreational campgrounds BUT campground operators need to be vigilant in ensuring that their documentation and management practices conform to Zoning and use restrictions and the terms of Licenses of Occupation.  The case in question, Green Acre Park RV Park v. Santos, is not a binding “precedent” but its reasoning is persuasive.

In Green Acre, the campground operator was subject to zoning which required that the Park be closed for at least 2 months between October to March of each calendar year. The licensing documentation confirmed restrictions of residency that were consistent with the Park closure. During the designated closure of January 1 to March 31, the operator diligently ensured that signage and gates were used to clarify the closure of the park; rules prohibited overnight stays (although campers could inspect their trailers or use them during the day); and the “resident” manager would police and enforce the prohibition on overnight stays.

The camper in question owned a “park model” trailer, with running gear removed and which (it was argued by the camper) could not be moved.  It was fully insulated and capable of being occupied year round and was the camper’s only residence; however, the rental documents made it clear that the camper had to maintain a permanent residence elsewhere.  Prior to renting, the camper was given a copy of applicable zoning by-laws and full disclosure of the occupancy restrictions in both the license and the rules.  The documents used by the operator distinguished between seasonal camping fees (plus HST) and the fees payable for “winterization services” and winter storage.

All of these factors led the LTB to conclude that the intention of the arrangement was that the “living accommodation” be occupied for seasonal purposes in a “campground, trailer park” etc..  The LTB also stated that the camper could not convert the use from seasonal to a residential tenancy by breaking the contractual agreement and staying in the park model through the closed period while avoiding security and bringing in water, etc. to maintain home services.  Bottom line: the camper was required to honour the intended use and the operator’s disciplined management of the campground made it clear that the mutual intended use was seasonal and therefore the RTA does not apply.

The Green Acre decision affirms the practice of most responsible campground operators and can be used to defend against spurious claims by campers that the RTA applies.  If you use and implement proper documentation and enforce your rules, you can avoid the adverse consequences that flow from a declaration by the LTB that the RTA applies to your Park.

Questions about seasonal campgrounds?

Contact Joe Hoffer at Cohen Highley LLP.

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