Sooke seeks to collect delinquent mobile home taxes

Thirty homes in mobile parks are in arrears in taxes, according to District of Sooke documents.

With delinquent mobile home taxes difficult to  collect, Sooke officials are looking at a better way to collect past-due amounts.

Thirty homes in mobile parks are in arrears in taxes, according to District of Sooke documents released last week.

“This has been the case for a number of years with these particular properties. The total property taxes owing on these delinquent properties is approximately $48,953 (delinquent amount of approximately $29,000),” said Brent Blackhall, director of financial services.

The district cannot take mobile homes in a mobile home park to tax sale since the property taxes are not owing regarding land.

The tax sale provisions in the Local Government Act only apply to real property (the land and improvement on the land).

Since a tax sale is not an option for these delinquent accounts, the district has attempted in the past to seek other remedies, including using a collection agency, Blackhall said.

Under B.C. law, municipalities have remedies to get taxes from delinquent mobile home owners including:

• Seize and sell the mobile home owner’s belongings.

• Register a lien against the property.

• Obtain a B.C. Supreme Court order under the Manufactured Home Act for enforcement options including garnishment and the sale of personal property.

Mayor Maja Tait said while she believes something needs to be done, putting people out on the street is not one of them.

“Seizing the item seems harsh to me,” she said.

When the municipality holds its annual tax sale, property owners have 12 months to pay the taxes due before the property is handed over to the purchaser.

“I’m not comfortable with selling someone’s home without giving them that 12-month grace period, but I also think anyone living in a mobile home should be paying taxes to the district,” said Coun. Bev Berger, adding she would like to know how other municipalities deal with the issue.

Council decided to ask municipal staff for a report and to make recommendations for further action.

“We need to do further research on whether these are primary owners or renters,” said Teresa Sullivan, chief administrative officer.

“We need a much better understanding on what we’re dealing with here.”

Sullivan added the municipality would take no further action against the mobile home owners, including placing a lien on the property, until after council receives the report.

The District of Sooke billed 5,855 property tax folios in 2016 and 5,256, or 89.7 per cent have paid in full as of Aug. 31.