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Sherkston Shores property lessees sue over abruptly high rate hikes

More than 120 homeowners leasing land at Sherkston Shores in Ontario have filed a class-action lawsuit against the property’s owner, saying they have been blindsided by rate hikes as high as 28 percent since Carefree Resorts took over the park in 2013.

The suit against Arizona-based Carefree Resorts alleges that the company violated Canada’s Residential Tenancies Act of 2006, which states that landlords cannot increase tenant rent by more than the rate of inflation, or 2.5 percent.

Carefree says Sherkston would be exempt from the Tenancies Act because it does not include seasonal properties. But there is some disagreement as to whether Sherkston homeowners should be considered seasonal. Homeowners said they have always been able to visit the park during the winter, even though water service was shut off during those months. Carefree has since instituted a policy denying residents access to the park from Oct. 31 through May 1.

Homeowners also said they were continuously assured under previous ownership that rent increases would never exceed 2 percent per year.

Carefree Resorts said it has been upfront with residents about annual 5 percent rent increases. But residents said their rent and fees have gone up by much more.

Hardest hit were homeowners along the waterfront in the Rocky Beach neighborhood outside the park’s exclusive Wyldewood Beach community. Carefree increased rates there from about $5,500 per season to around $12,500 per season.

In response to the hike, roughly 200 Sherkston homeowners have put their trailers up for sale, complainants said.

Parties met in court for hearings in St. Catharines July 13 and Friday. The judge is expected to deliver a decision within 30 days of the hearing’s completion.

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