Assessment Procedures for Permanent Trailers - Questions & Answers

Questions for Campground Owners


Questions for Campground Owners

Why did the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assess trailers?

The assessment of permanent trailers in campgrounds has been a controversial and an unresolved issue for many years. The issue centres on whether the trailers meet the definition of land and real property in section 1 of the Assessment Act and are, therefore, assessable.

In 1990, the then Minister of Revenue placed a moratorium on the assessment of any trailers in seasonal campgrounds pending a resolution that was acceptable to municipalities, the Ontario Private Campground Association and the Ontario Government.

The moratorium resulted in many inequities:

  • Some trailers in seasonal campgrounds are assessed and some are not (e.g., a trailer placed in the park before 1990 as compared to one placed in the park after 1990).
  • Units in mobile home parks are assessed while units in seasonal campgrounds are not, even though they may be similar.
  • Seasonal cottage properties are assessed while seasonal trailers are not.

The moratorium policy was never reflected in legislation. This led to challenges against the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and the inconsistent treatment of trailers. In one situation, referred to as the Bluewater decision, the municipality brought action against both the property owner and MPAC because the trailers (park model home units) were not assessed and consequently, taxes were not being paid on the trailers. All parties conceded that the trailers were permanent and assessable. Subsequent to this, a settlement was reached between the municipality and the property owner regarding the taxes. To put the settlement into effect, MPAC determined the assessment on the trailers, as required under the Assessment Act.

MPAC is required, by law, to assess all trailers that meet the definition of land and real property since the Assessment Act requires that all permanent structures are assessed. Therefore, trailers that are permanent structures are assessable.

Are all trailers assessed?

Only those trailers that are permanent structures are assessed. The main factors MPAC considers are:

  • Is the trailer greater than 8'6" wide?
    Modular, manufactured, mobile home or park model units generally fall within this category.
  • Is the trailer 8'6" wide or less, but has an attachment making the trailer immobile without its removal?
    Examples include enclosed porches, sunrooms (Florida rooms) or garages

As further indicators of the degree or intent of permanence, MPAC gathers and reviews the following information: the existence of a foundation or supporting structure; whether the undercarriage has been removed; permanent connections to water, electricity and waste disposal; whether the unit’s tow tongue has been removed; and whether the unit would require an oversize permit for road travel.

How does MPAC determine the assessments for these trailers?

  • To arrive at the current value assessment, the following information is considered:
  • the living area of the trailer plus additions;
  • the condition of the trailer;
  • the age of the trailer;
  • other structures which may or may not be attached to the trailer, such as a deck, carport, garage, shed or sunroom.

Trailers depreciate similar to other vehicles. Does MPAC take depreciation into account when placing a value on trailers?

MPAC does take depreciation into account in determining the value of the trailer. We have worked closely with the Ontario Private Campground Association and the RV industry to better understand the effect depreciation has on the overall value of trailers. The depreciation is based on the age and condition of the trailer. As the trailer ages, the amount of depreciation increases.

Does MPAC have the right to inspect campgrounds?

Section 10(1) of the Assessment Act states that upon producing proper identification, the assessor, and any assistant of and designated by the assessor, will at all reasonable times and upon reasonable request, be given free access to all land. This section applies to all land whether owned or leased and all structures on the land. While assessors do have this right, in many cases, the assessor can gather the information needed to assess the trailer without the need to go inside each trailer.

What information does the assessor gather during the inspection of a campground?

The assessor carries out a full inspection of the campground, including thereview of existing structures, building permits, the number of sites, services,etc. In addition, assessors carry out a full review of all trailers and siteslocated within the park.

MPAC is asking me to collect names and mailing addresses from the trailer owners so that their names can be recorded for voters’ lists and jurors’ lists. Does this contravene any privacy information?

MPAC is required to collect certain specified information for the purposes of municipal and school board elections and jurors’ lists. Under section 10 of the Assessment Act, any adult person present on the land when the MPAC assessor visits the property is required to provide the assessor with all information needed to complete the assessment. The assessment of a property includes the names and mailing addresses of the tenants on their property. Therefore, campground owners are specifically authorized to provide MPAC with the information that we have requested. MPAC will, in turn, mail an occupancy questionnaire to each tenant and ask them to provide the remaining information needed to record their names on the voters’ list. This information includes: the name of each occupant; gender; date of birth; citizenship; occupancy status (owner, tenant, spouse or other); whether the person lives in the unit, in the municipality, or in another municipality; whether the person is Roman Catholic or not; whether the person has French Language Education rights or not; and school support.

What is the tax class for campgrounds?

Campgrounds are classified as residential property and taxed at the residential tax rate.  However, portions of the campground may be classified as commercial if commercial activity is being conducted on the property (e.g., a store).

Why did I receive an Omitted Property Assessment Notice in 2003?

MPAC began inspecting campgrounds throughout the Province of Ontario in 2002. In those campgrounds that were inspected, information about the trailers within the park was collected. Assessments were determined only for those trailers that met the criteria described in the question, “Are all trailers assessed?“

Under subsection 33(1) of the Assessment Act, MPAC is required to issue an omitted assessment for any land that has been omitted in whole or in part from the tax roll for the current year or for any part or all of the two preceding years. Based on this, MPAC should have issued omitted assessments for all assessable trailers for 2001, 2002 and 2003. However, on October 30, 2003, the Minister of Finance filed Ontario Regulation 390/03 prescribing an exception to this requirement, requiring MPAC not to issue omitted assessments for the 2001 and 2002 taxation years. Therefore, as required by the Assessment Act, MPAC prepared and mailed Omitted Property Assessment Notices for the 2003 tax year. These notices were mailed in November 2003 for those campgrounds where assessments had been completed, reflecting the value of the assessable trailers.

In situations where MPAC staff were denied access to the campgrounds, the assessed value was estimated based on the values of similar properties in the vicinity and this amount was reflected in the omitted assessment.

In 2004, the Ministry of Finance announced that it was canceling the omitted assessments. How does this affect me?

After the Omitted Property Assessment Notices were mailed in 2003 advising campground owners of the omitted assessments, both campground owners and trailer owners expressed their concerns about the challenges and hardships that they faced due to the 2003 omitted assessments and the resulting tax bills being issued at the end of the tax year after many of the parks had closed for the season. In response to these concerns, on March 10, 2004, the Ministry of Finance issued a news release announcing that it was canceling the omitted assessments for the 2003 taxation year. Ontario Regulation 55/04 was filed, amending Ontario Regulation 390/03, canceling the omitted assessments for the 2003 tax year and requiring MPAC not to issue any further omitted assessments for 2003.

In the Government’s 2003 Budget Bill, municipalities were directed to make the appropriate tax adjustments to reflect the cancellation of the 2003 omitted assessments. Since MPAC is not involved in the tax collection process, you should contact your municipality for more information.

Does the Ministry of Finance announcement mean that trailers are not assessable?

No. This announcement only affected the 2003 omitted assessments. The Ministry of Finance stated that trailers exhibiting characteristics of permanency will continue to be assessed and liable for property taxation for 2004 and future years. Ontario Regulation 390/03, as amended, also does not cancel the assessments on any trailers that had been assessed in prior years.

Why did an MPAC representative inspect my campground in 2004?

MPAC did not complete the inspection of all campgrounds in 2002 and 2003 and therefore continued its inspection program in 2004. These inspections were completed by the end of the summer of 2004. As the inspections were completed, MPAC calculated the revised assessments, indicating the breakdown for the trailers. This information is being forwarded by letter to the campground owners, as the calculations are completed.

If my campground is first assessed in 2004, will the assessments affect only the 2004 tax year?

Yes. In 2004, you will receive an Omitted Property Assessment Notice indicating the additional assessment for your campground. This amount reflects only the value of the trailers, and is not the total assessed value of your property. The omitted assessment will take effect on January 1, 2004. If a trailer was moved onto its site later in 2004, the trailer will only be assessable for that portion of the year after it became permanent.

You will also receive a 2004 Property Assessment Notice in November or December, 2004. This Notice will reflect the total value of your campground, including the land, the value of all permanent trailers, and the value of any other structures or improvements on the campground.

Please refer to the question, “I don’t agree with the value shown on my Notice. Who should I contact to have it reviewed?” regarding your options if you disagree with your assessment.

Why were the campground owners not notified in advance that the trailers were being assessed?

Before beginning the initial inspection process, MPAC contacted the Ontario Private Campground Association (OPCA) to ensure that they were aware of MPAC’s requirement to assess permanent trailers. We understand the OPCA shared this information with its membership through many bulletins and updates. MPAC began inspecting campgrounds in August 2002. At the time of the inspection, MPAC staff explained to the owner MPAC’s requirement to assess permanent trailers. As well, MPAC continues to have ongoing communications with the OPCA.

In 2004, MPAC sent a letter to all campground owners prior to the inspections, along with additional information that they were encouraged to share with their tenants. An MPAC property inspector then contacted the campground owner to arrange a suitable time to visit the property.

Note: The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between this information and the current law. This information is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.