Cottagers at Crooked Lake, Manitoba facing 700% rent increase

In 2007, Grant Singer signed a $757-a-year lease with the Sakimay First Nation for an undeveloped lakefront lot on Crooked Lake, just 140 kilometers ease of Regina. There, he lived quietly with his family for years, having already spent an estimated $45,000 moving an old farmhouse onto the property, connecting to electricity, as well as adding in a septic system and a basement.

In 2009, his landlord decided to increase his rent to $4,500 a year based on an independent appraisal. That's a 500 per cent jump. To make matters worse, some cottagers saw their rent skyrocket by as much as 700 per cent. This unfair increase in rent prompted Singer and other cottagers to launch a class-action lawsuit against the federal government.

In 2016, a Federal Court judge came to a decision siding with the tenants where the rates should be based on the tenants' appraiser over that of their landlord's. The court then found out that the cottagers owed far less than what Sakimay had demanded. For Singer, his rate still went up, but only by a more reasonable 54 per cent from $757 to $1,162 annually.

Unfortunately, the judge's decision only covers the 4-year period between 2010 and 2014. Sakimay still expects their tenants to pay the higher lease rates from 2015 until today. The cottagers plan on challenging that in court too. However, from the looks of it, Sakimay isn't budging and has even put up the cottages for sale because of the on-going dispute.

Singer says that he believes that no one will be foolish enough to scoop up the property at its value; although he did say that "they can have the headache" pertaining to anyone who would dare buy the property.

A Sakimay First Nation official has since stated that they are working on new leasing arrangements that will include dispute resolution mechanisms that will serve to help both sides hash out similar problems without the need for local action.