Merlin Cumming died last week, falling off his bicycle in a freak accident. Barely 50, Merlin was riding home with his childhood sweetheart and wife Charlene, and another couple, when it happened. Charlene and her two sons, Conrad and Tanner, have lost the mainstay of their lives and Revelstoke has lost a good and honourable landlord.
Hundreds of people will be affected by the loss of Merlin and his incredible energy, vision and commitment. Merlin and Charlene owned the Oscar St. Mobile Home Park (MPH), Glacier Heights MPH and the Catherwood MPH and another park, I believe, in Sicamous.
Merlin told me that he also owned several apartment buildings in the interior and was looking to buy another mobile home park. He had also tried negotiating with the City to create a new park or expand his Oscar Street site. Merlin said he liked being a landlord, he thrived on it. And he knew and honoured the fact that he controlled the largest chunk of affordable housing in Revelstoke.
In the last two years, Revelstoke rents have skyrocketed and the vacancy rate has plummeted. In these exciting turbulent times fresh new faces have raced in as hundreds of long time residents are forced out by ‘renovations’ to their rental units.
Some landlords, caught up in a whirlwind of greed and playing catch up after decades of high vacancies and low rents, pushed rents to astronomical levels. I think they forgot a key tenet of landlording – keep your long-term tenants. Keep them and avoid the revolving door and destruction of short term renters. Keep your tenants with reasonable rents, doing the repairs, being fair and by keeping your word.
Merlin understood that.
He was my landlord. He was reasonable, open, fair, and smart. Somehow, like a benevolent shepherd, he knew he held our lives in his hands. He kept his rents affordable, made the improvements, and made himself available. Merlin was a good man and a good landlord.
His sudden passing is a great loss and he will be missed by many.
Barbara J. Little