May 1st, 2013
Calgary Landlord Kius Pahlavan describes his experience as ‘filthy, damaging and mortifying’ while cleaning a government approved teenage tenant’s mess in his rental suite
According to a report on CTV News in Calgary Pahlavan approved of renting his suite to the teenager through the government. When the tenant relentlessly damaged and trashed the suite, the government ignored this information and his request for help.
Pahlavan revealed that “the damage they did is like a horror movie.” The one bedroom suite looks appalling with holes on the drywall, a sharp knife stuck on the bedroom wall and vomit all over the sink.
Three months earlier, Pahlavan had an open house for the spotless suite, when a staff from social services persuaded him to rent the suite to an 18-year-old tenant. While our Mayor is pushing for more legal suites in Calgary, this government worker wasn’t on the landlords’ side and serves as a warning for Calgary landlords.
“He really kind of convinced me that most probably there will be no trouble,” Pahlavan said.
Although the social worker assured Pahlavan that he’d check on the kid on a regular basis and made a deposit of $775 in cash for damages, he did not sign the lease or leave any credentials to which agency he belonged. Pahlavan said “The phone number, a cell phone number, that’s the only thing we’ve got.”
Pahlavan mentioned that the dilemma begun promptly as soon as the teenager moved in. The tenant had social gatherings that include use of illegal drugs and fist fights.
The social worker paid the tenant’s rent continuously in cash, but the teenager’s rowdy behavior was unrelenting and the landlord finally evicted the tenant in March.
Pahlavan requested the social worker to lend a hand in fixing the damages and the agency sent over a truck to haul the trash but did not agree to do the extra cleanups or repairs.
“That was the surprising part of the whole deal, that suddenly the unknown social agency said, sorry, we are gone, you go and deal with it,” Pahlvan said.
Out of frustration Pahlavan got in touch with Lea Williams-Doherty, a reporter for CTV Calgary’s “Consumer Watch”.
The reporter figured that the social worker was from Hull Services, a Calgary agency that handles troubled young adults from ages 16 to 22 to support their transition to self-sufficiency, and was appointed by the provincial agency known as the Child & Family Services Authority.
Williams-Doherty made contact with the Child & Family Services Authority to inquire if they would pay for the damages to Pahlavan’s one bedroom suite.
The agency’s spokesperson said the government wasn’t responsible since the damages were made by the tenant. The reporter put emphasis on the lease that was never signed by the social worker and the fact the landlord made the arrangement with the social worker alone but not with the 18-year-old tenant.
This lack of government accountability has been seen before, especially in provinces such as Ontario.
The spokesperson from the Child & Family Services Authority then referred Williams-Doherty to the Hull Services who took the task of fixing the damages in the suite.
John Dahl, the program director of Hull Services said “I’ve seen the apartment there last week and I’ve spoken to the landlord and we’re looking at covering the damages that were done to the apartment.”
Dahl explained that the “Youth Transitioning to Adulthood Program” of Hull Services was set to facilitate teenagers or young adults in pursuing their studies, get a job, find a suitable place to live and have a personal bank account.
The role of a social worker is to facilitate their clients and in some difficult cases, they may need to take a greater part of the task as the” kid takes full accountability along the way.”
In this incident, although it was the social worker who took the rental it should have been under the teenager’s name and not the government, consequently there was no documentation.
This led CTV to question the province and Hull Services “If this kid couldn’t do these things for himself, was he ready for you to go out and solicit private landlords on his behalf?”
This is a wake-up call and a warning for Calgary landlords. Sometimes doing what you think is the right thing to do can come back to bite you.
To discuss this and other Calgary landlord and tenant issues go to the free Alberta Landlord Form