Archive for the ‘Tenant issues’ Category

Tenants Out For “Revenge” Forcing Calgary Landlords Out of Business

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

 March 6th, 2012

A recent report in the Calgary Herald details how tenants are forcing Calgary second suits to shut down.

Landlord Mchel Selim came to Canada thirteen years ago from Syria.  When he first arrived, he could only afford a basement suite.  Selim is proud he is now in a position to own investment properties and rent out basements suites to others who want low cost rental housing.

Selim was renting to a single Mother and her daughter when he was reported for having an illegal secondary suite.  Later he received a another notice for another property he owns.  This will force the tenant to leave and Selim will receive no income.

Selim understands if the notices to shut down were due to neighbors upset with the tenants displaying bad behavior or arguments over parking.  However, both of the government notices were by tenants angry at their landlord!

Tools of Vengeance

The first notice was by the tenant who lived in the upstairs unit who was upset the landlord complained about friends living with him without paying rent.  The second notice was due to the downstairs tenant angry about how the landlord was treating her friend who rented the upstairs unit.

According to Selim, both complaints were fueled by tenants desire for ‘revenge’ against him.

He also believes both reports were made in bad faith.

There were 380 reports against unregulated suites in 2011.   They continue at the same pace in 2012.  When the rules are enforced, landlords are essentially helpless to do anything.

The situation even frustrates the head of the Calgary compliance branch.  City staff are often used by angry tenants as tools of vengeance instead of being contacted out of real concern for safety or health codes.

What is the Government Doing About this?

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has attempted to get City Council to relax secondary suite bylaws.  However, so far he hasn’t been successful.

According to Mayor Nenshi:

“They’re not the most unsafe ones, or the most dangerous ones, or the ones that are causing the biggest problems in the neighbourhood. They’re the ones people complain about for one reason or another.”

“And so, yet again, the system is ridiculous. We’re pretending we’re doing something about the situation, when all we’re doing is addressing a tiny fraction of the problem, based entirely on whether you have an angry tenant or angry neighbour.”

Next week council will discuss possible alternative ways  of enforcement.  However, council is split on the issue and the Mayor’s allies predict nothing will change prior to the next election.

So Why Don’t Landlords Simply Follow the Law? 

Ald. Andre Chabot represents an east end ward which has traditionally had most of the citys unregistered secondary suites.  Chabot states he will push for tough enforcement policies which are not only based on tenant or neighbor complaints.  According to Chabot,   “If you’re going to have two suites in a house, you should be paying increased taxes.”

However, rezoning a property to be legal under the legislation is not only costly and complex, politicians get the ‘final say.’   In 2011 eight homeowners applied to make their properties legal. Three were refused.  Those voting them down included Chabot.

According to Selim, it’s so complicated he will avoid the process and instead apply to construct a proper new duplex on his large lot!

Landlord Gizella Heiter also states she won’t bother trying to follow the government rules by rezoning.  She had an unhappy tenant call 311 to report the suite in her basement in 2010.

Heiter explains the inspector sent even complimented how nice the rental suite was…but it was still an illegal suite.

While the former tenant found another place to rent, Heiter now gets around the bylaw by renting her basement out without a kitchen.  According to the law if the basement doesn’t have a kitchen it isn’t illegal.

Heiter says she now rents to single guys who are happy with only a hot plate.


Memorial Service Held for Whitehorse family Killed by Carbon Monoxide

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

February 7th, 2012

Hundreds of people including family and friends from across the country were in Whitehorse last weekend to mourn the loss of the Rusk family.

The Rusks (originally from Alberta) died because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There wasn’t a carbon monoxide detector in the house they rented.  There are no requirements in the Canadian Building Code for older houses to have carbon monoxide detectors.

The tragedy led Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski to say it could become apart of a government review of the Yukon Landlord and Tenant Act.

The house is owned by a numbered corporation run by Geri Tuton.  Tuton is a special assistant to Premier Pasloski.

Most Tenants Leaving Condemned Huntington Hills Find New Apartments

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

December 24th, 2011

What’s this story about?

Huntington Hills was said to be “unfit” for habitation after the owner failed to comply with a couple of Alberta court orders to fix safety and health concerns.

The owners had two years of warnings after Alberta Health Services informed them there were serious health concerns with the building.  One of the main concerns was asbestos.

What happened to the tenants?

This left many tenants living in Huntington Hills to scramble to find new places to live, even a day before they were to be evicted.

Many of the ninety tenants scrambling to find new housing were newcomers to Canada and seniors with low incomes.

Fortunately, before the deadline only three had found a new rental.

How did these tenants handle it?

Two tenants involved feel they are happy to home for the Christmas break.  They are Melissa and Andrew Rayburn.  Just days before being forced to move they and their two daughters managed to find a new rental within blocks of their Huntsville building.

According to Melissa: “It’s been really stressful but I guess I’m glad that we left because I don’t want to live in a place that could make my kids sick.” Melissa is six months pregnant and said  “I’m really glad we’re out of there. We don’t need the hassle.”

Why didn’t the government work closely with the Huntington Hills owners to solve this before it came to this point?

That is something only the owners and the government know.

Message to Alberta Landlords – When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 3)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

How could they do this to my property?

August 29, 2011

This is a warning to all landlords in Calgary, Edmonton and the Rest of Alberta.  Although I’m in Ontario, I hope what happened to me helps others all over the country.

I was very happy to have hired property manager John Schutten.  John spoke with the tenants and managed to get Teddy and Nancy to sign a form called an N11 (“Agreement to End a Tenancy”) from the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John told me in Ontario even if the tenants sign a form saying they will leave, we needed to take it with a grain of salt because they could ignore it and continue to stay.  Both John and I thought it was likely I’d have to order the Sheriff to physically evict them from my rental property.

I knew we needed to get an eviction order through the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John attended the hearing at the LTB on May 17.  The tenants didn’t even bother to show up!  This was actually a good thing because many tenants will show up with fake maintenance claims in order to stall the whole process  and live rent free.  We were granted the eviction but couldn’t get the Order right there and then.  In Ontario you have to wait to receive the order via snail mail.

Finally May 31st arrived!  This was the day the tenants were supposed to vacate the property according the LTB Order.  My fingers were crossed they would obey the law and leave when the LTB said they had to get out!  John did an inspection and these tenants had not packed a single box!  We couldn’t consider the property abandoned so we had to take an expensive next step…ordering the Sheriff.  Off to the Sheriff’s office John went with the LTB Order in hand to book the Sheriff.  Cost?  $320!

In some places, you can wait weeks before the Sheriff’s office has time to come to your property.  Fortunately, Hamilton is a large city and they work every day of the week.  The Sheriff came and posted a letter on the door stating the tenants had 72 hours to leave and take all their belongings.  The tenants had until June 7 at 10 am to vacate.

I felt relieved this whole ordeal was about to end.  My happiness and relief ended when I thought how much money I was out dealing with the eviction process in Ontario.  The Sheriff cost over $300.  Plus the LTB cost me $170.  I had to pay John for his professional and experienced help.  I also didn’t receive April or May rent.  Now it was June and another month of no rent.  My tax bill and mortgage still had to be paid!

On the evening of June 6 (hours away from D-Day, or E-Day for eviction) I drove by my little property after work to see what might be happening.  Good news!  I saw a U-Haul truck pull up in the driveway.  It looked like they actually started moving furniture out of the house.  I saw their things all over the front yard and sidewalk.  My Lord, they were even having a garage sale!

The next day the Sheriff came.  At long last my property was ‘mine’ again.  These rotten tenants were finally gone!  I was beaming.  The smile on my face was only matched by the spring in my stride as I walked to the front door to take a look and then change the locks.

Then I went inside.  No. This was just too much….. They couldn’t have done this to me…..

Discuss this in the landlord forums here

When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 2)

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

When things go wrong don’t expect any help from the government

July 2011

Late payments, a mountain of garbage building up, the tenants lying about us going through their personal things, strangers coming in and out of the property through the windows, the police monitoring the property…it was getting to be too much!I knew I needed to take a step back and hire professional help.

Fortunately through the Ontario Landlords Association I knew where I could find good help.  I contacted John Schutten from a local property management firm called Ready4Rent and asked him to take over.

John gave proper notice and did his initial inspection of the property.  He went in and inspected for any maintenance or safety issues and took photos.  Like so many unruly tenants who have no respect either for the property or their own safety John found they had removed all the smoke alarms, were storing motorcycles in the house, had ripped off all the screens from the window and the place was a mess!

As a true professional, John communicated with the tenants and gave them an opportunity to change their behavior and start following some maintenance and safety rules.  The result?  They didn’t listen, continued to ignore the rules and continued their destruction of my property.

John had asked me what I wanted to do- I said I wanted them out.  I couldn’t trust them, I was suspicious of their drug activities, the place was becoming a fire-trap, they were wrecking my once beautiful home…I wanted them gone.

Since the Fall I was getting the rent paid by Ontario Works (welfare) every month.  On March 1 the money stopped.  No direct payment.  Not a cent.  I immediately contacted the welfare fraud department.  A while later I received a call from their case worker.  This case worker was different than the one I spoke to in the Fall.

She wouldn’t tell me very much because she said her hands were tied by the Privacy Act.  I told her the tenants were paying me via Ontario Works with a direct cheque, and it suddenly stopped.  The tenants were doing something else with their welfare check.  She told me this was not a fraud situation.  Tenants on welfare are able to stop their check going directly to the landlord with a quick phone call.  She said fraud was only for situations where the welfare recipient was working under the table, claiming other people under them, etc.

I asked the case worker, “So you are telling me that failure to pay rent with the shelter allowance part of a welfare check isn’t fraud?” The rent portion of their cheque is a shelter allowance, and these tenants were spending it on things other than for shelter!

I asked her what happens if they don’t pay rent and I report it.  She told me she could hold back the cheques until they produce a rent receipt.  I asked her “what happens if they produce a fake receipt?”  She answered it was not her job to decipher whether or not a receipt is fake or not!  She also said the tenants might be using up their last month’s rent and might move out.  My fingers were crossed!

After I finished with the case worker I felt very suspicious the tenants were going to issue a fake rent receipt so they could keep getting their shelter allowance while living in my house rent free.  I emailed the Ministry of Social Services explaining my situation and looking for help.  Here’s the response I got back:

“Thank you for your e-mail to the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding your tenant.

When a tenant who is receiving social assistance is not paying rent, the local Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offices may direct part of a social assistance recipient’s assistance to a third party, such as a landlord or utility company in order to cover rent or utility costs. These pay direct arrangements may remain in effect until it is evident that the recipient is able to manage their financial assistance.

A pay direct arrangement is purely an administrative arrangement that does not change the landlord-tenant relationship or any existing legal obligations. In particular, under this administrative arrangement, the Ministry of Community and Social Services does not take on any of the tenant’s legal or financial obligations.”

And here was my response…..

“I am most insulted with this lame reply.

I am not the first landlord to tell you about the scamming that is going on with regards to tenants having their cheques redirected to themselves only to turn around and use that money for other uses other than its intended purpose- which is to pay for the necessary rent.

Your hands-off approach, with the “it’s a landlord-tenant problem” is getting real old and tiresome.

This email is completely unacceptable as a response…you are the welfare fraud department- THIS IS WELFARE FRAUD!

What does a tenant have to do before they are investigated or charged with misappropriation of funds?

Perhaps the welfare fraud department is really just  a make-work project by the current liberal government who treat landlords as second-class citizens? I realize with these types of comments such as yours, there are no real efforts to stop this complete waste of taxpayers money.    I will forward this email on to the appropriate people.”

My head was spinning over the situation.  Not only were the tenants wrecking my house, potentially doing illegal activities, the police involved, …I was facing months of them living there rent-free!  The government didn’t care and was on the tenants side!

I began to investigate how OW and OPSP really work in Ontario.  Here is what I found out:

-A welfare or ODSP recipient can have their cheques redirected back to themselves at any time with one simple phone call requiring no explanation whatsoever!

-If the pay-direct cheque is coming to you, and it comes late, OW will NOT even confirm to say whether or not the cheque is in the mail!

-If the cheques stop coming, and the tenant goes into rental arrears, the case worker nor welfare fraud department does not care, and will always have the landlord eat the costs

-It has also happened where the tenant did NOT ask for the cheques to be stopped going to the landlord, yet the tenant received the cheque because the case worker made a mistake- too bad, so sad for the landlord, right?!

-Many welfare recipients have more than one address and cheques go to many of these addresses- yet again OW and welfare fraud turn a blind eye!

-Even after the tenant moves out, sometimes the cheques keep coming- yet again no clue for welfare administration – no checks and balances

-Case workers do NOT check with the landlord to validate any information, a tenant can say they are moving out, when they haven’t, and OW has the right to put a stop payment on a pay direct rent cheque- no warning to the landlord of course!

-Welfare fraud department will not follow up with landlord who has reported welfare fraud

I was learning fast. 

Thank God, because things were about to take another turn.  The tenants said they might agree to move…or maybe not….

When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 1)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Why Landlords Must Protect Themselves From Their Own Good Intentions

June 2011

My tenants gave notice to move and I began showing the property to prospective new tenants.  One family came and were immediately interested.  Nancy, Teddy and their young daughter seemed very nice.  I was happy when she told me the “loved the place” as soon as they walked in.  I had the place looking good and it felt nice when they commented how beautiful it was. Nancy told me “You should have seen some of the places we looked at – they were awful!”  They said they wanted the place. (more…)

Check Out This Landlord Legal Classified Ad on Kijiji: “Response from Landlord Legal”

Monday, October 19th, 2009

This is in response to the recent posting from Patricia Rodgers, a Barrie, Ontario tenant in the process of being evicted for non-payment of rent. Ms. Rodgers was recently given 24 hour written notice of our intention to enter the property with her landlord and property manager, who were frankly in fear of entering the property without us. This is what Ms. Rodgers posted, right here on Kijiji, directly above our own advertisement for services to landlords, on October 9, 2009:

Is there anyone out there that has been in conflict with Landlord Legal?? Have you been evicted? Have they come into your home and did an “Outgoing Maintenance Inspection” and taken pictures of your person belongings while you are still living in the property?
Send me a reply to this ad and we can talk. I am currently proceeding to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner Office of Canada. They feel that they have all rights to do so but in all reality they do not! If you don’t give consent for them to take the pictures they are not able to do so.

Give me an email! if you have been affected in anyway by these people.

True to form, Ms. Rodgers interfered with this lawful inspection, to the point of sounding an alarm, indicating to the alarm company that “intruders” were in the house, resulting in a police response which included the K9 unit on a busy Saturday night, a waste of our valuable police resources.

Landlords do in fact have the right to take photos during routine or outgoing maintenance inspections. As legal representatives, we are accustomed to many situations where landlords and tenants end up in heated courtroom battles and as they say, “pictures are worth a thousand words”. Sometimes, tenants claim shoddy maintenance by a landlord when in fact, their own living standards are squalid to say the least. Landlords must prepare to defend any litigation by their tenants, and photos are one of the methods we employ to do so. Further, taking photos of rented premises protect good tenants who may be accused of damaging property by unscrupulous landlords.

In fact, a recent battle was waged before the Landlord and Tenant Board in Kitchener, wherein this very issue, can the landlord take photos, was challenged, and the landlords rights were upheld before that Tribunal thanks to the expert guidance of the OLA, who represented the landlords. Those tenants have also been evicted.

Regarding the Privacy Act, the only piece of legislation that supersedes the Residential Tenancies Act is the Human Rights Code. Clearly, the recent Board decision takes precedence.

Good tenants never see us. Landlords in Ontario are largely powerless, and rely on us to enforce their legal rights with everything we’ve got in our arsenal. Knowledge, experience, and courage to stand up to those who play games, manipulate the process, threaten violence, and refuse to take responsibilty for their obligations as tenants of rented premises.

Shame on you, Ms. Rodgers. You are clearly a very bright individual and we can only hope that you will one day use your intelligence for something useful and positive instead of waging inappropriate battles with your landlords and those who choose to protect them.

The Sheriff will be coming to see you in a short few days. We trust you have left the property in the condition in which it was given to you.