Posts Tagged ‘evictions’

Landlords get a bad deal when it comes to bad tenants

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

By Hugh Adami, Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2010

Why would anyone want to be a small landlord when there is little protection in Ontario from bad tenants?

Take Mike and Cathy Clarmo, who live in the Osgoode community of Edwards. The only way they could get a tenant to leave their rental property was with a cash payout of $3,000. And that was after 4½ years of watching the house’s resale value plummet because of their tenants’ neglect.

Their problems all started because the Clarmos couldn’t say no to an acquaintance who wanted to rent the three-bedroom bungalow they purchased in 2004. The Clarmos had just finished renovating the house when the man — a childhood friend of one of their sons — showed up at their doorstep in the spring of 2005. The couple had been planning to sell the property, which was just down the street from their home, and hoping for a $20,000-to-$25,000 profit to put toward retirement. Mike explained their plans, but the man persisted. He needed a place for his wife and children.

Mike said OK, figuring he would make some of the investment back in rent, and sell later, when the house was sure to be worth more.

Instead, cracks started appearing in their nest egg soon after the family moved in. “It broke our hearts to see the condition of the house deteriorate as it did,” says Cathy.

Probably the worst thing was that the house constantly reeked of animal urine.

The family had a dog, cat and rabbit. Drywall and floors were damaged. The garage was so cluttered that the couple was sure there was a fire risk.

Photos they took also show the front yard of the home littered with junk, including car parts such as engines and tires. The woman, who drove a school bus, damaged the eavestroughing after backing the vehicle into the house, Mike says. Rent was often late.

The Clarmos decided to sell the property after a business deal went sour. In April 2009, they gave the tenants more than two months of notice to vacate.

The tenants offered to buy the house “as is” for a reduced price. The Clarmos agreed. But the tenants couldn’t get a mortgage. The Clarmos abandoned their plan to sell after the husband approached Mike and tearfully told him he couldn’t find another house to rent.

A year later, they planned again to sell the house. But the husband, whose wife was no longer living with him, told Mike he was now well versed in tenants’ rights. He wasn’t going to move, and if Mike wanted to terminate the tenancy, he would have to go before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Mike did so twice. He says he came away convinced that as the landlord, he was considered the bad guy.

At the first hearing, Mike spoke with a mediator, who suggested he allow his tenant to stay at the house rent-free for five months with the condition that he move by the end of this month. The man’s lawyer suggested that Mike could get him out by the end of October if he gave him a few thousand dollars on top of free rent for three months. Mike refused. He recalls the lawyer telling him that he would regret his decision as he was bound to lose the case.

Mike produced photos that he had taken of the house at the first hearing. The adjudicator joked about the one of the cluttered garage. “‘It looks like my garage,'” Mike recalls him saying. In his written decision, adjudicator Greg Joy dismisses or challenges every complaint made by the landlord.

The Clarmos found a prospective buyer for the home soon after and again applied to have the tenancy agreement terminated by Nov. 1, which was also the closing date of the sale.

The adjudicator in the second hearing reserved his decision, which allowed the tenant to stay put for at least the time being.

Mike’s lawyer suggested they give the tenant $2,000 to get out of the house. The tenant’s lawyer then came back with another figure — $3,000 — plus the demand that his client be allowed to stay until Nov. 15. Worried the board could rule in favour of the tenant and that the prospective buyers of the house would pull out of the deal, Mike agreed.

The former tenant would not return my calls.

The $3,000, which the couple feels was extortion, plus $1,400 in legal fees and $1,000 to refill the home’s oil tank are the smaller losses. The Clarmos did sell the house for $240,000 — about $25,000 more than what it cost them to buy and renovate the property in 2004. But the selling price was still a far cry from the $290,000 to $300,000 a real estate broker had told them the house would have been worth.

The Clarmos don’t know if they should be angrier with their tenants or the board.

They realize the board exists primarily to protect tenants, and with children, their tenant was bound to get even more sympathy. But, they say, their case illustrates the need for rules to protect the good landlords.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Landlords+deal+when+comes+tenants/4000351/story.html#ixzz18dUrkiwP

Landlords Burned by Internet Scammers

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Recently a Newfoundland landlord found himself in a controversy regarding a rental ad he posted on Kijiji.ca.

After advertising his condo rental, the landlord was contacted by a potential tenant who referred to an ad for the same                                                                    

property on another Internet classified site, Craigslist.

Suspicious, the landlord researched Craigslist and indeed found his property advertised by an impostor.

The fake landlord was asking half the rent, and allowing both smoking and pets on the property, which the actual landlord had restricted.

The local police found there was nothing they could do to stop the fraud.  Craigslist also failed to pull the ad or warn potential victims of the fraud, so the landlord took matters into his own hands.  He contacted the fraudsters directly, and posed as a tenant to gain more information.

He was told to send a deposit, and upon receipt of the funds, the “landlord” would ship the keys.  He was invited to view the apartment on his own.  Eventually, the scammers became suspicious of the real landlord’s probing inquiry, and pulled the ad.

In a related incident, a RCMP officer went undercover to bust an Internet rental scam in Kelowna, B.C.  In this case, a teenager and her 21-year old friend posted an ad for a rental on Castanet. The 17-year old posed as the landlord’s daughter.  A victim deposited some money in the “landlord’s” bank account without becoming suspicious of the scam. The victim believed that the property could not be shown at that time because it was currently occupied. A few days later, another victim posted a warning on the Internet regarding that ad.  That prompted a call to the police.

The fraudsters made the mistake of continuing to communicate with their victim and demanded the rest of the agreed-upon payment. But instead of meeting with the victim, the cons met an undercover officer.  Both were arrested and charged with fraud.

In the U.S., landlords have been warned by the F.B.I. of a rash on similar Internet scams.  Perhaps the most notorious was a couple who moved across country to an Arizona home offered for rent in Craigslist.  The family of nine could not believe the luck of finding a large house with a swimming pool for such low rent and immediately sent a deposit to hold the property.  In this case, the tenants were given access, and actually started moving into the property before the real owner returned from vacation to find the  family in her home.

In an act of great kindness, the owner allowed the victimized tenants to remain for some time until they could find another place to live.

While some of these frauds may seen obvious to landlords, who understand the normal rental process, they are not so obvious to renters.  It is estimated that scammers often net thousands of dollars from each of these fake ads.

Some landlords are becoming skeptical of posting Internet ads, and relying instead upon rental signs, or newspaper classifieds. Others post warning within their own ads, for instance, advising that all applicants must meet with the landlord personally, and the approved applicant will undergo a credit check before they will be asked to pay a deposit.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Services, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).


“Ontario may just have the strictest legal requirements for landlords in North America.”

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Being a Landlord in Ontario

I received in the mail yesterday my real estate broker’s regular newsletter.  In it there is an article entitled “Becoming a Landlord – Do Your Homework”.  The first sentence of the article is “Ontario may just have the strictest legal requirements for landlords in North America.”

In my opinion, the article ought to be re-titled “Becoming a Landlord – Have Your Head Examined.”  I don’t know if it’s fair to say that Ontario has the strictest landlord laws, but I think it is very fair to say that the Landlord and Tenant Act is extremely tenant-friendly.  My criticism is NOT with the existence of the LTA’s terms, rather it is with the inflexibility of the system.  I will be the first to recognize that the legislation was put in place in response to actual examples of what slum-lords have done to tenants.  I will also be the first to recognized that even with this legislation in place there are still slum-lords operating in Toronto and throughout the province (thankfully, none of them are my clients).  I should also say that in the past I have represented both landlords and tenants in various matters and I do not have a bias in favour of one or the other.  The difficulty is that the legislation which was enacted to avoid the abuses by landlords years ago swung the pendulum way over to the other side and now permits abuses by tenants.  There is no fair balance.  Some will say, “yes, that’s true, but it’s a policy decision made by the legislature that it is entitled to make.”  I agree.  But that doesn’t make it right and it is ultimately, then, a choice between two evils.

I should also point out that I am dealing with residential tenancies here, not commercial tenancies.  So, this will affect small businesses, for example, where they purchase a building that has a main floor store front or office space and then an apartment or apartments in the floor(s) above.

The Ontario legislature’s desire to protect tenants from slum-lords the legislation has turned into a nightmare for decent landlords to get rid of problem tenants.  Let’s give a few examples.  The first area is rent.  If the tenant fails to pay rent on January 1, the landlord must give a notice, if the notice is ignored, the landlord can bring an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board to have the tenancy terminated for non-payment of rent.  The Board hearing might not be scheduled until April 1.  At any point up until the start of the hearing, the tenant can pay the rent – and remember, we are only talking about January’s rent.  If the tenant has failed to pay February and March rent by that time, a new application (or applications) must be filed.  So, if a tenant wanted to be perpetually late, the landlord has to bring a series of applications and if the tenant pays at the last second, the landlord is precluded from kicking the tenant out.  The legislation was put in place to avoid slum-lords from using the slightest delay in rental payment as an excuse to kick out a rent-controlled tenant and replace him or her with a higher paying tenant.  The problem is that it is now open to abuse by tenants.

Another example, I have a client who is a superintendant at an apartment building.  The client has a dispute with one of the tenants.  One day, my client alleges and I personally believe him but it has never been fully decided at the LTB or in court, the tenant decided to throw a 4 litre bottle of oil off the tenant’s balcony and narrowly missed my client working many stories below.  This type of conduct is completely reprehensible and ought to be a justification for immediate eviction of the tenant.  An application for this relief was brought to the tribunal.  The application was dismissed.  Why?  Because it was not a “continuing” event.  The provision in the legislation was clearly aimed at situations such as tenants who play their music loudly or have parties all the time.  The result is that the tenant would have to keep doing acts which endangered my client’s health or amounted to a nuisance for an uninterrupted period of seven days before the tenant could be evicted.  Perversely enough, if the tenant does whatever the problem is for six days in a row, then takes a day off, and then goes another six days, then takes another day off, etc., etc. there is little that a landlord can do.  Again, a provision in the legislation that is open for abuse by tenants.

A third example, in the most recent round of legislative reform landlords were precluded from being able to request that tenants permit the landlords to directly debit the tenants’ bank accounts for the rental payments.  This is joined with the existing provision that landlords cannot ask for post-dated cheques.  The only guaranteed obligation of a tenant, regardless of the nature of the tenancy, is that the tenant pays rent.  Direct debits permit the landlord to more cost-effectively get paid.  The argument against direct debits is that sometimes the tenant doesn’t have the money on the first.  If that’s the case then (a) the tenant is in breach of the lease and that’s the tenant’s problem; and (b) if the tenant writes a cheque on January 1 hoping that it will be deposited on January 2 at the landlord’s bank and that by the time it makes it over to the tenant’s bank on January 3 there will be money to cover the cheque, the tenant is engaged in “cheque kiting” which is illegal – and something the law should not be encouraging.

I could go on.  Suffice it to say, over the years I have had opportunities with friends and otherwise to invest in real estate which would make me a landlord, either directly or indirectly.  In light of Ontario’s legislation, I have steadfastly refused.  Those who are landlords are either braver souls than I, or maybe they should have their heads examined.

courtesy of Christoper A.L. Caruana

Tenant Screening: The Previous Landlord Reference!

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Information posted on one of Canada’s most popular websites:

A: Help!  I’m breaking my lease, but the new landlord needs a reference from my previous landlord! 

B:  In case you havent figured out – most tenants put on a cell number of a friend for the reference, then claim that person was the landlord for either your present place, or a previous place. Same for work reference for tenant applications.  Think about it for a second – most places you rent are private residential properties.   The owners aren’t too thorough!    I trust you know what do, something that is already done by probably 70% of the other applicants!