Posts Tagged ‘Landlord Legal Issues’

Toronto Star: Ontario Tenants Can Offer Rent Upfront

Monday, March 31st, 2014

April 1st, 2014

Ontario Tenants Can Offer Rent Upfront

Can tenants voluntarily pay the landlord extra rent or a deposit for pets?

A recent column in the Toronto Star has caused a lot of excitement for residential landlords all over the province.

Ontario landlords often complain about the challenges caused by not being able to charge tenants a damage deposit.

It’s common for landlords to face a big clean up job or lots of needed repairs when tenants move out.

This not only costs landlords a lot of money, it also has a negative impact on new tenants who move in and expect a clean and well maintained property as this The Grid article explains.

To recoup the costs of cleaning the rental unit or fixing the property landlords have to pursue their former tenants and take them to Ontario Small Claims Court.

Some landlords are successful at this, as you can see at this story ‘Ontario Landlords and Small Claims Court‘, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process.

Some landlords simply cannot find their ex-tenants to serve them court papers to get the process even started.

Background

The Toronto Star story explained the background to their story.

Mississauga landlord Tanveer Bumbia rented to a tenant who was in Canada on a visitor visa.

At first Bumbia had concerns the tenant would be able to continue to fulfill the terms of the lease and keep paying rent.

However, he rented to her because the tenant paid one year of rent up front and a security deposit.

After moving in the tenant filed to get the extra rent and security deposit back because the Residential Tenancies Act states landlords can only request ‘first and last months’ rent.”

During the case an email from the tenant’s Realtor was disclosed.

The email clearly stated the tenant would pay all twelve months of rent.

Since the tenant offered the money voluntarily the judge decided it was legal (while the damage deposit was not because the tenant hadn’t offered it).

The tenant appealed the verdict and in February 2014 another decision was made a Superior Court judge.

This new decision (which can be read here) agreed with the first one. 

Judge Marrocco explained:

1. A landlord cannot require the tenant to pay anything more than just ‘first and last   

   month’s rent’ in order to agree to rent t the tenant.

2. If the tenant offered to pay more rent money upfront the landlord could accept it and it  

    would be legal

3. The landlord would be required to pay the tenant interest on this extra rent according

     to the Act

What Does This Mean For Ontario Landlords?

According to the Toronto Star story, the decision will have an impact on how tenants and landlords do business together.

For example, you can’t put in your rental advertisement that you will require anything more than just first and last months’ rental payment.

You also can’t advertise you will charge a security or pet deposit.

If the tenant voluntarily offers to pay the landlord extra rent the landlord can accept it.

Also, if the tenant volunteers the landlord can accept a deposit for things such as potential pet damages.

Landlords Speak Out

The Star story has caused a stir for landlords.

You can see this on some of the post at the Ontario Landlord Forum.

Some landlords are excited about giving tenants more options to negotiation with them.

“This could really be a game changer and help landlords and good tenants.

Tenants who might have bad credit or pets and are having a hard time finding a landlord to rent them because of the risks for the landlord…”

An new Ottawa landlord is confused about what the real rules for landlords are:

“What’s going on? I called the Landlord and Tenant Board 1-888 telephone number and asked about this. The customer service representative informed me landlords can only collect ‘first’ and ‘last’ months’ rent.”

An Alberta landlord finds the who situation bizarre because it doesn’t make sense to ever deny tenants the right to negotiate to rent from a landlord:

“Many of us out there think it’s insane landlords in Ontario can’t charge a damage, security or pet deposit.

This means the tenants don’ t have any ‘skin in the game’ and won’t treat your property right.

The fact that a person who wants to rent from you offer you more money might not be able to do so is just bizarre.”

Tenants Should Have the Right To Freely Negotiate

We support a tenant’s right to negotiate with a potential landlord.

We also feel it’s time to change the Residential Tenancies Act to allow landlords to ask for security and pet deposits.

With some protection against damages more people will invest in residential rental property in Ontario which will lead to more high quality rentals and more choices for tenants.

We will follow this carefully to help Ontario landlords navigate an ever more confusing legal environment.

Tenant Screening – Freeman Arrested, Landlady Finally Gets Her Duplex Back

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

 October 1st, 2013

CAL0926-CDNe4

Self-proclaimed sovereign arrested at the rental home he declared his embassy

We wrote about the horrible situation facing Rebekah Caverhill. 

She is the Calgary landlord whose story we called “Landlord Feels Like a Prisoner After Freemen On The Land Declares Rental Property His Embassy.”

Some Good News

As reported last Friday in the National Post the almost two year battle for Caverhill was finally coming to an end.

According to the Alberta Landlords Association Calgary police moved in at around 2 am and made an arrest. The tenant was arrested on  several outstanding warrants issued by courts in Quebec.

Tenant Andreas Pirelli was charged with pushing a landlady down a flight of stairs in Montreal in 2007.

An arrest warrant was issued in May 2010 when he failed to show up during his trial.

Police said Mr. Pirelli will remain in custody until he is transported back to Quebec.

Landlady Returns To Her Duplex

Caverhill was nervous about the opportunity to finally get back her home.

According to the Calgary Sun she said “I don’t know what I’m walking into when I walk in there, but that’s nothing. Bricks and boards can be fixed but there are some things that are far more precious then bricks and boards — that’s the idea of freedom and standing up for what you think is right.”

When she went into the basement unit on Monday she was met with a letter saying the Freeman had put a lien of $17,000 against the property.

This is the second lien he filed against her.

When she began to see what had happened to her rental property the Alberta senior broke out crying.

Looking at the mess and led her to say it was extremely painful for her to see what was left over. She was extremely upset.

Screen, Screen, Screen

What happened to Rebekah Caverhill can happen anywhere in Canada and is a wake-up call for landlords across the country.

She rented to this ‘Tenant from Hell’ based on the recommendation of a friend and didn’t sign a lease with him.

One of the lessons police are urging to public to take from this incident is the important of full background checks on potential tenants.

“It’s really important to contact prior landlords and check all references for people who are potentially going to be renting your property,” said Calgary police.

Calgary landlords are aghast at what happened. But it’s a situation that can happen anywhere in Canada at any time.

Remember to thoroughly screen your tenants before handing over the keys to your rental property.

Good screening includes a credit check and a criminal check.

Protect yourself, your family and your rental property investment. Spending a relatively small amount of money at the beginning can save you thousands of dollars later on.

Landlord Feels Like a Prisoner After ‘Freemen On The Land” Declares Rental Property “His Embassy”

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

 September 24th, 2013

Alberta Freemen of the Landlord Is a Nighmare for His Landlord

We had prepared to post about the great news out of Hamilton.

Hamilton landlords stuck together, created noise, and played a key role in stopping landlord licensing.

We’ll get to that soon because we want to first share a story that’s being reported everywhere from Sun News to the CBC.

It’s about a landlord facing a nightmare situation.

Landlord Victimized By Bad Tenant

We know there are lots of bad tenants out there. We have discussed everything from tenants not paying the rent for months to some tenants being charged from threatening their landlord.

The situation going on now in Alberta is something we haven’t seen before.

Owning Rentals In Alberta

Alberta is known for having some of the more fair laws for landlords in Canada.

Fair laws such as allowing damage deposits and ‘no security of tenancy’ rules. This means a negotiated lease agreed to and signed by both the landlord and tenant carries weight in unlike in Ontario.

This leads to lots of success stories and happy landlords in Alberta.

However, for those who don’t do proper tenant screening problems still arise.

Freemen On The Land

Rebekah Caverhill owns a nice duplex in a great area of Calgary, Alberta.

In 2011 she agreed to rent to Andreas Pirelli based on the recommendation of a friend. He said he was a handyman and she agreed to let him move in in exchange for three months of contracting work.

Pirelli moved in and began abusing his landlord and the rental property, including:

1. Changing the locks without the landlords’ permission

2. Completely gutting the bathroom and the kitchen

3. Painting the bedrooms black

He also informed this landlord he would only pay half of his monthly agreed to rent of $1,500 because the work he did on the home was suddenly to cost $26,000.

Pirelli  had declared himself a member of what’s called Freemen-on-the-land.

This is a movement which believes they don’t have to follow the law if they declare themselves to be sovereign citizens.

Don’t Let This Happen To You

Rebekah Caverhill was taken advantage of and is paying a hefty price. Is it fair? Of course not.

She rented to a tenant based on trust and the recommendation of a friend.

Unfortunately in this day and age you need to do more before handing over the keys.

 

Tenant Screening Ontario Landlords Association Small Claims Court

 

Being a successful landlord means starting out right. This means doing credit checks and other tenant screening to make sure you know who is coming into your property.

Join the discussion at the Ontario Landlord forum

An Ontario Landlord Story Part 4 “What About Rights For The Landlord?”

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

July 26th, 2013

Ontario Landlord Naive Landlord and tenant board

The Bureaucracy and Injustice for Small Landlords Keeps Getting Worse and Worse

As explained in Part 3, I did complain to the Vice Chair about the fact that apparently the adjudicator had amended the order in discussion with the tenants and in our absence

– the response I received avoided addressing this and instead apologized for the difficulties I experienced with scheduling our hearing. 

I also filed an appeal – which was, of course, scheduled for a Thursday – so much for the apology.

When I requested that this be rescheduled or postponed until the end of the semester so as not to inconvenience the more than 80 students I teach on Thursdays, the request was denied.

A second fax requesting that our issue then be heard during my break received no response at all, so I was again forced to inconvenience my students and risk my employment for this nonsense. 

And the adjudicator who heard the appeal insisted that I should have addressed the issue of his tenancy at the initial hearing (although how I could be expected to know it was an issue when it was not discussed, or mentioned during the adjudicator’s ruling is beyond me) and refused to amend the order, although she did acknowledge that he did, in fact, reside in the unit, contrary to his testimony. 

Because I had failed to get him to sign a rental agreement for the main unit, she stated that she would deem him an occupant rather than a tenant, in any case. Occupants get to live for free in Ontario, apparently… but then, so do tenants.

During the time following the hearing and until they moved on 15-Feb (without actually waiting for the Sheriff, who finally deigned to show up on the 26th) they continued to cause a great deal of damage to the property.

They also seriously slandered my husband – the only issue that the police actually supported us with, ordering that they cease and desist or risk being charged. 

And they also found a way to more than double the hydro bill, opening all the windows but maintaining the house at 85C or higher with electric heaters and fans plugged into every socket.

And of course, when they left, they made sure to lock us out, since we still did not have a key to the front door (and they nailed the others shut).

To Be Continued…

An Ontario Landlord Story Part 3 “Does the Landlord and Tenant Board Follow Their Own Rules?”

Friday, July 12th, 2013

July 13th, 2013

Landlord and Tenant Board Adjudicator Tenant Duty Counsel

(Click to read Part 1 and Part 2)

To give the tenant the power to destroy the landlord’s employment hardly seems reasonable to me, but as it happened, I was able to send my eldest daughter to the house with a permission form, and the squatters did sign it.

Even so, it took a great many phone calls and tears before a manager at the Landlord and Tenant Board finally intervened and agreed to schedule all three of our hearings for the same day – and on a Tuesday.

Still not ideal, as I teach at 11 am on Tuesdays, and they do not typically allow such minor details to influence the adjudicator’s schedule, but the manager did agree to write a letter requesting that if at all possible, our issues be dealt with as early as possible on that day. 

Unfortunately, in order to “accommodate” me to this extent, the hearing was delayed by several weeks – and of course, the tenants paid no rent for January either.  Nor February.

Over the course of the time while we were waiting for the hearing, the tenants made numerous complaints to various agencies, resulting in our receiving almost daily phone calls, and even threats, from by-law officers, fire chiefs, and the police.

They complained that the vacuum my husband used in the basement unit of the building disturbed them, which resulted in a police officer first of all, entering our unit without permission, and secondly, instructing my husband to leave to cease interfering with her “enjoyment.”  

They objected to him stopping at the work site on the highway where the partner worked and writing down the name of his employer from the side of the work trucks, and called the police for that as well.

They provided a list of repairs they wanted completed in the unit. These ranged from the frivolous such as “our light fixtures don’t work” (light bulbs) and 2 elements and the oven don’t work (they removed the elements, and the oven timer needed turning to the off position) to the ridiculous (we want the wall that we ripped out in the bathroom and the deck that we trucked away from the back door replaced).

When we did attend to attempt to make repairs we were verbally abused and/or denied entry, and the few repairs they did allow were promptly and publicly undone.  We also heard regularly from people in our small town that they were crowing about how they were successfully “screwing” both us and OW

And of course, they continued to toss their garbage – mountains of it – into not only the back yard, now, but also in the front, and in the parking areas.

Finally the day of the hearing arrived. And we were, in fact, one of the first cases to be dealt with. The tenants were not actually present when we were called to the front of the room – they arrived several minutes in, more than an hour past the time we were – supposedly – required to sign in. 

It was abundantly clear that the rules about signing in and providing three copies of any evidence to be offered only applied to landlords. 

The issues were dealt with relatively easily, and we – we thought – were successful on all three counts.

The adjudicator told us that he found that our evidence was credible and the tenants’ was not, and that they had indeed given notice for the end of November, refused to vacate, and paid no rent since.

He would, he said, order that the stay of the original eviction order be lifted, requiring them to vacate the unit by 31-Jan. As well, his order would direct that they pay the rent owing and for the damages we were able to prove at that point.

As we left the building, naively thinking that we had won, the tenants were heading back in

– it was not until the written order arrived more than a week later that we discovered that we should, perhaps, have followed them. The written order was not as the adjudicator had stated. It seems likely that when they went back in, the tenant was able to speak to the Duty Council and – in spite of the principles stated on the LTB website which include that:

5. A Member will not communicate directly or indirectly with any party, witness or representative in respect of a proceeding outside of a hearing or pre-hearing conference, except in the presence of all parties and their representatives

He was somehow able to have it amended.

When it arrived, her partner had been deemed to be not a tenant and therefore removed from the order – and the adjudicator found that due to her circumstances it was “not unfair” to permit her additional time, so rather than 31-Jan, he gave her until 15-Feb.

Which, given the Sheriff’s “process” meant that we would be on the hook for all of February and possibly well into March. How nice of him to be so charitable with our money! 

And while the order would allow for us to be paid a pro-rated amount for the additional period, since she was on OW (Ontario Works), the fact that he was removed from the order ensured that we would not be able to collect a single cent of the more than $5,000 owing to us at that point.

This left us asking ourselves – Does the Landlord and Tenant Board Follow their Own Rules?

To Be Continued…