Every landlord needs to be made aware of this situation. I read this piece in the Huffington Post today, and it made me quite angry. It ups the game in professional tenancy and redefines people taking advantage of other people for their own benefit.
Rebekah Caverhill is an Alberta landlord. She owns a duplex in Calgary’s Parkdale neighbourhood. She rented half of said duplex out to a guy named Andreas Pirelli back in 2011. The new tenant – a self described handyman – agreed to spruce the property up in exchange for 3 months of rent. When Caverhill came to inspect the work, she found that the kitchen and bathroom had been gutted and that the floors had been painted black. Pirelli declared the unit an “embassy” and identified himself as a freemen on the land. I’ll explain what this is…
Freemen on the land is a North American movement of “sovereign” citizens who basically believe that all statute law is contractual in nature. They further believe that law only governs them if they choose or consent to be governed. By implication, they believe that, by not consenting, they can hold themselves independent of government jurisdiction.
According to the B.C. Law Society and the FBI (who list the sovereign citizen movement as a domestic terror threat) Freemen may number up to 30,000 in Canada and hundreds of thousands in the United States. They believe they can avoid taxes, mortgages, utility bills and more. They state that they have an unfettered right to travel (hence their belief that they do not need driver’s licences, licence plates or insurance). They believe that government-issued identification is somehow different from the “natural person.” They commonly list their names in the format of “First:Last” (using a colon in between). They are loosely affiliated with Canadian “detaxers,” whose tenet is that income taxes do not have to be paid to the government.
In other words – they believe they can essentially do whatever it is they want and that laws don’t apply to them.
Back to Caverhill. Pirelli (also known as Mario Antonacci) changed the locks on the place, and informed Caverhill he was willing to pay $775 a month instead of the $1500 plus utilities they agreed on. To make matters worse, his company – CPC Universal Group – billed Caverhill $26,000 for the work. Caverhill also received a notice from the Land Titles Office and discovered the property had been liened for $17,000. Pirelli’s Linked In profile lists him as a supervisor/coordinator/estimator with CPC Universal Group AND a diplomatic minister with Sovran Nations Assembly – which has a website that looks as if it was designed in 1991. This guy must have a busy day.
As to be expected, when Caverhill – a pensioner who relies on the rental income – got police involved, they indicated to her that this was a civil matter, and that she needed to pursue this with the Alberta LTB.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? As landlords, we all know professional renters exist, and they cost small landlords millions of dollars every year. Saying this is an interesting situation may be the world’s biggest understatement.