Renting Well Blog

Alberta Freeman On The Land Makes Life Difficult For Alberta Pensioner Landlord

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.

Author: Chris Saracino

Chris is a co-founder of Renting Well and heads up our marketing and communication efforts. He's also the landlord of two buildings and 8 units in Ottawa, Ontario.

Comments

  1. I know people who want to help this woman. if anyone knows how to contact her. The freeman movement is not a part of this lunacy. They are peaceful and that something they live by. People need to work together to resolve this for this woman. This seems to have been orchestrated to put the freeman movement in a bad light and will cause endless issues for all parties if some light isn’t shed in this situation.

  2. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes…this woman needs help.

    I think to more accurately characterize this situation, like anything – there are people within this movement who are confrontational and violent, and there are people who are not. Either way – there seems to be concern about this. The only thing I’m curious about is why the idea that you don’t need to pay taxes or abide by the same laws as everyone else? Please feel free to shed some light on this.

  3. This guy is an idiot, a retard and an asshole, as are all so-called Freemen, who get their “freedom” at the expense of others and society; if you want to help this lady, find out the address of the rental unit he has hijacked and squatted in, and harrass him, break the windows, throw smoke bombs, slash the tires of his vehicle, etc. Until he leaves. Then volunteer to help the lady repair the place and find a real human being for a tenant. Freemen are psychos, and their supporters are morons.

  4. Thanks for the comment David. This is a maddening issue, but harassing/breaking windows/throwing smoke bombs isn’t going to do Ms. Caverhill any good and is a lousy suggestion. It will only make the situation worse. That’s also illegal…so can’t agree with that. I think you’re just expressing your frustration with the situation – which is fair – but we need constructive comments on this thread.

  5. Hey Rebekah, what you need isa few friends to stage a coup on this guys “embassy”..I wish I still lived in calgary cuz I’d be there..lure him out and then reclaim the property for canada..he would HAVE to accept that by his own set of values..if he didn’t then his system would break down and expose him for a parasite..its also a total and utter shame that the police are not stepping into this situation..they’re too busy writing parking tickets and hiding out to catch someone doing 10 over, instead of dealing with a real life terrorist..because that’s what this nutbar truly is..he’s terrorizing you and everyone is cowering instead of standing up..a shame..get some friends and stage a coup..no guns, just some muscle..86 this guy!

  6. Hey Josh. Thanks for your comment – however – again…we need constructive suggestions here. Are there any paralegals or lawyers who specialize in landlord and tenant disputes who can help Ms. Caverhill out? We’re waiting for your comments….

  7. Isn’t that the point? Politically correct “constructive” suggestions have gotten this lady nowhere..when did we become such an emasculated society, such that one deluded individual can hold us paralyzed with fear? We are Canadians! This mans (ONE MAN!) actions are unacceptable, but all of our institutions pay a feeble lip service..I’m not advocating violence (well, not the bodily harm type anyways)..I’m saying that we don’t have to stand for this..we live in a lawful society and this guy is breaking it, plain and simple, if we lived in an anarchistic society (which I wouldn’t), then that would be understandable, but the inaction in this situation by those supposedly “Maintaining The Right” is inexcusable..they say not to indulge in vigilante actions, yet offer zero motivation not to..get some guys, force him out, and change the locks, call the police and then charge him with break and enter if he comes back..

  8. I hear you Josh. This situation is ridiculous. The greater point I’m trying to make though is that there are laws in place for this kind of thing, and unfortunately it falls under the civil matter category. Even if someone is acting nuts like this, there’s a process because you can’t just throw someone out of their residence. This guy probably signed a lease, and essentially changed the parameters of that agreement after that. As such, it needs to be addressed through the landlord and tenant board in Alberta or in civil court. In the mean time, he gets to continue to live there. This isn’t unusual. Insane – but not unusual. Worst part – it happens every day. If she or anyone she knows does anything that could be deemed aggressive or confrontational – it could have implications in how this unfolds – especially with a guy like this – who no doubt knows how to work the law. If the goal is to get this situation concluded as quickly as possible – she or a legal representative needs to address this formally. I have no doubt she’ll ultimately prevail – as she owns the building.

    There are many pensioner landlords in Canada. This is just another example of someone taking advantage of one of them.

  9. I don’t understand, how is this a civil thing? Is he not trespassing and causing property damage? As a mortgage broker I had to study legal issues surrounding ownership of property, including trespassing etc. I don’t get how she can’t have the cops haul him out of there, when he is there illegally. Infact, why cant she just have a buddy kick the door in, throw his ass out, and change the locks. She owns the house, she could bulldoze it if she wishes…To much talking on this, not enough action. This guy will never leave until he gets tossed out physically by the cops. and he knows it, so he’s not going anywhere.

  10. Thanks for your comment Laura. The vigilante justice comments are kind of funny. Sure…let’s kick in the door and drag him out.

    He’s not there illegally. They signed a lease, and had an agreement that he would renovate the property in exchange for 3 months of rent. Clearly they had different ideas of what constituted “sprucing up”. It’s a landlord and tenant issue – which qualifies as a civil matter.

    In Alberta – like in any other province or state – you can’t change the locks on a unit without the landlord’s consent. You also can’t breech the obligations of a lease (I’m certain there was one) – in reference to his “offer” to pay $775 a month instead of the $1500 originally agreed upon. There’s a recourse here that needs to be followed. With that said, the guy clearly knows the legal system and is a pro at manipulating it. Rebekah is but one of many cases like this that happen every year – especially to pensioner and elderly landlords.

  11. She needs to sue him in civil court, she will likely get an order to that will allow a bailiff to seize the duplex back. It will cost her more money and time, as he will put in a crazy defence, waste court time, but there is no reason for her not to use the court system, like everyone else with a deadbeat tenant.

  12. Thanks for the comment. I’d agree that this would be an appropriate avenue to pursue. The only catch is she’ll have to spend money – potentially a lot of money. I’m going to post an update to the story tomorrow.

  13. regarding the builders lien, Caverhill can lapse it. This involves sending notice to the lienor advising him that he has 30 days to take court action on that lien. However, given these peoples views, he might actually do that and try to argue his case against her in court.
    If he does not, she can get the lien removed from her title 37 days after she sends the notice.

    It’s not the simplest of legal processes, however it can be done without a lawyer.

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