I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing the variety of gripes about landlords. Very few people like landlords and it’s easy as pie to pick on them. Too easy. As a matter of fact, I’m going to take it a notch up. I think landlords generally suffer from a grossly misinformed perception from renters and entitled people and are considered a privileged group – receiving more criticism than they generally deserve.
Sure – there are lousy landlords. Lots of them. I particularly have negative reserves of sympathy for predatory or blatantly negligent landlords who don’t care about the well being of their tenants or who ignore their professional and legal responsibilities and obligations. If you’re a George Woolsey – I think you need to go to jail.
With all of that said, Nina Willis was charged with fraud this week, and it’s about time. She – along with every other tenant who games the system for their own benefit (especially in tenant friendly provinces like Ontario) – are no different than con men. They should all be charged with fraud and we should have a public registry for people like this. Landlords, like consumers, should be protected. They deserve it.
Take Adam Buttigieg as another example. He has a gamut of fraud convictions and appearances at the Ontario LTB. The Toronto Star did a wonderful exposé on this guy last year. They revealed how tenants can delay eviction by exploiting protections offered through Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board, and how privacy rules keep landlords in the dark about bad tenants. It’s about time on that, too.
Nina Willis has been ordered out of at least seven properties since 2005. She’s a professional liar and fraudster. She deserves to go to jail because she knowingly and willfully lied on tenant applications and would exaggerate maintenance complaints as justification for withholding rent. Sometimes she’d even accuse landlords of discrimination or harassment. Whatever to delay the process as long as possible. Once that was done, she would effect her perfected dance of waiting for N4s, then waiting for L1’s and a hearing at the LTB, and then providing checks for the arrears amount during the mediation process, which would bounce. Stalling evictions in the province of Ontario is a relatively easy thing to do. Once she exhausted her options, she’d have already bought herself months of living rent free and would simply move onto the next landlord to do the same thing.
There are bad landlords. That’s a fact. There are also bad tenants. That’s also a fact. The most important fact in the province of Ontario is that if you’re a bad tenant, you can buy time on your landlord’s dime to pay the rent. You can use your landlord as a bank. You can live rent free for months if you really wanted to, and you can do it a number of times without getting caught. I understand the need for privacy, and believe everyone is entitled to it – but if you exploit people – you should be exposed. I’m glad Nina Willis’ is getting the justice she deserves, but it doesn’t change the fact that being a landlord in this province is a tough job and those who do it, suffer from a significant degree of financial exposure courtesy of our friends at Queen’s Park. Good legislation is airtight and adaptive when necessary. Ontario’s laws aren’t there yet, but they should be.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear them!