Toledo’s Landlords Slow On Lead Safe Ordinance

In the summer of 2016, Toledo became the first city in Ohio to pass a law that prevents lead poisoning in the most at-risk children by requiring home inspections of rental properties. The “lead safe” ordinance calls for some rental properties built before 1978 to be inspected and deemed safe before leasing to tenants. Unfortunately, the city’s landlords have been slow off the mark. As it currently stands, landlords have until September 17, 2017 to gain the certification. Those who fail to comply are facing fines of $50 per day per dwelling unit with a maximum annual penalty of $10,000 per unit. Five months into Toledo’s passage of the law, only 22 properties have completed the steps necessary to be in compliance. As per the Toledo city paper; Chapter 1760 of the Toledo Municipal Code, also known as the Lead Safe Rental Ordinance:

The ordinance states that no property owner of a building built before 1978 with one to four rental units may permit people to live in the unit or provide child-care services in the structure without obtaining a lead-safe certificate for the property.

The average can of paint in the 1900s to around 1950 contained up to 50 percent lead carbonate. For 50 years, the U.S. used lead based paint extensively. 40 years ago, political leaders declared war on lead paint, citing evidence that even small amounts of lead can have awful effects on young brains, intellectual growth and cardiovascular, immune and hormone systems. The federal government began phasing out leaded gasoline in 1975, and banned lead-based household paints in 1978. In 2000, a federal strategy was deployed to end lead poisoning in children within a decade.

This all produced the desired effect. By 2006, blood lead levels in children under 6 had fallen to close to a tenth of their 1970s levels. But that positive momentum has since almost stopped. By the most recent estimate, about 37 million homes and apartments still have some lead paint on walls and woodwork, 23 million with potentially hazardous levels of lead in soil, paint chips or household dust. The Ohio Department of Health has identified 18 high risk ZIP codes in Lucas County. High risk ZIP codes contain at least one census tract where 12 percent or more of children tested in 2001 had blood lead levels of 10 micrograms and are further defined by demographic and socioeconomic data. One academic study predicted more than 3,400 children in Toledo have lead poisoning – an appalling statistic. The Ohio Department of Health estimates that approximately 19,000 children in Ohio have lead poisoning.

Any rental properties constructed prior to 1978 and in-home daycares constructed prior to 1978 will need to register with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and obtain a Lead-Safe Certificate. If a Local Lead Inspection takes place and the property passes upon the first inspection, the Lead-Safe Certificate is valid for six (6) years. If the property has undergone Lead Abatement in eliminating lead hazards consistent with the Ohio law, the LeadSafe Certificate is valid for twenty (20) years. According to the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, inspections are likely to cost somewhere between $200-400, depending on the inspector. Considering the circumstances, this is an ordinance that makes sense. The consequences of not complying with it are considerable.

Guys, You Should Tell Your Landlord If You’re Going To Grow Pot.

A grow-op, whether legal or not, is still a high-risk activity

In August of 2016, Health Canada expanded rules for medical marijuana patients through the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. They were granted the right to access their cannabis three ways.

First – They can register with Health Canada to grow a “limited” amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes. Second – Designate someone else to grow it. If a patient is not healthy enough to grow their own, someone else can provided they pass a background check showing they haven’t been convicted of a drug offence in the last 10 years and aren’t growing for more than two people, themselves included. Third – Getting it from one of 34 Health Canada-approved producers — the only legal source under the current laws.

Seems great, right? Not really. At least not from the perspective of landlord and retired fire inspetor Darryl Spencer. Go Public at CBC News told his story in full force last week, shining a light on what is increasingly becoming a complicated issue.

Spencer has owned a rental property in Kamloops, B.C. for over 10 years. After receiving complaints from one of his tenants about radiating heat from the floor and electrical breakers tripping, he discovered his basement tenant’s legal (albeit scattered and poorly set up) grow set up. The tenant received a medical marijuana license, enabling him to grow up to 60 plants without the permission or knowledge of his landlord. After learning of the development, he disclosed to his insurance company that he had a legal set up for the plants supported by a license from the federal government. His reward? Losing his coverage and having his policy cancelled.

Since last year’s new rules, landlords have little to no recourse if a tenant is growing licensed medical marijuana. They don’t even have the right to know it’s happening. You read that right. Under most basic home insurance policies, marijuana-related damages or anything that companies believe is “high risk” is not covered. That view is shared by many insurance companies, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, since a greater likelihood of water damage, mould, fire, vandalism and burglary exists.

While regulations may allow for the legal growing of marijuana for medical purposes, it does not change the structural risk grow-ops pose to homes and condos – Andrew McGrath, Insurance Bureau of Canada

So in other words – a tenant’s privacy trumps the rights of a property owner – at least as far as the federal government is concerned. Besides being ridiculously short sighted and ill considered, to boot, the government is leaving it up to the municipalities to enforce whether the grow set ups are safe. The problem with that is federal privacy rules prevent local authorities from knowing where marijuana is being grown. There also is no system in place to proactively check if tenants are growing the allowed number of plants and following their permit.

The federal government’s role is to ensure people who need medical marijuana have access – Jane Phillpott, Health Minister

Two months after his policy was cancelled, Spencer ended up finding a new insurance company that specializes in domestic cannabis-operations. The coverage cost almost twice what he used to pay and has a much higher deductible. The story has a happy ending though.

Go Public contacted Gore Mutual, Spencer’s original insurance company. They offered to reinstate Spencer’s policy for almost the same amount he used to pay, to which Spencer took up.

 

Absolute Idiocy On Unpaid Electrical Bills in Prince Edward Island

In another fantastic assumption that landlords are rich, entitled building owners, the wise city councillors in Summerside, Prince Edward Island are contemplating what to do about unpaid electrical bills in the small town of just under 15,000. The city takes in $20 million a year from the utility with the majority of people paying on time, however, after council “discovered” 1.3 million dollars of delinquency, all these city councillors determined the problem needed to be decisively addressed. Their proposed solution? Landlords should pay the bill. Seriously.

Summerside’s Director of Finance, Rob Philpott said involving landlords is just another option for council to consider that if for whatever reason the tenant is unable to pay in a timely matter or doesn’t pay at all, then landlords could potentially be held accountable for that. “There are 225 landlords in the city. It is safe to stay that if they became aware that they might be liable for the debt of a tenant who skipped out… it would generate a lot of attention,” added Philpott. If passed, this new law would affect residential, commercial, and industrial units.

If the municipality passed this law tomorrow, and also got all 225 of these landlords to foot this bill, they’d be looking over $5700 a piece.

City councillor Frank Costa thinks this is a step in the right direction. “Landlords have a collective responsibility to the city to ensure that we are not alone in having to absorb delinquent accounts,” added Costa. “If it is communicated well and there is an education process out there, I think people will recognize the value of this. I think we are giving them notice.”

Fellow councillor Tyler DesRoches disagreed.

“We are not signing up the landlord for the power; we’re signing up their tenant. The landlord has no idea whether or not their tenant is paying on time.”

Coun. Gordie Whitlock owns rental properties and agreed with DesRoches.“If you have a consistent collection policy with a consistent cut off time as to when the final notice is given after there is no attempt to pay, then there is no need for the landlord to be involved whatsoever,” said Whitlock.

Why the city doesn’t consider a more aggressive policy with respect to it’s unpaid bills is a head scratcher. Why the 1.3 million dollars in unpaid bills even occurred in the first place is interesting. The city of Summerside services 6950 customers. It’s reasonable to expect this utility to manage its accounts better. That’s their job! If they can’t wrap their heads around it, as a municipality supported for profit organization, how do they expect the small city’s 225 private landlords to be any better? Why should the city’s landlords accept this? How would the city’s landlords manage this any better? Are they to open their mail? How would landlords manage this as a new issue? Is not paying your electrical bill immediate grounds for an eviction? How many chances would someone get to settle up their electricity bill? This seems like a remarkably short sighted, objective ignoring, illogical, precedent setting idea. Utilities can and do ask for deposits in advance, engage collection agencies, cut off service and sue the tenants. Landlords have to wait until the tenants move out and then initiate a small claims suit at their own expense. What this whole idea represents is a desire to see electrical utility delinquencies at zero, improving the cash position of the municipality, at the overall expense of the landlord.

Time to go back to the well, city councillors.

Perfect Storm For Landlords in Alberta

The slow down in the oil patch is affecting Alberta’s major city residential landlords. Seriously. The market was once quite hot. Now…not so much. CBC reported a doubling of the vacancy rate late last year.

Edmonton is a renter’s paradise right now. Economic slowness, coupled with more supply than demand in terms of available units, has flexed adversity on Alberta’s landlords. Vacancy rates have increased steadily since last year, and now range from six to eight per cent, depending on property type. The average rent in Edmonton and the surrounding area has dropped between 10 and 15 per cent from a five-year high in July 2014. This has been forcing landlords to get creative about attracting tenants and signing leases, including free Wi-Fi, amenities, groceries, and even flat screen televisions as part of rental agreements. We touched on this phenomenon in Halifax late in 2013, when landlords there were offering free iPads to prospective tenants.

In Calgary – a city where mayor Naheed Nenshi famously criticized what he considered rent gouging in 2014, things are not that much better. Rents have fallen astonishingly fast. A 20% drop in January of this year from the beginning of 2015. The Calgary Real Estate Board is anticipating that the vacancy rate will rise to 7% by the fall. By the fall of 2017, CMHC expects the vacancy rate in the city to decline back to 5.5 per cent. Calgary’s 2016 civic census revealed that while the city’s population increased slightly to more than 1.2 million in April, more people moved out of the city than arrived here. More than 20,800 units were empty in April, a 67 per cent spike over last year’s levels, which brought the vacancy rate for dwellings to 4.3 per cent, according to the census. According to the Financial Post, the vacancy rate hasn’t been this high since 2004, when the city reported the lowest level of migration in 12 years. A city hall analysis of historical housing data shows there are more vacant units in 2016 than in any of the past 16 years. To put this into perspective, Canada’s national vacancy average for urban centres is 3.3 per cent.

Even rural cities in Alberta have been affected.The Government of Alberta annually conducts the Rural Apartment Vacancy and Rental Cost Survey of multi-family dwellings in Alberta’s rural communities between the months of May and August. This survey does not include cities whose population is more 10,000 people. Vacancy rates have increased and decreased in a cyclical pattern with vacancy in rural Alberta communities being on an upward trend, having risen 3.7 per cent in 2014, up to 8.2 per cent in 2015. Not only are vacancy rates up in general, in a number of communities they are at their highest point since 2006.

Experts say the next big hit to the market could come in the spring, when many leases typically come up for renewal. Not good.

Questions? Comments? Are you a landlord in Alberta? We’d love to hear from you.

No… Tenants Can’t Just Airbnb Their Place in Quebec

It seems like you can do everything on the internet these days. Airbnb is and has been a wonderful way to make a bit of extra cash when it comes to renting out your home, cottage, or vacation property. Things can get a little dicey though, when you don’t own the property in question. In Quebec, you need to get your landlord’s approval first. The province’s rental board (Régie du logement) recently reached the decision when it ruled on a case involving a Montreal tenant who rented out his downtown condo to tourists on Airbnb.

The landlord rents the luxury one bedroom unit for $1,770 per month. After receiving numerous complaints related to transiency, smoking in hallways, and a general change of pace, the landlord determined the tenant was renting out his unit on Airbnb for more than double the rent he was paying. Landlord gets miffed. Increases the rent by $1000 a month. Tenant refuses said rent increase. Bad bing/bada boom – you’re in front of a judge.

The province handed down the landmark precedent setting decision in one fell swoop. The board ruled that tenants cannot rent out their apartment to tourists without getting the landlord’s approval first.

“The message that these lucrative sublets sends to landlords is that the value of the unit does not represent the value of the rental market,” the board concluded. “The frequency, the difficulty in verifying the identity of sub-tenants, the inherent risks … are all issues that can be raised,” the judgment read.

A cornerstone element of this decision was that the province felt that it was clear the dwelling was being rented out for commercial purposes, not residential, which is what the original lease itself was predicated on. The ruling indicated that tenants are required to get their landlord’s approval prior to doing anything on Airbnb, and that the landlord has 15 days to refuse if they don’t approve. The ruling also indicated that the landlord cannot spike rent because a tenant decides to list a unit on Airbnb, which in essence is encouragement by the province to get tenants and landlords to partake in a healthy meal of being reasonable and co-operative. All in all – tenants can’t do anything without clearing it by their landlord first. A logical ruling. Lastly – a tenant who lists their unit on a home-sharing site cannot charge more than the price of rent.

In an effort to be fair and balanced, Airbnb does provide some good tips for using their service, which include but are not limited to, maybe mentioning to your landlord that you’re sub leasing your place to strangers for an assumed profit. If you’re thinking about starting an Airbnb business on the back of your landlord, you might want to consider reading this paper by Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon.

Excellent work, Quebec! Supress the hustle.

 

Ontario’s Landlord & Tenant Act Has More Holes Than A Block of Swiss Cheese.

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!

What Is Up With Mayors and Mayor Hopefuls Piping Up About Landlords?

I don’t get it. Naheed Nenshi told Calgary’s landlords to be “ethical” last week and not gouge tenants. Ok fine. Now -Toronto mayoral hopeful Olivia Chow is on the campaign trail saying she’s going to introduce stiffer measures for bum landlords who don’t maintain their properties. Some of the things that bother her are broken light fixtures, peeling paint, and bedbugs.  It bothers her so much that she wants to create a city task force of sorts, that would issue display grades – much like they do for restaurants – on rental properties. Yeah because landlords in Ontario don’t have it tough enough already. Can anyone sense my sarcasm?

While negligent and reckless landlords should unreservedly be penalized and dealt with, I think it’s important to remember that Ontario (Ms. Chow is running for mayor of Toronto) is a province with legislation that is very tenant friendly. While the system isn’t perfect – it’s the one we have. Tenants have as many applications to make to the Ontario LTB as landlords do. They have remedies. The Ontario act is also very clear in terms of what landlords are required to do and what they’re required to provide. Every province – and as indicated this month on the blog, even every state  – is different. Toronto, and the greater province of Ontario, does not need yet another layer of bureaucracy or a grading system.

There are bad landlords. George Woolsey comes to mind. They’re not fair, they don’t follow the law, and they have little to no concern about your well being. Flop houses and housing environments that are hazardous and not suitable for residence need to be handled. Everyone is entitled to live in a habitable and safe environment – BUT – I don’t think this warrants an election plan from a mayoral hopeful. Just like Naheed NenshiOlivia Chow is suggesting that something needs to be done on a municipal level about this in Toronto.

Like with most things, there is always good and bad, but it’s important to remember that there are also bad tenants. I don’t think Ms. Chow is labelling all landlords as “bad”, but I think she’s proposing something on the election stump that has the capacity to indirectly just make it harder for the majority of landlords in Ontario that are reasonable, responsible, and solid. The only good laws are the ones that are balanced and strike harmony between all of the interests in the mix. As much as I strongly dislike some of the aspects of Ontario’s act, on it’s face, it’s generally balanced. It is however the epitome of a “second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chance” kind of legislation and isn’t necessarily fair for landlords in many cases. It’s pretty easy to game the system and exploit a situation in the nation’s most populous province. Making money or even breaking even isn’t exactly easy here.

Mayors should be less concerned about trying to admonish landlords. That’s not their job…and there has to be an easier way to address properties not fit for habitation – if it’s in fact enough of a problem in Toronto that an elementary grading system needs to be introduced –  than making our job harder than it already is.

Questions? Comments? We wanna hear ’em!

 

Mayor Naheed Nenshi Thinks Calgary’s Landlords Need To Take It Down A Chevron

Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a great mayor. The majority of Calgarians think so. He’s a responsive and witty guy, and clearly he’s doing something right. I’m personally quite fond of him too – especially with some of these gems on Twitter.

Last week, he propped himself up on the soapbox to talk about Calgary’s landlords (“too many landlords” to be specific), and how they’re screwing tenants and gouging them on rent. There are some alarming rent increases going on in the city. To put this into perspective, one needs to consider a few things.

In July of this year, the CMHC indicated  that Calgary has one of the lowest vacancy rates of any major city in the country. That rate is 1.4 percent. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is just over $1,130 per month. An average two-bedroom apartment goes for just under $1,300 per month. Alberta’s provincial residential tenancies act doesn’t limit how much landlords can raise rents, but they have to give three months’ notice for monthly renters and they can only do it once per year. If you’re a tenant on a year long lease, you wouldn’t see a rent increase inside of the year of your lease. Here’s a few other facts about Calgary as well…

25,000 people a year are moving to Calgary. You heard that right. The city’s population is surging. Property taxes and utilities have also increased in the city, not to mention other municipal and residential costs for residents – both landlords and tenants.

On Friday, Mayor Nenshi clarified that his statement on rent gouging was largely based anecdotal evidence and not, in fact, a systemic problem.

“What I’m calling for is ethical business more than anything else. If you’re a landlord and your costs have gone up … then of course you pass that on to your tenant. That’s part of your business. But every day I get calls in my office from people who have been given no notice, a month’s notice, of 30, 40 per cent increases in their rent,” Nenshi added. “And nobody’s costs have gone up that much.”

Nenshi’s comments drew the ire of Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, who considered the comment an inaccurate characterization of the majority of Calgary’s landlords.

What do you think? Do you live in Calgary? Are you a tenant or landlord? Do you think it’s the city’s responsibility to provide more affordable housing? Do you think that Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act should change to cap increases that landlords can impose? Share your thoughts with us!

Arkansas: Bad For Tenants…But Is It Good For Landlords?

The U.S. state of Arkansas was recently featured in an excellent Vice News piece on what tenants in Bill Clinton’s home pasture deal with when they rent. The piece – entitled “Arkansas” The Worst Place To Rent In America” – was a fascinating look into a place where the lack of laws regulating the rental market work backwards. As founders of a software that serves landlords – not really tenants – and as landlords ourselves, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t sympathize more with the plight of property owners renting out to tenants. As we’ve said before, it’s a thankless job most of the time. With that said, we’re also advocates of healthy and productive relationships between landlords and tenants. Relationships that are fair, follow the law in whatever province, state, or district you happen to be in, and that include methods and approaches that are reasonable and equitable.

Here’s a few key things in Arkansas. It’s the only state in the entire country that has no “implied warranty of habitability”. In english, that means landlords have no legal obligation to repair or maintain their properties – unless there was a written or oral agreement to fix something. It’s also the only state where you can be fined and jailed if you don’t pay your rent on time. Seriously. Here it is. To real estate investors – this could be perceived as an ideal place to invest your money. The existing law favours landlords heavily, and repossessing property there is fairly easy to do when tenants don’t pay rent. On the other side of the debate, a 3rd of Arkansas’ almost 3 million residents are renters, and a high percentage of those renters have serious concerns and issues with the properties they rent. Most renters are agreeing to take their units “as is”. By law – tenants are required to pay their rent no matter what – even if landlords don’t repair or maintain their buildings and units. Taking into account that Arkansas is the second poorest state in the U.S., and that 18% of the population live below the poverty line, this creates a situation where in arrears renters get swept up into the criminal justice system.

As a tenant, if you don’t pay your rent – even if your roof has holes in it and your windows are broken, not paying gives you 10 days to vacate. If you don’t – you could go to jail. Don’t bother contesting the order to vacate, because in the vast majority of cases, tenants don’t get the opportunity. The legal process for getting in front of a judge is convoluted by the black and white insistence of whether the money is owed, and if it is, for whatever reason that might be, you’re more likely to see the inside of a jail cell than a judge. The state’s unique “failure to vacate” law sees tenants charged as criminals purely on their landlords’ say-so, without any independent investigation by prosecutors. That’s why 90% of tenants who receive an order to vacate decide to just leave. It’s simply a criminal issue immediately. To boot – Arkansas is one of only 10 states that don’t prohibit retaliatory eviction. For the uninitiated – retaliatory eviction is when the landlord doesn’t like something you’ve done..like the reporting of a health or building code violation…and wants you out of the unit. So, in short – if you’re landlord doesn’t like your face, you can be evicted. If you make a complaint, you can be evicted. If your landlord simply wants you out of the unit, and you’ve been paying on time – they can rip up a good check or make themselves conveniently unavailable to accept cash from you on whatever agreed upon date, and you’d technically be evictable.

The Non-Legislative Commission on the Study of Landlord-Tenant Laws, created in 2011 by the state legislature, released a report on Dec. 31st, 2013 that recommended 15 tenant-landlord law reforms. Lynn Foster, professor at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a member of the study commission, said, “If you’re on a month to month lease, maybe it says the landlord makes repairs, maybe it doesn’t — but if you report something to code, the first thing the landlord is going to do is try and evict you. That’s why it’s imperative that if we adopt a warranty of habitability, we also adopt a statute prohibiting retaliatory eviction.”

Human Rights Watch, an organization that follows rights violations worldwide, issued a report in 2013 called “Pay the Rent or Face Arrest: Abusive Impacts of Arkansas’s Draconian Evictions Law.”

This is all a far cry from some of the provinces and states that have laws that in some cases favour tenants. Good laws achieve as much of a possible balance possible between the obligations of providing habitable and functional dwelling to people paying for them while also protecting the landlord’s rights and property. The lack of this in Arkansas has police being involved with evicting people for not paying their rent – an almost ridiculous waste of that resource – and people who don’t pay their rent for whatever reason in many cases entering the criminal justice system.

What do you think? Are you an Arkansas landlord? Are you an Arkansas tenant? Share your thoughts with us.

Home Insurance Industry Kicks Montreal Landlord To The Curb After Repair

Montreal property owner Sari Buksner is in the midst of a nightmare of sorts, courtesy of her insurance company, and she’s yet to wake up from it.

Back in 2012, one of her tenants alerted her to a leak dripping from the second floor to the first. Her insurance firm saw the problem was a valve linking to her water heater on the second floor. They also proactively noticed a completely separate leak, near the toilet of her third floor. The estimate on the repair work for both claims originally came in at a little under 20K.

According to the original CBC News piece, Buksner said she settled with a contractor recommended by the insurance company after the first one she found declined the job, indicating it was beyond their capabilities. Once she started with the recommended contractor from the insurance company, the work began, and unexpectedly continued for months. Some of the reasons for this included a lack of proper insulation for the new pipes, which froze, creating an even bigger issue than the initial leaks. A rip up was required, and a complete re-do of the work – as in new pipes, gyproc, drywall, painting, etc. etc. The initial $20K that was speculated turned into a little under $87,000 in construction/renovation costs. On top of this – the insurance company paid her $58,155.00 in lost rental income while the work was taking place. The total payout to Buksner was about $145,000. Whoa.

After the work was done, her insurance company decided not to renew her policy – something that insurance companies have the right to do.

So far, she has only found a willing insurer in the substandard market, and that policy would cost her around $11,000, roughly $4,000 more than what she was last paying, per year. Adding insult to injury, she’d be required to pay the whole thing up front and wouldn’t receive water damage protection. Jesus.

Thoughts? Comments? From personal experience, water damage claims aren’t exactly a cakewalk. Here’s another kicker – water damage claims are on the rise in Canada.