Landlord Sues Grow Op Operators For Destroying The Place!

A landlord in Calgary is suing former tenants for $105,000 after police discovered a grow-op in the rental property in 2011, which caused extensive damage to the house. David Gin and Michelle Chen were charged, but only Chen was convicted, sentenced, and ordered to pay restitution to landlord Steve Habbi.

“I came home from work and saw basically a police raid in action,” Habbi said. “People in bio suits and bullet-proof vests and guns and things like this, which was really surprising to me … How do people who seem so friendly to your face run something like that?”

Here’s a shocker. Habbi had checked the pair’s references when they first moved in and those all checked out, including Gin’s job as a tax auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency.

200 potted cannabis plants were removed from the property – each with an estimated street value of about $1250 each. If you do the math – that’s $250 grand. The couple had about 100 U.V. lamps in basement bedrooms. The system was set up so that it was being vented inside the house, which expedites the cultivation of mold.

Chen and Gin were charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, production of a controlled substance, theft of water and electricity and mischief. More than a year later, in November 2013, Chen pleaded guilty to production of a controlled substance and charges against Gin were withdrawn.

Chen was given an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community under strict conditions and was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution. When Habbi argued the damages he incurred were well above the restitution amount, he says the Crown told him to sue the couple.

The case is ongoing, and Gin and Chen have yet to file a statement of defense. Steve Habbi has some advice for other landlords, though…

“Mandate in your lease that you will be doing physical home inspections on the interior of the property,” he said. “Your only hope is to deter them from coming into your property.”

Couldn’t agree more, Steve!

6th Time’s a Charm For Deadbeat Tenants!

Susan and Chris Perret have been served with an eviction notice again — the sixth time in two years and only one day after the CBC first broke the story on these two.

Cara Falconer said she rented to the Perrets in Maple Ridge without a reference because she believed them when they told her their previous landlord had stolen their money and left town. Falconer is already out $1,500 after the cheque for April bounced.

The couple gave Falconer a $750 cash damage deposit and $400 cash for a pet damage deposit, as well as three cheques for three months’ rent for the top storey of a house at the north end of 236th Street. But the Falconers are not counting on the rent cheques clearing for the next two months. That’s probably a safe assumption.

Professional Tenants Royally Screw Multiple B.C. Landlords

CBC ran an exclusive story this morning on two highly professional tenants who are working the system in a huge way in British Columbia.

Susan and Chris Perret, have lived nearly rent-free in at least five homes over the past two years. CBC News found records going back to August 2012, when the pair were evicted from one Maple Ridge home. They affect people financially, ignore eviction orders, bounce rent checks, and prey on property owners and landlords. Most importantly – these two know the province’s landlord and tenant legislation better than most people. The only thing they know how to do better than this is moving every 3-9 months.

Amy Spencer, president of Landlord B.C., says tenants like the Perrets are exactly what her association want to warn its members about.

“Ninety-nine per cent of tenants are good, but it’s those ones that get out there, like the ones in Maple Ridge, that give tenants a bad name,” Spencer said.

Landlords who lost money to the Perrets are angry no one at B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch warned them about the couple’s history of evictions.

“When people go around doing it professionally time after time, I mean, somebody — there should be a place that you can check,” said landlord Noel Beaulieu, who said he was out $1,500 from the ordeal.

Kim Gouws, who evicted the Perrets last month, said she was frustrated there didn’t seem to be a way to warn the next landlord.

“Every time I’d call I’d say,’ what about the next person? They’re just going to do this to another innocent person. How can I stop that?” she said. “I couldn’t.”

Credit and background checks everyone.

Landlords Are Getting Pooched By Utility Companies

Let’s be honest. We’re all kind of getting pooched by utility companies. With that said, it’s clearly a dog’s breakfast in New Brunswick, where everyone is paying 8 times what people are paying in Ontario, for natural gas. You read that right – 8 times!

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Marilyn Bogle of her $4,300 February gas bill on a four-unit building in west Saint John. “We’ve heated this building all month and now I get this bill. Where do I get the money to pay this.”

Bogle says her building generates $3,000 a month in rent, which is inclusive of heat for her tenants. A recent bill shows she was charged $52.51 per giga joule plus tax for gas in February — which is almost certainly a Canadian record. It’s eight times more than apartment owners pay for natural gas in Ontario, and double the cost of heating with electricity.

New Brunswick’s Energy and Utilities Board was so alarmed about escalating gas prices in January that it issued a warning to consumers of likely price spikes coming in February. But nothing compels retailers to disclose what those price spikes are until customers are billed for them, after the fact.

That’s a bit nuts – but – the winds are a changin’. Enbridge recently applied to Ontario regulators to hike up natural gas rates in Canada’s most populous province by 40% – so that should even out the disparity with our comrades in New Brunswick.

Holy Geez! What The Hell Is Going On In Halifax?

So…this happened in January. Halifax resident Devon Berquist had some house issues to return to after a short trip away. While those were being addressed, she claimed the landlord put her up in an equally issue ridden property. Between a posse of rats, frozen toilets, and mould, ACORN Canada ended up getting involved to represent the tenants, and the CBC ended up running a story on the whole thing. All of this ended up fuelling a protest outside of Halifax’s city hall, with about 40 tenants demanding the city do something about inhabitable living conditions in some of the city’s rental units while holding rubber effigies of rats to emphasize their point.

Councillor Jennifer Watts accepted a letter from the protesters on behalf of Halifax regional council. The council is awaiting a report from staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality, who have been asked to look at tightening restrictions on landlords.

“I think a licensing program would just make a difference, hopefully, in actually being more of a preventative action to really keep on top of what the quality and safety issues are within the existing housing stock,” Watts said, as protesters marched in the background.

Like many cities with sizeable student populations, Halifax sees a significant transient renter base. To boot – large-scale landlords own significant swaths of rental turf, and low-income renters such as students are either pushed to enclaves, or forced to live in substandard conditions.

“The real issue here is the Halifax Regional Municipality needs landlord licencing,” says Evan Coole, organizer with the Halifax-Dartmouth chapter of ACORN. “We have a minimum standards by-law, the M-100. It spells out all a landlord’s supposed to do [and] it’s really reasonable stuff.” Coole claims this is all fine and dandy, but the by-law doesn’t get enforced properly. Coole claims by-law inspectors do the minimum in the vast majority of cases, and nothing ever really gets resolved as it should.

In an effort to create a fair and accurate characterization of the situation as possible, and as reported by the media, Ms. Berquist’s lived in the initial house she rented for 2 1/2 years, which she described as “OK” – even though she cited peeling plasters and drafty windows as things that came with the turf. Upon her return to the house after the leak was fixed, she started setting traps and claims to have caught the 30 rats quoted in the initial piece by the CBC, which she claims was as a result of multiple holes in the foundation.

Here’s the update: The tenants ended up settling with the landlord, Wise Man Investments. Prior to the settlement, she claims mould and a rat infestation had forced her and her roommates out of the house earlier than their lease allowed. They were hoping to break their lease without financial repercussions.

Interestingly – the settlement, dated March 6 and mediated by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, does not mention the tenants’ original complaints of mould, poor maintenance or the rats they say they trapped in the house.

“We opted for the financial settlement to avoid further stress as the situation had already severely negatively affected many aspects of our lives,” Berquist said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

The settlement also included a signed apology from Berquist, retracting “any comments attributed to me and reported in the media or online that the Metleges are ‘slumlords.'”

She also apologized for “any harm to the reputation and character of my former landlord, Steven Metlege Sr., caused as a result of such comments.”

According to the settlement, both parties have agreed there will be no further claims against either party.

Wow. Is it just me, or is anyone else wondering what the hell is going on in Halifax? Thoughts? Comments? Share them here!

 

Ottawa Couple Face Eviction Over Autistic Son’s Wall Shaking Noise

Add this to the “difficult situation” file and try coming to a conclusion on how you feel about this one after hearing the whole story. The Ottawa Citizen reported parents Keri Oastler and John From were recently served an N5 notice by their landlord over the noise their autistic son has been making. The couple literally just moved in to the unit on a year long lease that started on October 1st.

According to the article, the formal notice came after tenants below and beside the family complained the noise was “like a 50-pound box being dropped repeatedly.” The notice said the two neighbours were disturbed by “running, jumping and screaming” between 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. — the only times that From says his son is at home and awake. As is common with N5 notices in the province of Ontario, the family has been afforded 7 days to rectify the problem.

From’s son, Logan — an 80-pound, blond, blue-eyed boy — occasionally has tantrums, though they are becoming less and less frequent, his parents say. He will sometimes “squeak” and loves to climb and jump, so much so that his parents say they’re considering acrobatics as a career path. After this whole exchange – From and Oastler no longer want to live in what they’ve described as a hostile environment and are currently considering registering a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I can understand where they’re coming from. They just moved in to this place. Kind of difficult to feel unwelcome amidst all this.

Residents of the townhouse community on Lisgar stret were set aback a bit on the initial story about this on the 11th.

Noise complaints have to be pretty severe in order for most people to complain. A lack of concrete division between units (as is the case here) can do nothing for the dampening of transferable sound, so I can definitely appreciate where the other residents are coming from. As a parent, I can also appreciate where Oastler and From are coming from. It sounds like their son’s condition is a challenge, and situations like these have a tendency to put you on the defensive – but what do you do? The other tenants have the right to the reasonable enjoyment of their units, and the “noise” they’re complaining about sounds like it’s occurring at pretty inopportune times. Imagine sitting down to dinner or trying to get your kids down for the night, and hearing the “constant and repeated dropping of a 50 lb. box”.

I think we can all imagine being on both sides of the aisle with this one. According to the Oye Times, who also did a piece on the dilemma, the property management company was not “properly informed” of Logan’s disability by From. From claims he did in fact explain that his son has autism and would be making a little more noise than usual.

As an example of the frequent impossibility that many landlords find themselves in – had the landlord denied the application for tenancy based on the explanation of Logan’s disability, From and Oastler could have applied to the Ontario Human Right’s Commission for discrimination on the basis of disability. Now, they’re doing it anyways. This kind of thing can happen. Landlords can get raked over the coals over stuff like this – even if they do the right thing and have good intentions. To add a level of complexity to the situation – the landlord is also bound by the will of the condominium board (they pushed on the notice serving with the owner/property manager) – proving that condo landlords have it a little harder.

In the end, it sounds like it just wasn’t a good match between unit and tenant. From and Oastler are better served to be living in a single family home or a more audibly insulated unit from their neighbours. What do you think? Share an opinion here. I’d love to hear the thoughts of other landlords and tenants.

Freemen On The Land Is Not So Free After All

As reported earlier this weekend, Andreas Pirelli (a.k.a. Andreas Antonacci) was arrested and removed from Rebekah Caverhil’s duplex after a being ordered to evict the premises by the court of the Queen’s bench in Calgary. Since he didn’t leave, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the police took him into custody  – not only because he didn’t leave when we was supposed to – but also because of some pesky outstanding arrest warrants in Quebec. Interesting development to say the least. You might be asking yourself what those outstanding arrest warrants were over. Well…let’s see.

Oh Hello. I'd ask you to come in...but...you know...this is an embassy.
Oh Hello. I’d ask you to come in…but…you know…this is an embassy.

The Huffington Post and Calgary Sun reported what the laundry list of accused crimes he faces in Quebec.  That didn’t stop Ms. Malouf from talking to the Globe and Mail about the ordeal with the world’s best tenant.

In 2007 – Pirelli (Antonacci) moved into a unit that Ms. Malouf owned under the guise of “housesitting” for a friend. Ms. Malouf took pity on him, and allowed him to stay with the understanding that he’d be paying the rent. Sure enough – as the housesitting arrangement came to a close, Antonacci declared that residence an embassy and proceeded to tell Ms. Malouf that she had no rights and was incapable of removing him from the unit. In other words – he did this exact thing to this poor lady. One small detail to note though – at some point during this heated exchange between Malouf and Pirelli/Antonacci – he allegedly threw her down a flight of stairs, breaking her pelvis, arm, leg, and ankle. Antonacci, who had pleaded not guilty, stopped showing up during his 2010 trial and a warrant was issued for his arrest. As such – there was never an opportunity to rule on Ms. Malouf’s allegations. Considering Ms. Caverhill’s ordeal has been brewing for 2 years like a bad craft beer, it’s safe to assume the reason Antonacci never showed up for his court dates was because he changed his name to “Pirelli” and skidaddled to Calgary (cue the Benny Hill music).

Lawyer Guillaume Langlois, a Montreal defence attorney, confirmed he’s still the lawyer in a pending file involving Mr. Antonacci, but he said he hasn’t spoken to his client since he stopped going to court.

“I’m still in the file, but he’s under a warrant, I think,” Mr. Langlois said Wednesday. “It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to him.”

Well…let’s hope they get acquainted again.

 

Embassy Tenant Andreas Pirelli Arrested This Morning In Calgary

Here’s an interesting development to the story with Andreas Pirelli. According to the Globe and Mail, he was arrested this morning in Calgary without incident from the duplex he “rented” from pensioner landlord Rebekah Caverhill and  had illegally claimed was an embassy. There were a few outstanding arrest warrants in Quebec apparently, and the police were able to swoop in at around the time he was required to vacate the house, and took him into custody without incident.

You know…this is just a suggestion – but – clearly this guy fled Quebec and changed his name in Calgary for a reason. Just sayin’.

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.

Use A Move In Inspection Report, Already. Geez.

Caught this hot piece on the Globe and Mail today. A little ditty called “How To Steer Clear Of Bad Tenants”. In it – the move in inspection report is cited as the second most important document between the landlord and his/her tenant, besides the actual lease. Here’s the kicker. Most landlords don’t use one.

This is interesting. When you rent a car they use one. When you rent a boat they use one. Hell…I remember renting movies at Blockbuster and getting a call about the DVD copy of State of Grace I rented once looking like it had been dropped when they opened the case. Some people think they’re experts at “reading” other people. They convince themselves out of the necessity to cover all the bases. They don’t check credit scores. They don’t call previous landlord references. They just assume that since the new tenant they just rented a unit to is employed and capable of paying the rent, the likelihood of a kegger is minimal or non-existent.

I’ll cut to the chase. You should always use one. It’s the basis of an understanding – one that is paired with a mutual acknowledgement between you and the individual(s) renting from you, that what you are providing is in a certain condition prior to move in, and that it is meant to be returned to you in a certain condition. It’s as simple as that. Using a move in inspection report has the potential to save you money, clear up any excuse of miscommunication, and covers you in the event of something going south.

In British Columbia, a Condition Inspection Report is required by provincial law. The tenant and the landlord need to complete, sign, and date the form to show the condition of the residential premises at the beginning and end of the rental agreement. B.C. is smart about this, especially with such a great concentration of renters. Think about it – one of the biggest sources of conflict between landlord and tenant is often condition of apartments. A mutually acknowledged and signed off report greatly reduces the number of hearings that go to the LTB. The Northwest Territories, Alberta, and Nunavut also require signed and mutually acknowledged inspection reports to be completed.

It’s not the law in other provinces, however, they’re still highly recommended and it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. The CMHC put together a handy little rundown of what you should look for and point out when doing an inspection. Here’s a taste.

  • Walls and ceilings: note any dents, holes, or cracks in the plaster; scuff marks that don’t rub off; tears, bubbles, or peeling wallpaper.
  • Floors: note stains or discolouration in carpets; tears in linoleum; cracked or chipped tiles; dents, scuffs, or stains on hardwood floors.
  • Trim (including moldings, door and window sills and door and window frames): note stains, cracks, leaks or other problems.
  • Electrical outlets and lights: make sure they function.
  • Bathroom(s): make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; water carries sufficient pressure in the shower and toilet; hot water tank holds enough for your needs. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; walls around the tub for “sponginess”; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
  • Kitchen: make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; all appliances work and are clean. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
  • Exterior doors and windows: make sure they seal properly and the locks work; watch for signs of water.
  • Deck, balcony or patio, if applicable: check for chipped stone, warped or cracked boards, or problems with exterior siding.

Smart indeed. You can see the full list here. Need a template for one? Here’s one.