Thursday, July 18, 2024

Ottawa landlord left with hefty bill after tenant trashes rental property

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A landlord in Ottawa is facing thousands of dollars in repairs after his tenant left his only rental property damaged and disorderly.

The three-bedroom house in the city’s Elmvale Acres neighbourhood has been vacant for roughly a month, but piles of clothes, garbage and toys remain. Windows, walls, floors and doors have also been damaged.

“I don’t think this is for me anymore,” said Mike, the homeowner who asked us not to share his last name.

“I’m stressed out and my property is being degraded right in front of me. I think I want to get out of the rental business.”

Mike is a private landlord who has been in the business for roughly six years.

He says his latest tenant, a single mother of five at the time, had a portion of her rent subsidized by the municipal and provincial governments.

Mike tells CTV News he was hesitant to rent his property to her, but given her situation, he felt the alternative of having her live in a motel did not seem reasonable.

“I checked with the case worker and said: ‘Is this to keep a family out of a motel?’ and she said ‘yes, that’s exactly what this is like.’ and I guess foolishly now I said ‘okay, I’ll give this family a chance.’ I couldn’t imagine living with five kids in a motel,” he said.

“I gave them a chance. Thankfully, the rent was paid. I guess I’m on the lucky side that way.”

Damaged left to a home one month after the tenant left the home. (Austin Lee/CTV News Ottawa)Mike got his first look at the state of the house when he was called in to repair a broken thermostat.

He got another look a short time later when he was tasked with replacing the washing machine. It was at that point that he asked them to leave. Two months later, the family was gone, leaving behind a hefty bill and a mountain of work.

“I’m not totally depressed because the rent was paid, and she’s gone. But there’s a significant amount of work to bring it back to reasonable living conditions,” he said.

John Dickie is the chair of the Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization.

He tells CTV News this is a situation that is not all that uncommon.

“I have seen worse. There are worse situations that happen compared to this,” said Dickie.

“Some people would call it the cost of doing business and it is that, but it’s significant. In a case where it happens, it’s a significant cost and certainly it discourages people from renting.”

Piles of clothes, garbage and toys remain. Windows, walls, floors and doors have also been damaged. (Austin Lee/CTV News Ottawa)

In a case like the one that Mike is currently facing, the landlord does have some options.

A landlord may submit a claim against the tenant at the Landlord and Tenant Board, but if the tenant is low-income and relying on social assistance, that’s not an option.

“In some situations, the City of Ottawa has what they call the landlord damage fund and in the right circumstances, with the right evidence, the landlord can claim a significant part of the cost of such remediation from that landlord damage fund,” said Dickie.

“I don’t know if that fund would apply in this situation, but that is one of the tools that the city is making available to encourage landlords to rent to tenant who otherwise are maybe a little bit dubious in terms of risk to rent.”

To make a claim like that, a landlord would need clear evidence proving the condition of the property prior to the tenant moving in.

Dickie says that would ideally come in the form of a video or a checklist signed off by the tenant prior to them moving in.

If a landlord has a premium home insurance policy, there may also be room to submit a claim under that plan.

Either way, Mike says the entire situation has soured his view of the business, and he says he’s likely done with it.

“I don’t think I’m going to be hanging around the rental business. It’s sort of turned me off,” he said.

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