Hellish renter leaves landlord pondering rights

‘I’ve had the renter from hell,” said Paul Wadsworth who is sick of hearing tenants cry the blues about slumlords.

‘I’ve had the renter from hell,” said Paul Wadsworth who is sick of hearing tenants cry the blues about slumlords.

“I’m not a slumlord, but I thought people should hear the other side of the story,” he said.

Wadsworth said he provided good accommodation to a woman and her teenage son who, up until April 18, rented his Porter Creek basement suite.

He regularly had difficulty collecting the $775-a-month rent from his tenant, said Wadsworth.

She stopped paying rent mid-December and he is now out more than $3,600, he said.

His tenant was on social assistance and, after trying to get help from Social Services, Wadsworth turned to the government’s consumer services branch.

Because Wadworth’s tenant hadn’t been paying rent, she had breached their verbal contract and he could hand her a 14-day eviction notice, a consumer services officer told him.

Wadsworth handed her a notice, and his tenant vacated the premises within the allotted time.

However, she left five months’ worth of garbage inside the apartment.

Wadsworth had to haul it away — in two truckloads.

“I gave her two copies of the garbage schedule,” he said.

“Really, what it comes down to is somebody at Social Assistance has got to start teaching these people basic life skills — there was so much garbage I could barely move inside the apartment.

“The garbage was stacked so high outside that Yukon Electric couldn’t get in to read the meter.”

When Wadsworth entered his rental suite after his tenant had gone, he discovered pizza boxes piled high and connected cable TV service.

“Cable TV is hardly a necessity for somebody that can’t pay the rent,” he said.

“When these people cry the blues, it really burns my ass; it seems like the tenants have rights, but the landlord doesn’t have any.”

The Landlord Tenant Act holds equitable rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants and both parties are bound by the act, said Fiona Charbonneau, manager of Consumer Services.

“The act is for both; it’s for the landlord and it’s for the tenant,” she said.

“It provides the same protections.”

According to Charbonneau, Wadsworth did everything right, but he could have taken extra steps to protect himself.

Wadsworth and his tenant had a verbal rental agreement and no security deposit was paid.

Verbal agreements are supported under the act and security deposits are not mandatory, but had Wadsworth collected a security deposit (which would have required something be written down) he could have applied that deposit to his tenant’s last month’s rent.

Wadsworth’s tenant was gone within 14 days of receiving a written eviction notice, but if she hadn’t vacated the premises Wadsworth could have gone to a judge for a declaratory order, authorizing a sheriff to remove the tenant and her belongings.

Wadsworth is entering a legal battle with his former tenant to see if he can recover his lost rent.

He has entered a claim for $3,600, which is below the $5,000 limit for small claims court.

Under the act, Wadsworth had to give his former tenant notice to appear in court in person.

“The notice has to be given in writing and in person and neither party requires a lawyer,” said Charbonneau.

Wadsworth doesn’t know if he’ll ever recover the rent money he’s lost because his former tenant is on social assistance, but Charbonneau said he is doing all that he can do.

Consumer Services is also trying to help.

It has qualified mediators that can help resolve landlord-tenant disputes. And Charbonneau can arbitrate if both parties express their desire to enter into binding arbitration in writing.

“We don’t have the ability to give them legal advice on their contracts, but we do provide them with those resources,” said Charbonneau.

“When conflicts arise, we will advise tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities and we’ll assist in mediating disputes to encourage voluntary compliance.”

If possible, consumer services suggests disputes be resolved privately between the landlord and tenant.

“If you were to call my office and you had a situation that you were talking to me about one of the things that I’d encourage you to do is to deal with that particular issue directly with your landlord because it is a relationship you want to maintain in most cases,” said Charbonneau.