“The issue has certainly drawn a lot of concern from our members over the last five years and while we disagreed with the action itself, it does highlight the need for landlords to be proactive when it comes to their properties and tenants,” said Bill Blake, a senior member of the Alberta Landlords Association.
“I think the recent story (on CREW) is a wake-up call to many landlords that passive investment is not the way to go. It’s all about being proactive and even establishing connections with your local law enforcement because (change isn’t going to come quickly).”
His comment follow a recent story on CREW in which two landlords in Chatham, Ont. lost their 12-unit apartment building because in four of the units, the tenants were engaged in illegal activity.
The landlords bought a 12-unit residential apartment in 1995 and had bad tenants who were dealing drugs, trafficking stolen goods, engaged in prostitution among other things, according to an article from the National Post.
Over a 12-year period, the police were called 392 times and from 2002 to 2007, police executed 21 search warrants, arrested 49 people and laid 199 charges. Despite their involvement, police couldn’t keep the criminals in long enough and the building grew a stigma over time that eventually forced the court to confiscate the building in 2012.
The landlords lost the building because authorities believed that the landlords didn't try hard enough to evict the tenants as one witness testified that he had seen one of the landlords buying illegal drugs himself -- and allegedly had photos to prove it.
In 2007, Ontario froze the property under the Civil Remedies Act, after the province alleged the building was an “instrument of unlawful activity,” according to the National Post article.
The move drew criticism from some who said that there is little to no protection for landlords when these cases arise as tenants often walk away unscathed, however Blake says that civil forfeiture cases like this make it all the more important for landlords to be proactive in guarding your investment.
“Being a rental landlord is a full-time job, it’s not a passive investment,” he said, adding that any changes in regulation won’t come quickly, making personal responsibility and an understanding of the Landlord Tenant Act is imperative for any mom and pop landlord.
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A recent case that saw a landlord lose her apartment building due to unruly tenants has drawn calls from one landlord association president who said it’s time for landlords to step up.