By John Tenpenny
Evicting problem tenants has always been an issue for landlords, but a whole new level of the “tenant from hell” is cropping up in the country’s largest markets where vacancy rates are low and rents are high.
This combination has made cities like Toronto, a breeding ground for illegal rooming houses, often run, not by the property owners, but tenants.
The latest example, highlighted by a story in the September issue of Toronto Life magazine, chronicles the journey of a couple who thought they had rented their home in downtown Toronto to the perfect tenant, when in fact, the tenant in question was a serial fraudster who made a living by renting houses, claiming to be a tenant, then illegally subletting rooms to as many residents as he could cram in. It was later found that the fraudster was doing the same thing at four other homes, raking in an estimated $200,000 a year.
In order to terminate the tenancy, the owners needed proof that tenant had violated the terms of the lease that clearly stated that only those listed on the rental application were to occupy the premises. With the help of a paralegal, who specializes in evicting tenants, the owners went before the Landlord and Tenant Board with a heft of evidence that included tenants who were ready to testify, copies of the tenant’s bizarre rental contract, and photos and video of the renovations made to the home. At the hearing the tenant agreed to terminate the lease and vacate the property.
Another option for landlords, used in this case as well, is to inform the fire department of the existence of an illegal rooming house so fire code violations can be registered. In this case, because the owners notified Toronto Fire Services of the tenant’s actions immediately, the charges against the property owners were dropped.
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Landlords have always struggled to evict difficult tenants, but the issues is being propagated by low vacancy rates and high rents in many of Canada’s largest cities.