Landlord to be jailed for forging rent increases

A landlord in Winnipeg is looking at a year in the big house after he admitted to manipulating work invoices to justify a 38 per cent rent increase for tenants in his West End apartment building.

“The offences were motivated by greed," Crown attorney Peter Edgett told Judge Catherine Carlson at a sentencing hearing. "The accused is a successful business person... he appears to be in a good financial situation. There was absolutely no need to do this."

Horacio Tavares was sentenced to one year in jail for fraud, forgery and perjury after the court heard that he submitted inaccurate invoices to justify his application for a 38 per cent rent increase at his 17-unit Simcoe Street apartment block.

The landlord submitted invoices for $200,000 to the Residential Tenancy Branch in 2012, though he had spent just $110,000 in repairs and improvements to the building, according to court documents.

"His argument for making that application was that he had spent $200,000 in capital improvements to the building... and therefore should be allowed an increase above what was normal," Edgett said, adding that Tavares submitted seven invoices that were altered, among other documents.

Despite this, the RTB approved the increase and residents later filed official complaints which led to a hearing in March 2013. Tavares initially testified that the invoices were accurate, and only changed his story when testimony from several tenants clearly showed he was lying, Edgett said.

One tenant complained about a toilet that had to be replaced but instead of receiving a new one, Tavares replaced it with the same one. What’s more, another tenant said he used an extension cord to power a bathroom fan and took advantage of other tenants in the building he enlisted to help with renovations.

"He offered excuses that he was only trying to get his money back, that he changed the invoices to reflect market value, that he simply wanted to recoup the labour that he had put into the project," Edgett said.

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