Are landlords liable in police busts at their properties?

Every investor will have a troublemaker tenant at one time or another, but who’s responsible when your tenant is the target of a police bust that results in damages to your property?

The question has been answered in a Quebec Court ruling in a case that involved a presumed drug trafficking tenant, a pre-dawn raid and four damaged doors.

It kicked off in Longueuil, QC in 2012. Landlord Victor Martac’s apartment building was the subject of police intervention due to one of his tenants’ recreational activities, resulting in damaged property.

Police argued the intervention was justified and that the damage was the landlord’s problem, but Quebec Court Judge Claude Laporte disagreed, ordering the municipality to pay the landlord $1,300 in damages.

Judge Laporte said the municipality, in its defense, did not clearly establish the need for forced entry to execute its warrant. “In theory, there will always be a risk that the person sought is armed, will try to destroy evidence or take hostages,” he said, but “this would have the ultimate effect of justifying use of forced entry in every case.”

Longueuil police failed to make the case for the action they took and it’s not up to the landlord to bear the cost of that choice, the Judge added.

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