Landlords need protection from confiscation rules

Landlords could be in for a rough ride if they don’t regulate who they allow as tenants as a recent case where a landlord lost her 12-unit building is highlighting concerns about the confiscation of property.

For Brandon Sage, a real estate investment consultant with the Landlord Property & Rental Management Inc., has learned this firsthand when he was managing a Toronto-area building.

“I started my career deeply involved in the management of a 401 & Weston high-rise that was replete with problems and it was there I learned first-hand what effective property management could do to improve living conditions,” Sage told CREW.

“My team turned that building around but had to do so while daily running-up against regulations and a Board which applies them which almost always sided with the tenants causing the problems.”

His remarks highlight a troublesome period over the last decade where landlords have been under an increasing amount of pressure to regulate and weed out bad tenants while suffering the consequences for not doing so, much like Marlowe and Patricia Van Dusen of Chatham, Ont.

The duo bought a 12-unit residential apartment in 1995 and four of the 12 units has bad tenants who were dealing drugs, trafficking stolen goods, 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.

“Why did the province expect Van Dusen, at his own time and expense, to take eviction proceedings against the very individuals that the police themselves, with the courts and the laws and vast resources at their disposal, couldn’t manage to convict?” Karen Selick, litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation, said in the National Post article.

“The judge allowed the province to confiscate the building — worth about $400,000 and mortgage-free. The Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed the decision, and the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal further… The building was sold a few weeks ago, and the money will go into the pot of forfeited funds that the attorney general’s office keeps under the Civil Remedies Act.”

Sage called the move ‘unfair’ while point to an interesting ironic fact.

“As with most things in life there are a lot of shades of grey, but I must admit the irony of it all is that of the government confiscating the building when in my experience it is government-owned residences which rank among the worst places for criminal activity.”

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