Trip to the dump costs landlords $24,000

A case heard before the Landlord Tenant Board last week has found in favour of two tenants, ordering the landlords to pay nearly $24,000.

The ruling stated that Peter and Julie McDonald went afoul of the Tenant Act in six different ways and ordered them to reimburse their tenants, Trevor McLean and Sandy Schoenherr.

“Investors who plan to manage their properties themselves must ensure they know the rules,” warned John Dickie, an Ottawa-based lawyer who specializes in residential landlord and tenant law. “It is important to keep the lines of communication open.”

A few months ago, the McDonalds notified their tenants that they were selling their house in Barrhaven, a suburb of Ottawa, and that they would have to move out by May 1 – a legitimate request by the landlords, according to Dickie.

In mid-April, the tenants had moved out most of their large furniture and returned to find the rest of their personal things, including a wedding dress and flower arrangements for their June wedding, had been cleared out by the landlords and taken to a nearby landfill.

The couple went to the dump to salvage their belongings, but soon found out their story would not have a happy ending.

“There was 2,000 lbs of garbage dumped on top of it,” McLean told The Ottawa Sun. “We had a wedding dress and fake flower arrangements … $6,000 worth of stuff for the wedding.”

The landlords argued in the LTB hearing that the couple had abandoned the home, damaged the property and had not paid their rent in full for the previous three months.

Indeed, though Dickie did not hear the evidence in the case, he believes it is likely that the landlords cleared out what they thought was garbage from the house in mid-April because they believed, due to the fact that they received only half the month’s rent, that the tenants were vacating two weeks early.

“They had not paid $500 in rent, so it’s likely there was a misunderstanding in that the landlord thought they were moving out mid-month,” he said.

But the adjudicator in the case ruled in favour of the tenants, though the missing rent was factored into the total amount of $23,829.

The landlords were given 24 hours to pay the sum in full, after which interest on the amount owing will be calculated at two per cent annually.

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