Landlord sleeps on estate agent’s couch as he awaits hearing to evict troublesome tenants
A southwestern Ontario man said he slept on a couch in his realtor’s basement, hoping tenants would move out of his house ahead of a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing.
Kelvin Edmondson first rented his home in Tillsonburg in August last year before leaving to work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. While he was away, he said the tenants neglected to pay rent, including heating and electricity, and caused significant damage to his property by housing a number of pets against their original agreement.
Edmondson said the tenants refused to leave on the agreed moving date of July 31. While financial records provided by the tenant show some rent has been paid sporadically, Edmondson said he still owes about $13,000 and is on the verge of losing the house.
“My refinance is in place in October, and if I don’t fix this, the bank is going to take my house away from me,” Edmondson said. “And I will lose everything I own because of these people.”
Edmondson put his house up for sale in November and said tenants deterred potential buyers by preaching about the Ontario landlord and tenants as they walked through the house. He recently took time off from work to prepare the house for the visit. The tenants refused to let him in when he returned and he was only able to get in with the help of the police.
He found the property, which he had left in pristine condition, was in a state of disrepair, with the parquet flooring crumbling from animal urine. Although the tenants initially said they only had a small puppy, they brought in three large Rottweilers, three cats and four rabbits. A bed now sits on the ground floor, while the master bedroom has been converted into a makeshift kennel with at least five animal crates.
Outside the house, Edmondson discovered marijuana plants growing in the front yard. A flag with a marijuana leaf on the porch activates the outdoor motion sensor light throughout the day, driving up the electric bill. A metal sign threatening to use firearms pending intrusion was nailed to one of the beams.
In the back, another makeshift kennel was attached to the shed, now filled with bric-a-brac not belonging to Edmondson. He said the yard was filled with animal feces.
Edmondson’s credit rating has been affected by his missing mortgage payments and he is unable to accept a new job offer. He has been couch surfing since his return to Ontario. His real estate agent, Alisha Wheeldon, is the latest friend to have taken him in.
Edmondson and Wheeldon have been working to bring the case to the Landlord and Tenant Board since December. They filed two N4 notices of early termination of a lease for non-payment of rent. Edmondson was unable to disconnect utilities, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Landlord and Tenant Board.
They filed an L1 notice (application to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent and collection of monies owed) for eviction in February and have since been waiting in court for a trial date. After filing an escalation, a court date was set for August 29.
“But it’s a very long time for someone to wait while these people destroy their house and not pay,” Wheeldon said.
Thousands of backlog complaints
Edmondson’s story follows Ombudsman Paul Dubé’s announcement that his office is completing an investigation into delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board, including nearly 2,000 complaints about the court being late.
Dube said the backlog has created hardship for both tenants and landlords, exposing them to financial ruin. A report on the matter is in the final stage.
“What they’re being denied is access to justice in many cases,” Dube said at a news conference Aug. 10. “The system is bogged down. They’re not getting answers. They’re not getting hearings. They’re not getting answers in a lot of cases.”
Edmondson says his tenants agreed in writing to vacate the property on August 15 and verbally confirmed it twice. Ideally, they’ll stick with that deal and he can fix the house and then put it back on the market.
But if the tenants wait until the August 29 hearing, he will miss his bills for another month, leaving his future even more uncertain.
“If I lose my property and the bank takes over, the first thing the bank will do is evict these people. So why can’t I evict these people from my own home?” he said.
“Everyone understands my situation, but no one is willing to do anything because they can’t. They just seem to accept that tenants have every right. And that’s it. End of the story.”