Brendan Carr was in a panic to rent out his apartment.
He had bought the place in Mission a few years earlier but moved to a new residence to be closer to work. Due to the economic downturn at the time, he would have lost money if he had sold, so he’d been renting it out.
But now his first tenants, a nice couple who kept up the place, were moving out and he couldn’t afford to lose a month’s rent while paying for his own place.
When the single mom of two young children answered his online ad, he was quick to accept her story.
The woman said she had been living with a friend but quickly needed a place of her own. She said she couldn’t provide a reference because she had a conflict with her previous landlord and he had wrongfully withheld her damage deposit.
Brendan thought she seemed nice, and he wanted to help her out so he accepted her as his new tenant.
Within a few weeks, he began getting calls from the woman’s neighbours in the 40-unit building.
The tenant had been having friends over at all hours, and they made a lot of noise, as they hung out on the patio, smoking cigarettes and marijuana.
Brendan talked to the woman, who said she had a prescription for medical marijuana, and she agreed to keep the noise and smoking to a minimum.
The situation improved for a period, but picked up again – and worsened. Police were called a few times to deal with the noise complaints. On one occasion, there had been a fight, resulting in a hole being punched in the wall.
As the owner of the suite, Brendan was fined $50 by the building’s strata council. A subsequent fine would have been $250.
Police held a meeting with the building’s occupants to inform them about their options, including the “crime-free multi-level housing initiative” through which a landlord can have a criminal background check of potential tenants.
Finally, Brendan had enough “just cause” – including documentation from police and the strata council – to evict the woman.
He followed the correct steps in issuing the woman a 30-day eviction notice.
About a week later, Brendan gave the tenant 18 hours’ notice that he needed to inspect the apartment for any damages.
He was appalled at the condition of the suite. The carpets were filthy, and garbage was strewn about.
In the meantime, Brendan advertised for a new tenant, this time ensuring he didn’t rush the process. He settled on Richard, a retired older man who had lived in his own home for 20 years but was splitting up from his wife.
When he showed Richard the suite, he assured him that the carpets would be cleaned – or replaced entirely – before the move.
On the woman’s moving day, she loaded up a pickup truck with her items and said she would be back for the rest. She never returned.
The tenant left behind several items, including bags of garbage, a TV cabinet and a bicycle, and she had not done any cleaning.
Brendan discovered the worst of it when he opened the walk-in storage closet by the front door. Behind a crib was a pile of dirty diapers about a foot and a half deep.
Richard was due to move in the next day, but Brendan called him and said he would put him up in a hotel for another night so that the suite could be thoroughly cleaned.
Brendan hauled all the garbage to the dump, had the carpets professionally cleaned twice, and repainted the entire unit – at a cost higher than the woman’s $350 damage deposit had been.
Richard has now lived in the apartment for about four years, and Brendan said he is the best tenant anyone could hope for. Richard has even been over to Brendan’s home for a barbecue.
Brendan, who lives with his fiancée and two kids, said his experience with his former tenant has taught him a valuable lesson about being a landlord – that being out of pocket for a few weeks is better than facing the worst-case scenario.
“Always vet the people moving in. If they have a story that sounds even a little bit off, it’s probably worth following up on, or take a pass,” he said.
He feels lucky that the woman didn’t destroy the suite further once she was given an eviction notice.
However, although he believes that in some situations tenants have too many rights, he says “at the same time, the tenants need to be protected from bad landlords.”