Karen Loveys says landowners should vet their tenants. (File photo)

Cloverdale senior out $40,000 due to problem tenant

Real-estate agent says landowners should carefully vet their tenants

A South Surrey real-estate agent has a message for landowners after one of her clients, a 77-year-old widow, lost thousands of dollars due to a problem tenant.

“Landlords need to vet their tenants and people need to be updated on what the law actually is,” Karen Loveys told Peace Arch News.

Loveys, who didn’t want to name the landlord or tenant, said her client lost at least $40,000 when she tried to sell her Cloverdale townhouse.

“I had to hire security guards for the showing. I’m serious, more than $500 on security guards for the showing to protect people coming in from the crazy tenant,” Loveys said. “I’ll tell you, the address is well known to police.”

Loveys said aside from the tenant paying only $600 in rent over a five-month period, the person was likely responsible for removing trusses in the attic of the townhouse, causing about $20,000 in damage.

“They were stopped in the act – in my opinion – of probably trying to build a grow-op.”

While the house was on the market, Loveys and her client tried to evict the tenant with cause. Most prospective buyers, she said, wanted to use the property for an investment.

According to provincial legislation, if a home buyer intends to buy and renovate a tenanted home, they can end the tenancy with a four-months’ notice after the title of the property has been transferred and all required permits are in place for the renovation.

“It was very tricky. We had a multitude of offers, none of which we could accept because some buyers wanted to take possession of the property, fix it up and flip it. But these buyers can’t buy (tenanted) properties.”

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Loveys said they had a hearing with the Residential Tenancy Branch and asked for an eviction due to the trusses being removed from the attic by the tenant, but the RTB reportedly said there’s no proof that it was the tenant who caused the damage.

Loveys said they also tried to evict the tenant for non-payment of rent, but were unable to go through the process in a timely manner.

According to the province, a landlord may start the process of removing a tenant by issuing a 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent. The landlord must give the tenant five calendar days after receiving the notice to pay the rent. If the rent is paid in full, the notice is cancelled.

However, if the tenant applies for RTB dispute resolution, the 10-day notice is put on hold until an RTB hearing, where a final and binding decision is made.

Although legislation may make it seem like it’s a swift process to remove a tenant for not paying rent, Loveys indicated that it can be a time-consuming event.

“I do not want the newspapers to say that it’s not a speedy (process), but it’s not speedy,” she said.

Loveys said a tenant can stretch out the RTB process to a matter of months, all while the landlord isn’t receiving rent payments.

After the RTB makes a decision to evict, Loveys said the landlord then must go to the Supreme Court for the eviction, then hire a bailiff.

“I’ll tell you, some of the landlords here in B.C. are getting tough. They’re just saying we’re not even going to pay attention to the RTB anymore, we’re just going to go in, pick up their stuff and throw it out. That’s against the law,” Loveys said. “I’ll tell you, it’s a battle zone out there.”

According to provincial legislation, a landlord can end tenancy, with two-months’ notice, if a buyer submits a written request that they intend to live in the property.

Loveys said she sold the property to someone who intended to make it their primary residence.

“We also won… a hearing where (the tenant) must pay rent for November and December, and she never paid it.”

Loveys, a landlord herself, says her client is “highly embarrassed” by the situation, and offered some tips for current, or new landlords entering the market.

When renting out a property, Loveys said her online advertisements may receive up to 60 responses. Of that, she may speak to 12 on the phone and narrow that list down to four who will receive an application.

“The tenants that are the really bad tenants out there – who don’t pay their rent, who treat the property terrible, who disrespect everyone around them, disrespect the landlord, disrespect the neighbours – those types of people won’t go through my vetting process.”

Loveys also says she doesn’t rent property month-to-month, instead requiring tenants to sign a new lease every year.

“They need to read the legislation word-for-word. In my opinion – I speak to realtors all across Canada … and when I speak to them about this particular topic of landlords and tenant situations – B.C. has the strongest legislation in benefit of the tenant.”

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