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'It was hell': He had Burnaby’s worst tenant. She nearly destroyed him

A former landlord responds to tenant criticisms
(iStock photo)

RD isn’t currently a landlord but he used to be.

And he isn’t anxious about becoming one again after what he went through with what he’s describing as Burnaby’s worst tenant – a renter who milked him to the point of destruction.

RD wrote in after reading my recent series of columns of rental horror stories. RD thinks there should be more about bad tenants written by the media.

“The disrespectful landlord in the previous story should know he can’t ridiculously evict someone in two days or anytime he wants just because it is his house,” wrote RD. “Someone should educate him about the Residential Tenancy Act, which offers some protection for renters already … Being a landlord is much more than just waiting for the rent to flow into your account every month as I thought.”

That’s when RD shared his story of the bad tenant, saying "it was hell."

“The tenant was a 60+ nurse who I will call by AC. She asked to delay, split rent payments right after moving in. I saw that as a red flag but felt sorry for her and tried to accommodate. I also recommended she should find another place within her budget. At one point, she even asked to borrow $5,000 for legal fee on a large inheritance by which she can use to pay all of the outstanding rent. Of course, I said no. After more than a year of stories, promises, excuses, I was ready to evict her because the rent owing was piling up. Then the Covid-19 came with the eviction ban. AC said she was not qualified for the BC’s Covid rent relief program and was told to apply for the rental assistance program which only gave her about $350/ month due to her last year’s income. I started 2021 with her owing rent of nearly $12,000. Yes, we are not talking about a couple thousand and I’m just a single-income earner with a regular office job taking care of my elderly mother.”

And so, at one point RD gave AC notice because he decided to move back into the home.

“Meanwhile, I dug into my life savings and family loan to fulfill my duty paying my landlord, property tax, mortgage on time without asking for pardon. I learned about how much time it could take the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to evict someone. If she didn’t want to leave, I would have to go through a lot (schedule hearing, get the order of possession, serve the notice, hire a bailiff to enforce) when I already arranged moving out with my landlord. I called RTB and was told the wait time for a hearing would be about 2 months which also means she can continue living comfortably in my house whereas I will become homeless. I lived in tremendous stress and anxiety until the very last days when I knew for sure she was wrapping up to leave.”

AC did then move out, but that wasn’t the end of it.

“We spent 5 days cleaning and fixing up the place that we did not charge her. She raised pets when the contract said no pet. I agreed on a payment plan for her to repay everything in 20 months. All I got was $300 so far and she just stopped responding. I also had to pay her last hydro bill because the city will only go after me as the property owner, which is also unfair. I applied for a Monetary Order with RTB on Sep 29 and was appalled when looking at the scheduled hearing date: April 26, 2022! A promissory note signed by both parties was not enough to have a collection agency take care of this headache for me. Last week, after moving out for 4.5 months, she texted me, not to talk about her debt, but said she wanted to pick up the rugs she left behind. When we did a walkthrough together, I asked her about every single item she didn’t take with her, although it is a tenant’s responsibility to empty the place. I couldn’t believe she can come back with such a shameless request. If I hadn’t donated them all to a thrift store, I would still have let her take them.”

Wait, she bolted without paying and wanted her rugs back? All this has left RD regretting becoming a landlord.

“If I ever become a landlord again, I have no choice to be a cynical one because being nice has done more harm than good to me … Not all landlords are crazy rich, greedy and unreasonable. They have a family to feed and are also humans that deserve some protection. I don’t know if/ when I will get my money back but for soon-to-be landlords, watch out for people who are meant to be your tenants to drag your life into hell.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.