It’s a common problem throughout the country: professional tenants who abuse the court system to stall evictions, living rent-free.
In the worst cases, these tenants jump to the next rental property and repeat the pattern, racking up a half dozen or so landlord victims before they are exposed.
Such was the case of a tenant from Regina who now has managed to live for two and a half years without paying rent.
CBC News covered the story back in September. Since then, the tenant allegedly scammed another landlord. The strategy is simple: use the appeals process to delay, and then when time is running out, move into a new rental property.
No doubt landlords need to be careful to avoid these experienced tenants who know what to say to coax a landlord into handing over the keys before running a tenant background check, checking with the previous landlord, or getting paid.
The Saskatchewan Landlord Association says more than vigilance is required to stop this abuse. It is using this case to push for legislative changes that would make it more difficult for tenants to wage frivolous appeals.
It’s a call that has not gone unheeded by lawmakers, who prepared a bill that would have increased the cost of bringing multiple appeals in order to reduce the number of tenant claims filed.
Unfortunately, a key provision of the proposed law — one that would have required tenants to ante up one-half of one month’s rent if they wanted to appeal — was cut.
Frivolous appeals slow down the court process. In that sense, everyone suffers. Yet, a provision that significantly increases the filing fees for tenants is not without controversy, primarily due to the negative impact it could have on low-income renters who may be boxed out of pursuing legitimate cases.
Still, landlords and lawmakers have not given up on closing loopholes. New proposals that overcome this objection are in the works. In the meantime, the association is spreading the word about this particular tenant. Unfortunately, that may only help local landlords. Professional tenants are free to travel to another province and start the process over.
It’s impossible to know if your rental applicants have burned bridges with other landlords unless you run a tenant background check on your applicant.
Although the fight isn’t over, the Saskatchewan Landlord Association did make significant inroads into thwarting potential abuses of the eviction system. In doing so, the association proved that, for landlords, there is power in numbers. Rental property owners and property managers throughout Canada who participate in local landlord associations are in the best position to protect their interests.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.