Landlord Property Damage And Getting Police Involved
This blog is about dealing with property damage and theft caused by tenants and recovering that using existing laws and police services.
I’m relating this to you from personal experience helping a friend recently who ran into serious legal issues and damage to his property caused by a tenant. The information below is not intended to be legal advice but to provide steps you can take to protect yourself.
Last year in 2022, I posted a series of blogs on being a landlord including “7 Tips for Landlords” huge hits as landlords contacted me on their tenant issues which relates knowledge I gained myself as a landlord since 1998. Being a landlord can be financially rewarding but has easily avoidable pitfalls.
DEALING WITH THE DAMAGE
My friend lives in BC and signed up a tenant who over three years destroyed the property by damaging floors, walls, cabinets and fixtures and stole all the appliances totalling over $25,000 to repair.
My friend admits he made mistakes and broke Rule #7 – “…do regular inspections…” impossible from 600km away – an important lesson about being close by.
My friend sent the tenant a legal notice that the lease would not be renewed to allow him to sell the property.
The tenant failed to pay the last month rent and received a notice to evict within the required 16 days by law.
ABANDONMENT OF PROPERTY
My friend came to Calgary prior to the end of lease to inspect and arrange the sale and discovered the property was abandoned, unsecured and filled with garbage and damage throughout including missing appliances.
Under the Landlord act, abandonment is defined as the tenant not living there evidenced by obvious signs indicating this.
Further under the act, after abandonment, the landlord is entitled to remove and dispose tenant belongings remaining if the premises is considered toxic due to unsanitary conditions (it was) and any items deemed valued at less than $2,000.
GETTING THE POLICE INVOLVED
I advised my friend to contact Calgary Police Services and he was told by a junior officer on desk duty that he would need to deal with the Calgary Tenant Review Board first – a useless bureaucratic department designed to protect tenants not landlords – important lesson here to not accept the first answer from any authority as often the individual will lack knowledge and/or experience to deal with the issue properly – get a second or third opinion until you’re satisfied.
Instead, my friend then went personally to a local police station and fortunately met up with an intelligent female officer who informed him that vandalism and theft are criminal acts the tenant should definitely be charged. Luckily my friend had obtained a copy of the tenant’s driver licence which helped immensely and a warrant was put out for the tenant’s arrest who could end up in jail. Civil court would be the next step to collect damages.
What landlords have to realize is that vandalism and theft are criminal acts and you have every right to involve the police to lay proper charges.
My friend admits he was an amateur landlord and made many mistakes renting out his property and was not really cut out for this.
Follow my 7 Tips for Landlords – these are tried and true and honed by of landlords everywhere with one property or thousands.
Landlords are protected by the law and contacting the police is imperative when vandalism and/or theft occur during any period in the lease – don’t wait till move-out day.
Once charges are laid, civil court follows – it’s not expensive and not hard and you can win and get damages – including back rent.
Make sure you get a copy of driver licence and social insurance number, employer info, bank, etc., as much information as possible when signing them up for the lease.
If you live more than 100km from the rental property, think twice unless you have someone you love and trust dearly to look in on it without fail – distance should not deter you from performing inspections.
Evict the moment you see problems arise – no exceptions – you are not the tenant’s friend but a business relationship with responsibilities to be held up both ways.
Good luck and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on landlord issues on my cell 403-560-0810 – I’d be happy to help.
Some things we take for granted and where our garbage goes is one of these.
Calgary separates household garbage into black, blue and green plus under the sink for organics.
What about the other stuff we collect in our garages, basements and backyards? Most go to one of two city landfills and a few private operators in town. Anytime Bins serves that type of customer and renovation companies.
The City of Calgary has a wonderful garbage collection system. Black is non-organic, non-recyclable, non-yard waste and goes to landfill. Blue is anything that may recyclable such as paper, plastic, metal and other – unfortunately 80% of blue bins still ends up in landfills. Green is yard waste and undersink and is turned into mulch and soil. The City does a great job and is very efficient.
Calgary has two large landfills hundreds of acres in size on 17th Ave and Nose Hill for general waste. This is where black bins go.
Blue bins go to the recycling depot on 17th Ave SE where everything is sorted by type of material. Paper and cardboard gets baled and sold on the market. Plastic and glass are processed for sale as well. Technology is not there yet to do 100% recycling unfortunately and only about 20% of the blue bin gets recycled – the rest goes to landfill.
Green and undersink goes to a mulching plant where it is processed into soil and mulch.
At landfills, City garbage trucks and private companies like Anytime Bins tip our bins which is then plowed under with soil by bulldozers which also pack everything down. Over time, landfills eventually outgrow their location and after special piping is installed to vent gases, and many in other jurisdictions have become ski hills.
We’re proud to have grown to 60 bins and serve Calgary and surrounding areas usually on next day basis. Our motto is “Let go of your junk” so if you have stuff to get rid of, give us a call. See us on Global TV news hours am/pm with our Super Keeley.
Estate Clean-Outs: How to Navigate the Process with Ease
We recognize that estate clean-outs may be an emotional and difficult time in a home once occupied by loved ones. We handle many estate clean-outs with our junk removal service and have prepared this to help you in the process.
Estate clean-outs are generally to prepare the home for sale and is usually spelt out in the will as to how property is to be disposed of and to whom.
Estates with a will usually have an executor who is responsible to take charge of the estate process and may assign others to help. Estate clean-outs may involve selling certain items in an “estate sale”. There may be items named in the will to certain individuals who are entitled to receive these. Other items may be of personal value and may be claimed on site subject to the executor’s final word. The rest can be given away or disposed of.
Estates without a will fall under provincial “Dying Intestate” rules and requires a special process usually through a lawyer and these may take much longer to settle.
Here are some Estate Cleanout tips to make this process easier.
Allow at least a couple of weeks for the clean-out and plan it out carefully.
Arrange a one-day only estate sale should there be a need for one.
Do a complete walk-thru of the home including checking the attic, garage, shed and stuff lying around the property.
Establish who will be involved in the actual cleanout and set out the rules and procedures.
Label items for sale and items going to certain individuals.
Bag smaller items from cupboards, drawers, shelves, closets, boxes and containers for disposal as needed.
Separate “hazardous” materials in a designated area for things like gasoline, oil, propane, paint, etc., for disposal to a special landfill as required by the city.
Bag and label organics for special disposal.
Arrange for “Junk Removal” by Anytime Bin Rentals, we are specialists in this area and provide a two-man crew to remove everything for disposal including heavy items such as appliances and furniture, hazardous materials and organics and all your items big or small.
I recently spoke to a customer who rented an Anytime Bin on a mission to declutter her home getting rid of baby clothes, toys and birthday cards and more (her kids were now young adults). I asked her about the sentimental value and she said very little was actually sentimental and those that were would fit into a really small box.
Estate sales are “too-late decluttering” burdens placed on grown children who see little value in the stuff their parents kept in dozens of old moldy boxes all over the house and toss all of it into an Anytime Bin.
Baby clothes and toys represent an important part of our lives so we keep these as mementos. That old shirt or pair of shoes we hang onto. Those old tools and junk in our garage.
My wife has a good rule. For everything she buys, she throws the old one out. New clothes? New gadget? Old ones go.
Some things are worth keeping. A small pebble your child picked up on a picnic on a beautiful, memorable afternoon with your family. Every time you look at that little pebble now, evokes happy memories that bring joy to your heart. Silly little stuff connects us with our past. But, like art, the value of anything is in its scarcity. Most day-to-day things like old clothes clutter our lives and add no value.
The less we keep, those special little things focus our emotions into specific times and events and people that help make our lives meaningful. Decluttering helps us discover those things that matter and those that don’t.
Keep us in mind when you get into that decluttering mood and we’d be happy to provide you with our economical top-notch bin rental service. For bigger jobs we have Junk Removal with crew – in less than 4 hours your life will be better.
Despite your best efforts and following all 7 Tips you get a tenant from HELL.
It happens. A landlord customer of ours last year had tenants that had one unfortunate “life issue” after another one after the other and, BOOM, unfortunately, the landlord’s property was turned upside down – damage was extensive – $8,000 cleanup cost and $50,000+ repairs – new floors, new paint, all new bathrooms, new landscaping backyard that resembled a desert landscape – you had to see it to believe it.
Was it avoidable? Absolutely. See Tip 7. Inspections.
Things happen but you are either in control of your property’s destiny or you’re not. Being a Landlord is not a passive job but neither is it that difficult. An hour or two a month to drop by to “change the filter” (have it with you and know what you’re doing). How do things look. Clean? Tidy? Good housekeeping? Is it getting better or worse? How does the human dynamic feel inside the home?
You have just a few minutes to assess that your home is safe or ready to explode. If you have any concern, turn up the visits to one per week – drive by and see what’s happening outside. Have that filter ready for that once a month check.
If your spidey senses start flashing – listen. And act. Know your landlord rights and take positive legal action to evict. That can take months but you can save $10s of $1000s in the long run.
Remember, things can change overnight at your property. Divorce. Job loss. Drugs. All can spell disaster. Great tenants can go ROGUE in one day – then downhill from that point on.
You need to be on top of this and act – not hide your head in the sand figuring out what to do.
Bad tenants need to be evicted immediately. Yesterday. Be prepared for the legal measures – court order to evict – bailiff to change the locks.
Every day you delay, your property goes down and the results can be shocking. We’ve seen it. And it is avoidable.
In our Anytime Bin business, we see a lot of “Runaway Properties” often seriously enough damaged by tenants costing $5,000 to clean up and ten to fifty thousand dollars to repair. All hope can be lost to recoup your investment. If your property is mortgaged – most are – you may not be able to refinance to repair. Your investment is now a serious liability.
This cannot happen unless you’re an absentee landlord. Failing to inspect your property regularly can be expensive and disastrous.
If you followed my 7 TIPS you probably got good tenants but things can still go wrong – divorce, job loss, etc. can change your tenant’s ability and/or desire to meet their responsibilities in maintaining your property.
Lawns stop being cut. Garbage and junk builds up outside. Seeing this on regular drive-bys allows you to take corrective action. Arrange a filter inspect for next day and assess the inside. You’ll quickly see poor housekeeping and general decline and above normal wear and tear, such as piled up dirty unwashed dishes, strange smells, pet hair all over, carpet stains, visible damage and general neglect and disarray – all signs of early stages of a runaway property.
Damage control needs to start immediately. Decide whether you need to evict. Be aware that simple warnings to clean up their act will not work. This is how they live. This is their comfort zone. They will not change and suddenly become good housekeepers. Don’t hold out false hope and cut to the chase and evict.
Here are some suggestions.
Let them know you are thinking of selling and will have to give them 60 days notice.
List the house – some landlord rules allow evictions for this purpose.
Tell them you’re moving back in yourself and will have to give them notice.
Consult a real estate lawyer.
Runaway properties are almost always the result of being an absentee landlord. Avoid this by regular inspections. Your tenant has no financial stake in your property. Take corrective action immediately as needed and stop a runaway property in its tracks.
Even landlords with only one rental should view this investment as a business. Take it seriously, have a process in place for accounting and don’t get too emotionally attached. Be tough on screening and remember you’re doing this to make money.
#2: Market the property online.
List your property online – Rentfaster works for me.
#3: Set the right rent price.
Run a rent comparison report and list your property $100.00 under market value for similar properties. This will ensure your tenants will not keep rental shopping – good long-term tenants are your best friend.
#4: Always screen tenants.
I covered this in my 7 Tips and is very important. Always screen your prospective tenants that will help you choose a qualified tenant and will protect you from facing costly property damage.
#5: Create a city-specific lease.
Make sure your rental agreement is applicable for Calgary and Alberta legislation – copying one from BC or Ontario, can nullify important contract terms and conditions.
#6: Always fill out a condition report.
When a new tenant moves-in, schedule a walkthrough and fill out a condition report and have them sign it. When they move out, fill out the move-out condition report and compare. Anything above normal wear and tear, repair costs may be deductible from their damage deposit – that includes cleaning costs.
#7: Always get things in writing (aka document everything).
The more documentation you have as a landlord, the better. Provide relevant copies to your tenant and your copy in your property file and/or computer.
#8: Don’t collect rent in person.
Arrange for payment by etransfers only due on the 1st of each month and have direct deposit eliminating security questions and delays. Cheques can take a week to process and extra weeks dealing with NSFs and possible terminations.
How does a landlord deal with stuff left by tenants
Most tenants leave something behind they forgot or didn’t bother packing. Stuff can by anything from clothes to food in the fridge to furniture and even vehicles and bicycles to outright disasters with a real mess to deal with – we’ve seen everything (Please refer to my “7 Tips for Landlords” for general information on leasing to new tenants – if you follow that, you’ll have 100% success with your tenants).
There are 4 basic scenarios landlords deal with when tenants leave.
Their lease ran out and they gave you notice and were good responsible tenants who cleaned up and get there deposit back in full – rare.
Same as above but did not clean up and maybe even caused damage to your property during their term – your costs are deducted from their deposit.
They defaulted in their rent, you kicked them out, they left peacefully – #1 or 2 may apply on junk left behind and/or damage.
They did the midnight run – usually #2 will apply and you’re left with a costly cleanup and repairs.
#1 You may only need to do some normal touchups here and there and some wear and tear repairs/replacements – ie: carpet, new paint.
#2 This is where your last month deposit kicks in and hopefully covers the cleanup and/or repairs. You’ll need to go through with your original move-in list with your tenant and note any changes such as damage (not normal wear and tear). There should be a clause that any personal property remaining after official move-out day they forfeit and you dispose – get their signature on this clause. They are responsible for all costs deductible from their deposit – provide receipts for costs and your time and hours – anything over the deposit you cannot recover without civil court.
#3 See #2.
#4 The worst – see #2. They have abandoned and you may be faced with extensive cleanup costing several $1000s in junk removal costs not including your labour. Repairs are on top and often is in the $10,000s.
If you followed my “7 Tips…” you should have #1 tenants and your investment will pay off with long-term responsible tenants and minimal move-out costs.
Dealing with the stuff – just call us at Anytime Bins – we’ll send a crew and bins (see our Junk Removal page) and we’ll get your property cleaned up in 4 to 8 hours in most cases.
7 Tips For Landlords And Choosing Your Tenants To Avoid Disaster
We get a lot of calls from landlords who need to clean up their property because of tenants who left a mess, hoarded or physical damage and I thought it might be worth doing 7 Tips for Landlords from my own personal successful tenant management program. This will avoid common mistakes landlords make choosing tenants and eliminate the expensive cleaning up and repairing from nightmare tenants that could have been avoided.
Price it 10% below market rent – avoids tenants doing value shopping and moving out all the time.
Applications – use a professional tenant application form and MUST get:
Official letter from employer on company letterhead, signed and dated stating good standing and number of years employed – less than 2 years ask for previous employer.
Bank letter stating good standing.
Permission to do a credit check – then do it.
Name of present landlord with address, phone number – then call to find out what your prospect was like.
Red Flags that warrant rejecting the application:
Unwilling to provide requested information.
Telling you they will move in NOW with cash.
Sorting through applications:
Choose the 3 best applicants
Arrange to visit them at their current home to see their housekeeping standards. If they refuse, reject their application.
When you arrive ask to see their driver licence to verify this is their actual current home – for couples, both should provide driver licence with same address – if they refuse, reject them and leave.
They may charm you, but this is business – get past that and be rational – use your Spidey senses – do you want them as tenants.
Signing the lease.
Make sure you use a professional lease.
Collecting rent – make sure your prospect understands the following and which should be in the lease:
Etransfer by the 1st – not a minute later.
Day 2 file an eviction notice – this is an important legal step.
Know the landlord tenant act inside out.
Inspect weekly during the 1st month even just a drive-by – are they behaving or signs of property abuse starting.
After one month do monthly furnace filter checks (and inspections) – Are they living like decent human beings or are they slowly turning your home into a landfill site inside and out.
After 6 months you will know they are good tenants or not.
Your property is an investment that can be destroyed less than a year and cost you $10,000 or more to cleanup and repair.
Remember, being a landlord is a business – keep your tenant relations professional and don’t get “emotionalled” when you have to turf them out.