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.
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