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What to do with a tenant from hell?

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I will tell you a story. Might as well warn you, this is a story that involves an illegal act. You will judge if the gesture was justified.

It’s the story of a couple who have a duplex.

The upstairs tenant is a woman who hasn’t had it easy in life. It was the man of the couple who agreed to rent the accommodation to the woman…

The owner did not do the usual checks, I emphasize that. No verification of credit file, references, decisions of the Régie du logement.

He went there on a whim, motivated by a sincere desire to help a woman who admitted to having had difficulties in life, cursed drink, cursed drugs…

So he rented the apartment to her.

And at first, everything went very well. The owner did not regret having chosen to help this woman, to have rented the apartment to her.

If the landlord had made checks at the Régie du logement, he would have found that the woman was a subscriber of convictions for non-payment of rent.

He would have discovered, too, that the woman knew all the tricks of the Régie du logement to make the eviction procedures continue, for example by failing to appear at the hearings of the Régie…

He would have discovered that a judge had already written that the woman was “still” absent during a hearing, had no defense to offer by resorting to the Régie and that all the actions of the defendant were in fact a “delaying” strategy, a thousand leagues from good faith.

Dilaquoi? Dilatory, an adjective that is defined by the Larousse as follows: “Which aims to save time, to delay something by its vague or ambiguous character. »

In short, this woman had done repeatedly for years what a handful of tenants do in Quebec: not pay her rent and put down roots as long as possible by multiplying the delaying measures at the Régie.

You end up getting kicked out, but it takes months.

Months during which you live for free with the owner, who has little chance of recovering his due.

Last November, The Journal of Quebec explored this phenomenon. The Tribunal administratif du logement – ​​the former Régie du logement – ​​blames the landlords: do your research before renting, they are told.

I come back to the couple of owners I am talking about. The man had therefore not done his research. If he had made a credit check, if he had delved into the archives of the Régie du logement, maybe he would have passed his turn… Or not.

But hey, at first, I repeat, it went well. Rent paid, no behavioral issues.

Then, the tenant started not paying her rent, according to the same pattern than that found by Régie judges in the past…

With, as a bonus, repeated incivility, noisy drinking, people who disembark and leave at any time of the day and night. The police who arrive, sometimes. Damn alcohol, damn drugs…

I remember that all of this was happening above the heads of the couple… and their children. In short, it’s as if it happened at home, all this mess.

And when they tried to parley with the lady, well, they now got kicked out, the landlady tells me. No way to argue with her.

I look at the criminal record of the lady in question, and it doesn’t take much of the imagination to figure out that she’s a person with serious behavioral and substance abuse problems.

As for the owners, they were going crazy. Ruined sleep, pulverized peace of mind, dark thoughts: hell. The woman summarizes: “I called my psychiatrist, he increased my dose of antidepressants. »

The couple went through the Administrative Housing Tribunal (the Régie no longer exists since August 2020) to have their tenant evicted. She challenged and…

She did not show up for the hearing.

Dilatory acts, again.

It went on for months like that. Couldn’t put her out. She’s home, legally. No way out of the crisis in sight in this noisy hell.

Yeah, the landlords were going to get her kicked out eventually, but…

When ?

The owner, meanwhile, has become a specialist in the laws governing landlord-tenant relations. She dove into the decisions of the Administrative Housing Tribunal, the fine detail of the laws and procedures and…

And she found what looked like a way out.

Evicting a tenant for non-payment or bad behavior is a cross. It takes months. It forces the owner to incur expenses of all kinds, like a bailiff. What they had done.

But if a tenant signs a form saying they decide not to renew their lease, but stay in the unit past the date they promised to leave…

Here it goes fast. It goes very fast. The procedure is express. The tenant is deemed to be an occupant without rights. And it’s over in less than a month.

Well…

This is where the illegal act that I mentioned at the beginning of this column comes in: the tenant never signed the notice of non-renewal of the lease.

It was her landlady who did it for her, imitating her tenant’s signature on the non-renewal of the lease form.

I quote the owner: “The last time I forged a signature was my mother’s on a bad exam in high school, like. Suffice to say that I am far from the professional forger…”

The maneuver worked. The tenant did try to contest, without success… It must be said that once again, she did not appear at the hearing of the Administrative Housing Tribunal, which she had herself requested to avoid her eviction. .

And the tenant from hell was evicted within weeks.

She left all her belongings behind, unclaimed. Repairing the apartment she had left in a pitiful state cost $16,000 in materials (the boyfriendskilled with a hammer, did the work himself).

The landlady reached out to tell me her story after hearing a segment about the landlord-tenant relationship on my radio show.

Listening to you, I feel the need to confess a crime. I was baptized Catholic, but I no longer practice. Allow me to confess to you rather than to a priest…

The owner of the duplex

And she told me the story that I just told you.

As a priest, I make no judgement. This column is not so much a column about bad landlords or bad tenants. I see it more as a chronicle of the end which, for some people, justifies the means.

Stop breaking the law.

Illegality, in response to immorality. I know, it’s a minefield, full of mist.

Hence my question, on this Sunday morning, dear reader: should this landlady go to hell?

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