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This article was published 15/3/2019 (248 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After a seven-month ordeal, a local landlord wants to bring attention to the difficulties of dealing with tenants behaving badly.
Jason Roblin, CEO of Brandon’s largest rental and property management group, Vionell Holdings Partnership, has never encountered tenants like a group occupying two rental units he faced recently.
After taking over the management of the properties in August 2018, it took until this month to have them legally removed from the area.
"As soon as we went there, we knew there were problems," Roblin said. "I was disturbed."
While giving a tour of one of the apartments in question, Roblin pointed out the lasting legacy of the former renters.
Pushing open the door of a unit, the damage is immediately apparent and one is struck with the lingering smell of stale cigarette smoke. The apartments are non-smoking.
The furnishings have been removed from the area, leaving the grime, garbage, unknown substances and needle packages that litter the floor.
Large red graffiti reading "Notorious Bloods" stands out on one of the walls.
Most alarming, one of the rooms appears to have unauthorized locks on the outside of a door enabling someone to secure it from the outside.
"If you show up to a showing and there’s needle caps in the hallway, it's hard to convince (potential renters) that this is going to be their new, exciting home," Roblin said.
During a walkthrough of the residences in September, several needles were found and it was determined that long-term repairs would be required.
In the months leading up to the tenants’ eviction in March, they failed to pay their full monthly rent for several months running.
An eviction notice was served in November and multiple hearings were held, but the tenants remained in place.
In the end, this marked the first time Roblin has required the aid of sheriffs to remove someone from a property, having received an order for their removal from the Court of Queen’s Bench.
At the end of February, members of Vionell and sheriffs went to a unit to remove one of the tenants, only to discover drugs and stolen property. The tenant broke into the unit later that night, and continued breaking in multiple times.
One of the doors in the area is now sealed shut with screws to ensure this does not happen again.
Roblin thinks that the tenants in question manipulated their rights as dictated by the act, purposely missing hearings to buy more time in the apartments.
At the end of the ordeal, Vionell was left holding the bag for $7,237 in owed money.
Unclear what the final tally for the damage will be, Roblin said, the apartments will need new carpets, deep cleans and new appliances potentially adding at least another $8,000, on top of the unpaid rent.
Roblin never envisioned encountering a situation like this, and while the tenants have been removed, he still worries they will once again appear at the residence, as they have a number of times already.
"It’s very frustrating," Roblin said. "This is not normal. This is not an everyday occurrence."
As a result of these tenants, changes have been made to Vionell safety protocols, now requiring employes have sharps containers in company vehicles and wear gloves. A private security firm has been hired to patrol the area.
"Hopefully, we can turn the corner and have it safe like our other places," Roblin said.
He hopes that the experience of Vionell will serve to educate people on the effects of people who make these life choices, motivating the community to create positive solutions.
"If we don’t change this, this is going to get worse," Roblin said.
Already screening tenants for income and rental history, he plans on taking all necessary action to be proactive and responsible in an effort to prevent situations like this from rising again.
Cautioning against increasingly scrutinized screenings while acknowledging the need for landlords to mitigate their risks, Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation Executive Director Carly Gasparini said anecdotally that cases of this nature are rare. The corporation is a non-profit organization focused on reinvigorating neighbourhoods in the core of the city while improving residents’ quality of life.
"There is a risk to be a landlord for sure," Gasparini said. "But tenants have rights, and I think there has to be a balance between these things."
Cases like this are an anomaly, creating a nightmare for all sides when navigating tenants rights, creating terrible situations that have the potential to bankrupt and place great stress on property owners.
"I don’t want that for landlords," Gasparini said. "There are some hard-to-house (tenants), but that is against the norm."
Cases like this make it increasingly difficult to get landlords to rent "hard-to-house" individuals, and the community plays an essential role in helping protect and support all landlords and renters.
"Sometimes things aren’t going to work out beautifully and sometimes they really do," Gasparini said. "I’m cautious to speak to one individual case."
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