A warning to landlords

Snowbirds should be cautious about who they allow to look after their property

This letter is to give a “heads up” warning to all landlords and snowbirds in the South Okanagan.

As most landlords already know, the constant restructuring of the residential tenancy regulations have become more and more in favour of the tenant, making it difficult to justify a rental business, particularly home residences. When you hand over the keys to a home worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars to a new tenant, you virtually hand him or her the keys to a bank vault. Those keys allow him to mess up your house, to flee without paying rent or utility bills, to stay in the home for an additional 15 days without paying rent or utility if they so wish — and you can’t do a damn thing about it.

Case in point: I recently rented a home to “C.”, a smooth-talking lady who, because of her business of looking after the homes of snowbirds, appeared to be an ideal candidate for our rental house. C. was given two months to give her former landlord notice, who she said was devastated to learn she was leaving.

My previous tenant (R.) was having difficulty finding a new place, so was staying until the last moment. C. got into near fisticuffs with R. and his girlfriend, when she found that they wouldn’t be leaving until noon of the last day of the month (to which they were entitled), and threatened to sue them if they weren’t out by then. They did move out and cleaned the place before they left, to my satisfaction. But apparently it wasn’t fit to live in, according to C., who demanded that it be cleaned again before she would move in.

To avoid further bitching, I agreed to pay her to do the job. Meanwhile she was harassing her two neighbours, who were also my tenants. One, for parking to close to her part of the driveway, and the second poor chap, because he was a Quebecois, and she didn’t like Quebecois. She did, however, ask the poor chap if he would bring her apples from my orchard. When he refused, she threw a tantrum and complained to me that she didn’t want him anywhere near her house and that his dog was keeping her awake at night. And so on and so on.

When the end of the month came, she gave me 12 days notice (when it should have been 30) and refused to pay her rent. In turn, I had to wait five days after the first of the month end to give her 10 days notice, with another five days added on to make sure she received said notice. So I am out a full month’s rent and a month-and-a-half electrical/utility bill.

Now a word of warning to you snowbirds. C. makes her living looking after the homes of people who spend their winters down south. She used someone else’s mower to mow the lawn (once). She had a lot of antique furniture (much more than anyone who rents would normally have). Check your home when you get back. Her card says she is a “home manager.” Beware.

Frank Martens