The B.C. couple at the centre of a bad tenant investigation by CBC News, Susan and Chris Perret, have been served with an eviction notice again — the sixth time in two years and only one day after the CBC first aired the story.
The couple's current landlord, Cara Falconer, made the decision after seeing the Perrets' story on CBC on Wednesday.
"She gave me three postdated cheques and the first one was for April 1 and it bounced," Falconer told the CBC's Natalie Clancy. " And then last night, I saw your story and I thought, 'She's never going to pay me.'"
Falconer said she rented to the Perrets in Maple Ridge without a reference because she believed them when they told her their previous landlord had stolen their money and left town.
In fact, that landlord — Kim Gouws — hasn't gone anywhere, and says the Perrets owe her $5,000.
Confronted at the new rental home by CBC, Susan Perett refused to answer questions.
"Talk to my lawyer," she told CBC's Clancy. But Perrett refused to give CBC News the name of her lawyer.
For Falconer, the decision to serve the Perrets with an eviction notice and speak about it was in part to protect other landlords.
"What I feel is I want to protect a seventh," she said."I want her out of my house and I want everyone to know this could potentially be them."
The Perrets have five days to pay Falconer the rent under the terms of B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act.
If they pay up, the rules say they can't be evicted. Falconer says if that happens, she plans to take all six previous eviction orders to the Residential Tenancy Branch and ask for permission to force them to leave.
Amy Spencer, president of Landlord B.C., says tenants like the Perrets are exactly what her association wants to warn its members about.
"Ninety-nine per cent of tenants are good, but it's those ones that get out there, like the ones in Maple Ridge, that give tenants a bad name," Spencer said.
Landlords want action
Landlords who lost money to the Perrets are angry no one at B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch warned them about the couple's history of evictions.
They've suggested that the Residential Tenancy Branch could keep track of cases like this and provide the information to potential landlords, but the minister responsible for housing says privacy laws make a bad-tenants registry impossible.
"That's not something that I think we'd even be able to come with a piece of legislation to. It would actually compromise people's confidentiality," said Rich Coleman, B.C.'s minister responsible for housing.
But the court-ordered eviction notices that CBC News obtained in the case of the Perrets are actually public documents. Anyone can search for them and buy them for $6 apiece online through B.C.'s civil courts registry.
Landlord B.C. asks why the province can't at least list those tenants with court-ordered evictions. Spencer said her association could post the list on its website.
B.C.'s housing minister says he would consider that.
"I do know they are doing some work on some of these things; they may bring us some proposals that we would certainly listen to," Coleman said.
What can landlords do?
In the meantime, Landlord B.C. members pay $150 a year and get credit and background checks on prospective tenants for just $8.
The association says it uses the screening company Tenant Verification Service Inc., which is based in Surrey, and gives small landlords the tools to assess credit worthiness of potential renters.
There are also several online services to help landlords weed out potential problem renters, such as Equifax, which produces credit-check reports starting at about $22.
3 tips for landlords for safe renting:
- Do your research: Study B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act (or other provinces' tenancy acts), and ensure you know and understand the rules.
- Run a credit check: Get all prospective renters to sign an application agreeing to a credit background check, and register as a landlord with a credit reporting company. Do the credit check before you sign the lease.
- Confirm, confirm, confirm: Make a copy of ID documents and confirm each renter's identity. Don't rent without at least two references from previous landlords, and follow up with those landlords.
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