Allan J Gold

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Allan J Gold
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There’s Another Kind of Elder Financial Abuse – It’s Ten-abuse! (“Loc-abus!”) That’s a Landlord 65+ Suffering From Fraudulent Renter or ‘Professional Tenant’ Not Paying Rent **

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There’s Another Kind of Elder Financial Abuse – It’s Ten-abuse! (“Loc-abus”)

That’s a Landlord 65+ Suffering From Fraudulent Renter or ‘Professional Tenant’ Not Paying Rent**

Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*

By Allan Gold, lawyer Montreal and elder law attorney

Vol. 14, #10 – November 30, 2023

OPENING

Elder financial abuse happens. Using force or threats is one way of getting money from someone older. Financial fraud is another way to steal money from an aged individual. It may comprise deception, lies, flimflam, etc. The goal is financial or personal gain for the dishonest person. But, there’s another form seemingly under the radar. It occurs in the realm of landlord-lease. I call it Ten-abuse (“Loc-abus”). Rental transgression/fraud comes in several forms. It’s where predators hunt senior landlords. Victims include property owners aged 65+, empty nesters downsizing, householders with a spare room, attic/basement flat, offering accommodation to single seniors/student-age renters. Instead of thoroughly checking out prospective tenants, many of these landlords merely trust their gut.

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There are some frauds so well conducted that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them.” –

Charles Caleb Colton 3

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WHO ARE THESE PREDATORS?

Unsuspecting seniors are hunted by several types of predators, notably,

-Re-Renter fraud artists say they’re looking for an apartment to rent. Ostensibly to reside in the dwelling, they actually plan to use it as a rental property or offer it on an online marketplace for short- and long-term homestays. The problem is such usage might be contrary to law and/or condo regulations. And visitors are prone to create noise, disturbing neighbors. Many also cause significant damages.

-Rental scammers send E-mail messages asking to rent a dwelling.They deliver/post a check although having no intention of renting. Due to a deliberate over payment, they ask for a refund of the excess. Of course, the check is bogus. And by the time it’s returned by the bank, the landlord has already refunded the money.

-So-called ‘Professional (renters) tenants’ know the laws surrounding the rental system incredibly well. They use this knowledge to get away without paying rent.

VERY BAD TENANTS

Listen-up. This is a real problem. Here’s a case in point.

– On Oct. 26, 2022, Pat Foran, CTV News Toronto Consumer Alert Videojournalist profiled Tozheg Roshankar, a single parent and a caregiver to her mother. This  Toronto woman bought a home as an investment property to help her pay the bills. However, the tenant of her Mississauga rental home was refusing to pay rent/utilities. She was quoted as saying, “I have no idea at this point how I’m going to be able to keep this going and allow her to just have free accommodations.” 4

Want another? I have several more.

– On Sept. 23, 2016, Trevor Dunn of· CBC News posted a piece titled, “Landlord says James Regan owes thousands in rent on Yorkville suite, but she can’t evict him” James Regan, 62, was evicted from a Toronto condo earlier this year after he failed to pay more than $25,000 in rent. ” 5

– On July 6, 2017,  CBC reported, “Cheque overpayment scam in K-W triggers warning from police. Scammers make out large counterfeit cheque as payment to sellers, and then ask for repayment of excess.” The Waterloo Regional Police Service is warning residents about overpayment scams involving fake cheques. Here’s how it works: The scammer will overpay a seller, using a counterfeit check and then request repayment of the excess amount. In a written statement on their website, the WRPS say there have been a number of victims in the region who have received fake cheques with large dollar values associated to them.” 6

– On Jan. 28, 2020,  Jesse Feith of the Montreal Gazette authored a column titled, “Montreal Airbnb hosts ordered to pay more than $50,000 to condo syndicate The condo complex’s management had hired private investigators to catch tenants in the act of renting out units through Airbnb.” 7

There’s one more thing. These scammers are also housewreckers. That’s because they generally leave the formerly leased premises in a hugely damaged state, requiring thousands of dollars of repairs.

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“Healthy skepticism is the basis of all accurate observation.” – Arthur Conan Doyle 8

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DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES

Several ways and means for a landlord to protect himself or herself are as follows:

  • Require each prospective tenant to complete a detailed application
  • Carry out an extensive investigation into each applicant
  • Check the facts – always verify what the tenant applicant says
  • Never give out your banking information.
  • Have tenant e-transfer the money to an email address that is set up specifically for this purpose and not linked to your personal email.
  • Once deposited, ask your bank to verify if the funds are actually in your bank account.
  • Don’t return funds which are deposited as an overpayment.  Tell the ‘renter’ you will apply it to their upcoming rent.

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Fraud and deceit are anxious for your money. Be informed and prudent.” -John Andreas Widtsoe 3

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DELINQUENT TENANT “RED FLAG” INDEX & 3-STRIKE LAW/HABITUAL RENTAL PERPETRATOR REGISTRY

As a lawyer Montreal and elder law attorney,  I believe that while educating our elders about taking precautions is good, such isn’t enough. Art. 48 of the Charter of human rights and freedoms (c-12) provides, “48. Every aged person and every handicapped person has a right to protection against any form of exploitation….” As a society, we therefore have the obligation to protect them. I have an idea how to address this danger for all property owners inclusive of those who are elderly. I do hereby make a  modest proposal.

First, let’s lobby the Quebec government to establish the DELINQUENT “RED FLAG” INDEX for someone having a judgment rendered against him/her at the TALTribunal administratif du logement (formerly Quebec Régie du logement), such comprising a condemnation to pay unpaid rentals and/or resiliation of lease/eviction. It will be alphabetical and every renter will be listed by real name and all aliases, nick names, etc. A tenant will be double-flagged should there be a TAL judgment rendered against him/her, ruling that he/she has made an abusive/dilatory procedure and/or where he/she was prohibited from filing new procedures without Court authorization. Since anyone can make a mistake, there might be an alert to all users, to inquire into and assess aggravating or mitigating factors.  

Furthermore, let’s lobby the Quebec government to enact a 3-Strike Rule for Repeat Rental Perpetrator/Evictees. It will be something like Texas’s Felony Three-Strike Rule. Simply put, if someone in the Lone Star State has two prior felony convictions and is subsequently convicted of another felony, he/she can be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period of 25+ years. Our rule would work something like that. If the renter has two prior unpaid rental TAL condemnations and/or eviction decisions rendered against him or her and this individual is again condemned to pay unpaid rentals and/or evicted, that’s Strike Three! He or she would then be considered “incorrigible.” In other words, that’s someone not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed. This would mean that he or she would be registered in the HABITUAL RENTAL PERPETRATOR REGISTRY.

This Index and Registry would be accessible online. Each will be free and user friendly. There would be a big announcement on their creation. There would be a yearly publicity campaign, announcing new additions to the Registry. The Index and Registry would be a terrific tool for all Quebec landlords to protect themselves against this menace. Such will also be a deterrent against rental offenders re-offending. I expect senior landlords would make the visit to the Index/Registry web site a ‘must-do ‘ first step in the tenant approval process.

CONCLUSION

Fraudsters target the elderly. People of greater years are seen as being more trusting than the average. And since large numbers are landlords, delinquent renter/scammers prey on these seniors. Typically, they’re less sophisticated in vetting tenant applicants. Of course, we wish that they would be more wary and adopt stricter application procedures. But since all of us must protect the elderly, I call upon the provincial government to act. The Tenant 3-Strike Rule for Repeat Rental Perpetrator/Evictees might be just the thing to address the problem of tenant squatter/fraudsters. The HABITUAL RENTAL PERPETRATOR REGISTRY should increase the likelihood that these predators are identified pre-lease and rejected before they do harm. And it might even reduce recidivism.

P. T. Barnum was quoted as saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” So there’s no time to lose. Let’s go!

Allan Gold, lawyer Montreal and elder law attorney

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NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER. The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.

 **© 2023– ALLAN GOLD – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED-TOUS LES DROITS SONT RÉSERVÉS Ed. 2023-11-30-001

* ©/TM 2006, 2008, 2018 Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 1. Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

2. Image by Elisa from Pixabay

3. https://www.azquotes.com

4. https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/landlord-claims-professional-tenant-owes-her-13-000-after-she-stopped-paying-rent-1.6126875

5 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rent-free-well-dressed-professional-tenant-won-t-leave-toronto-apartment-1.3775136

6. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-regional-police-warn-sellers-fraud-check-overpayment-scam-cheque-1.4193011

7. https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-airbnb-hosts-ordered-to-pay-more-than-50000-to-condo-syndicate

8. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/charles_caleb_colton_386336

 

 

Tags:

#senior landlords  #precautions against professional tenants  #precautions against rental scammers