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North Vancouver landlord can't evict jailed tenant
VANCOUVER -- It’s well known renters need protection from unscrupulous landlords in B.C., but a North Vancouver homeowner is sharing his story about what he says has been a nightmare tenant.
Jason Rivero was renting out the basement suite of his place on Lynn Valley Road in 2019, and a man made an application.
"He came to see the suite and then he gave me three references, from which I could only contact one, who gave me fantastic references for the guy. I’m guessing now it was a fake. Maybe it was his own mother," Rivero told CTV News via Skype while on vacation.
Fast forward to Jan. 10 when Rivero heard noises coming from downstairs.
"When I went there to check what was happening…he threatened me that he wouldn't be taken out of there alive, and that me and my family didn’t know what was coming to us, and then he showed me the gun," he said.
Rivero called police, which started an hours-long standoff with RCMP. Eventually officers fired tear gas and stormed the unit to make an arrest.
For three weeks, Rivero and his family had to live in a hotel. He said the tear gas had filtered upstairs through the vents, and their home was unlivable. Air filters were placed in the downstairs unit to make it safe.
Rivero said he found extensive damage inside the suite, which he estimates at about $25,000. He said every piece of furniture was broken, and lights had even been pulled from the ceiling.
Rivero wanted to evict his tenant as soon as possible, so he applied to the Residential Tenancy Branch for an expedited process. But one of the requirements is that the eviction notice be served to the tenant in person. The problem was the tenant, Alexander Dinu Tanasescu, was in jail.
"I tried to serve the documents to the defence lawyer. I posted the documents on the door. I gave them to the girlfriend," Rivero said. But the claim was denied.
In the decision, the arbitrator wrote, "I acknowledge that the Landlord made efforts to serve the Tenant in person and that the Landlord was unable to do so given the circumstances. However, this does not change the service requirements."
"So he’s still my tenant, if you can believe it," said Rivero. "His bail condition is to not approach my house or my family which I’m very thankful for, but at the same time I cannot evict him. Why don’t they use some criteria? They see this out of this planet situation and they still do not take my claim as valid. I do not understand that."
The tenancy agreement is up on March 31, so Rivero said he will ride it out until then. But no rent has been paid since January, and it will take another month for the suite to be able to be rented out again.
"When a landlord chooses an expedited process for a hearing, the full package for the notice of hearing must be done in person to help ensure all parties are fully informed as quickly as possible," the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a statement to CTV News. "Applicants can request a hearing through the regular process if they can’t meet the requirement to serve the notice in person. The wait time for a hearing through the regular hearing process is approximately six to eight weeks, with a final decision made within 30 days of the hearing date."
David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C., said there are ways to mitigate situations like this.
"What ultimately happened to the landlord’s rental unit is unconscionable and a landlord's worst nightmare," he said. "The best advice LandlordBC can provide to landlords is to understand that you are running a business and, as such, you need to educate yourself to ensure that you are running your business properly."