So I got a text from my landlord asking me to call her because she wanted to discuss my unit. True to form, I panic immediately… then shrug my shoulders and decide to call her. She wants to know if I'm okay because my last two rent payments have been over a week late each. I explain the unemployment situation and she seems genuinely shocked and concerned when I tell her how long its been since I've been employed. Ya, I'm shocked too! But what can I do?
She explains that she's looking at expanding her rental real estate holdings and has some pressing legal issues with tenants that she'd like to get resolved immediately. She asks if I'd be interested in assisting her with her tenant issues and if I'd be interested in the possibility of working as her assistant in the long run. I tell her I'm definitely interested and explain that I cannot provide legal advice or represent her (because I am not fully licensed and not insured as a result of being unemployed) but that I can assist her as a consultant in completing paperwork for submission to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) and I can prepare her for her hearing at the LTB. She then explains that she needs assistance with data entry for her rental properties and has purchased a web-based software to manage her tenants and their rent, as well as organizing and filing her maintenance, utilities, repair and replacement costs. I tell her that I can definitely do that. So, we'll see where that goes.
Yesterday, I met with her, the building managers and a problematic tenant to inspect his unit with exterminators because of an ongoing bedbug problem. Yup, he's still got bugs after 2 years! Seems that the tenant also took it upon himself to renovate and redecorate by painting almost everything in the apartment. Good times! Shocking what landlords have to put up with sometimes.
I spent the better part of 5 hours discussing, drafting and making phone calls to clarify the procedural aspects of the LTB filing and hopefully she is able to get him evicted.
In these instances, I want to have sympathy for the tenant because he is on government assistance, lives alone, and appears to have hygiene and mental health issues. However, he refuses treatment, will not work with a social worker and has done nothing to satisfactorily improve the condition of his unit. All he was required to do was hot-launder and bag his bedding, clothing and linens, move all furniture away from the walls, keep all electronics off the floor, maintain the seal of the protective cover on his mattress and put one on his box-spring and not paint everything in the apartment. All of that costs very little and requires very little effort.
We suspect that the compulsion to paint is a manifestation of the tenant's desire to protect himself from the outside (and possibly block out voices). He is likely a proud man who would feel weakened or ashamed if required to meet with a therapist or social worker and submit to taking medication to control or manage his issues. He believes that he is capable of taking care of himself and he adamantly wishes to remain independent.
So questions abound as a result. How does a landlord with a tenant like that proceed? Who is essentially responsible for this individual? How can he be provided with assistance that doesn't diminish his independence or self-sufficiency?
This man is going to be evicted. That is a fact. In his current mental state, I am not certain he could find or secure a new place to live. I would hate to see him end up on the streets as a result. There are already too many people of varying age and mental health living on the streets where I live. I have put in a call to the local office of the Canadian Mental Health Association asking for information about referrals. It's the least I can do…I hope that there's at the very least something they can do to help him. I won't do anything to jeopardize my landlord's interest in evicting him, but I'd like to ensure that he doesn't fall through the cracks and end up on the street.
Next up: Steps in the right direction (baby steps!)