A Drake style collar, a premature lease termination and the Torontonian who lasts 3 weeks.
May 10th 2017
As I continue to manage properties across Calgary, I continue to have strange and somewhat comical, almost “South Park esque” situations arise that I just can’t resist writing about. This month provided another one for you… Hopefully these experiences can help you avoid similar mistakes. I feel as a landlord, these things will happen and it’s best to take them with a grain of salt, shake it off, move on and find a new tenant. Never hold on too tight. Here is what is happening to me…
The rental property.
https://www.rentch.ca/property/135-13th/ – a 1 Bedroom plus den unit on the 15th floor of the trendy Colours building right in the middle of the a rejuvenated 1st street SW. It’s literally the “ShiTiPaTown” part of Calgary and people love it. One of Calgary’s newest and trendiest cocktail bars is on the main floor and you can reserve a table from your couch as a resident. Que Torontonian Playboy…
We will call him, Tenant B… a 30 or so year old Torontonian salesman with a small degree of success. Small, as in his stature, he wears tucked in button up shirts and drives a luxury SUV. He also refers to me as pal, which just makes me think of yelling “I’m not your pal, friend.” everytime I see him. To which I can only hope he would naturally reply, “I’m not your friend, buddy.” At this point I will not be able to resist saying “I’m not your friend, pal”. And so on and so forth… Alas, none of this happened…
The Residential Tenancy Act aka ‘The Rules’.
The residential tenancy act states that leases can be “broken” under 2 scenarios: substantial breach or due to personal circumstances. If a tenant or landlord has committed a substantial breach of the lease agreement then a 14 day notice can be served and / or an application can be made through the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) or Provincial Court to end the lease. When it comes to personal circumstances, a tenant can ask the landlord to end a lease early. When this happens and a tenant has a reasonable request (they got a job in another city or just bought their dream/1st home) then sure, I as a landlord go out of my way to work with my tenants to find a new renter and move on. On the other hand, if a tenant finds a slightly cheaper unit across the street, you need to finish your lease before you vacate or find someone else to rent the space. In this case, Tenant B wanted to do neither.
At first everything was fine.
Tenant B was in town looking for a condo for rent after being recently transferred to Calgary. He showed up with what seemed to be his girlfriend, a choker wearing corporate type who smelled like gin who would never be seen again. She loved the view from the 15th floor and talked him into renting it. I emailed the application; he promptly submitted it with reasonable references, employment and positive rental history.
My very 1st sign that this guy was not going to be your average tenant was when he showed up to sign the lease and pick up his keys. Sure, it was winter, it was cold, he was from “the 416” and he was in Calgary during a particularly stormy winter week, but…
He shows up to sign his lease in a Drake style fur coat.
I am talking big fuzzy fur collar on an otherwise normal suede jacket that it would be rude of me to continue to describe. We complete all the paperwork, he gives me post dated cheques and even hands me a cigar to smoke with him. He tells me the girl he showed up with was not his girlfriend and he’s moving in alone. I leave with a smile, thinking to myself perhaps this be a reasonable tenant after all.. Nope.
3 Weeks later… He emails me, he wants to break the lease.
“Whats your cell number?” He askes, followed an hour later with another email, copied and pasted verbatim: “Sorry pal in and out of meetings today. Was thrown a curve ball option from work over the weekend which will have me spending half of my time back in Ontario – thus making me have to get a condo there as well. I am trying to see what they will do for me/if it is worth it for me to consider it. I know I have just moved in – but if I was to look at potentially opting out of this lease what would be the options which would work for both of us? Let me know your thoughts dude.”
So I ask if he is leaving Calgary entirely and what exactly he hopes will happen.
“Thanks for getting back to me pal – no the intention would be to probably have a smaller place here and there – and with this being the way it is right now I would probably look at month to month for a lower price in each city. Was there much more interest in this place when I rented it? Let’s figure something out if possible.”
I explain to Tenant B that I am managing this unit for an investment group who takes leases seriously.
He made a 1 year commitment, a lease isn’t a joke and he should stick to his commitment.
Now it’s on, he begins:
“I know how a lease works and I know its not a “joke” but when things change and I try to speak to someone regarding it, I expect to speak with them in order to make a deal beneficial for both of us…” He continues, “I dont want to fight with you pal, I like you and I said I’m going to be flexible but its also my life…”
I think to myself, “I’m not your pal, friend.”
He asks that I start showing his unit for rent and give it a shot. Tenant B explains that he didn’t mean for this to happen, he just moved from Toronto to Calgary and should have understood what his job role would be but he now misses Toronto and wants to spend most of his time there. Blah blah blah… This to me was the disconnect, the moment I stopped believing him. If he was just moving back to Toronto I would let bygones be bygones and move on. But he is not, it’s not even clear that he is going back to Toronto, he just wants a cheaper Calgary option. I tell him I am willing to advertise for his apartment but can’t do anything unless I rent it.
I agree to try to re rent it and that I will come the next day and take pictures of his unit.
That’s when Tenant B ups the madness a notch. He starts texting:
“How did the pics look?” He texts, “Let me know when its up I’ll take a peak.”
I’ll save you the plethora of texts. He emails me 64 more times in the next 10 days. 64 times. Most consist of things like:
“How did you make out?”, “I can look at subletting as well?”, “My dad owns and manages a lot of properties in Eastern Canada and my best friends father manages more than a ton here, this is normal.” “Didn’t mean to make it your problem just hoping we could figure it out somehow?”
I ignore as many messages as I can. They continue…
“I found a potential condo for June 1 so trying to figure it all out”, “Do you think it would be easier if I pull my stuff out?”, “So what are our options here”, “What are your thoughts”, “I mean if I was out by May 15th or so you could offer half a month free as an incentive”, “How did it go pal?”
By the 1st of May I had enough.
I explained to him I would be using at least $150 of his security deposit to advertise and I started a Google Adwords campaign as well as a Facebook ad campaign. People started to come view the unit, which I have to then give him 24 hour notice before entering his unit, which invariably leads to a follow up text from Tenant B: “How’d it go pal?”… Incredible.
“Let’s rip the bandaid off…” I text.
“Ok, if we rip the bandaid off I could be out May 10th and someone could have the rest of May for free, $1100 value, Also – you guys could keep $900 of the deposit.” Tenant B bargains. “I could even potentially be out earlier to increase the value, over the course of the contact that would bring the value down to $1340 on a monthly basis real costs if I was out on the 8th.”
“I doesn’t really work that way if I don’t have anyone to move in, buddy.” All I want him to say in reply is I am not your buddy, pal…. He doesnt.
Today is May 10th. A few paint scuffs and an empty apartment later…….
Tenant B ended up paying 3 months rent to live in an apartment for 5 weeks. He paid, April rent, May rent and forfeited his entire deposit. What a guy… I’m honestly never this rude towards my tenants, I respect and do my best to create homes, not just houses, for my tenants. But, this guy… Making it 3 weeks into a 1 year lease and then texting me 64 times in 10 days…
Cya later, Friend.