The Cunning Tenant
and the Smart Owner
permission of Al Kemp, ROMA BC, Top Storey Oct/Nov /02
The title sounds like a
fable and you might think it is after reading this, but every word is true!
The tenant - we’ll call her Delores - had been given an eviction
notice on September 2 for non-payment of rent (in MB such notice is given
after 3 days RT Act Sec. 95 (1)). A
couple of days later, the owners - we’ll call them Bob And Deanna - received
a registered letter with no return address containing only a blank piece of
paper. Thinking Delores may have
made a mistake, Deanna phoned and asked her if she had sent the letter with
nothing in it. Delores replied
indignantly that she had sent it and that it had contained a money order for
the rent! Deanna insisted it
hadn’t and that the eviction notice remained in effect.
The rest of the conversation went nowhere.
A few days later, another
registered letter arrived, this one containing a Notice of Arbitration
Hearing. Delores had applied to
set the eviction notice aside, claiming that she had paid the rent by money
order. Interestingly, she also
requested an extension of time to pay in the event the arbitrator found she
hadn’t paid the rent.
It was at this point that
our heroes, Bob and Deanna, put 2 and 2 together and came up with what was
probably the right answer. They
deduced that Delores had sent the empty registered letter so she could produce
a registration receipt at the hearing. Further,
she had probably bought a money order, but not sent it, planning also to
introduce that “receipt” at the hearing.
This is where Deanna’s
action would have done Sherlock Homes proud!
She went to the post office and bought a money order for $1.00.
The document consisted of a thin piece of paper on top (the receipt
portion), then a piece of carbon paper, then the actual money order.
Deanna removed the receipt portion and wrote the name, Kathy Brereton
(Director of the Residential Tenancy Office) on it.
Then, using the carbon, Deanna wrote her own name, so it showed up on
the money order (and she could cash it of course).
Next she wrote a letter to
Kathy Brereton, referring to the upcoming arbitration hearing and explaining
in detail what she had done with the money order, advising that she would use
this to show the arbitrator how Delores’ registration receipt and money
order receipt - apparently foolproof evidence - were in fact fraudulent.
We learned later that Kathy
Brereton forwarded the letter to the arbitrator and we were looking forward to
learning the result of the hearing. Unfortunately
(sort of), the end of this story is anticlimactic.
Delores moved out two days before the hearing and withdrew her
application. Perhaps the cunning
tenant surmised she was about to be undone by the smart owner!
The moral of the story? If something looks fishy, it probably is. Use your smarts and experience to figure out what might be happening, then take appropriate action. Passive owners lose arbitration cases.