A landlady whose Calgary property was being occupied until Friday by a man claiming to be a Freeman-on-the-Land finally got a look inside the house Monday.
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Rebekah Caverhill said her half-duplex in Parkdale is filled with old computer equipment, Freemen manifestos and garbage.
The 48-year-old tenant, who goes by the names Andreas Pirelli and Mario Antonacci, rented the unit from the Sylvan Lake pensioner in November 2011.
He told her he was a handyman, convincing her to let him make improvements on the property in exchange for three months' rent.
But Caverhill soon discovered the man had changed the locks on the house and gutted the kitchen and bathroom.
He told Caverhill he was a Freeman-on-the-Land and that the house was now his embassy.
Freemen are self-styled "sovereign citizens" who have — in their view — freed themselves from the restrictions and conspiracies of government.
Caverhill later received an invoice from the renter's personal company for $26,000 in work done to the home and a notice from the Land Titles Office that a $17,000 lien had been put on the house.
A lien is a legal claim on the property to secure debt or performance payments.
After taking her story to the media, Caverhill secured a court order to have the man removed from the property by the end of last week.
Tenant faces multiple charges
On Friday, police arrested the unwanted tenant on warrants from his native Quebec, stemming from an alleged 2007 assault against his former landlady in Montreal.
Caverhill said the man still owes her more than $10,000 in back rent, but instead of paying her, the tenant put an additional lien on her property, she said.
“Thank God I have someone from [law firm] Gowlings, a lawyer pro bono that will help get rid of these liens,” she said.
The last time Caverhill was in the house was just over a year ago. She said she found the kitchen and bathroom gutted and a bedroom floor was painted black.
On Monday, Caverhill found the kitchen and bathroom repaired but she said those upgrades don`t change the fact that she never signed off on the work being done.
"It's like if I came up to you ... and I slapped you in the face. It's just as horrible," she said.
Caverhill is relieved to have her property back, but it has been an expensive lesson.
"This looks more like a wreck, like a complete reno," she said about the damage and debris left behind.
Service Alberta said it is investigating the case.
Antonacci faces charges in Alberta for operating without a prepaid contractor's licence and for changing the locks on the house without telling the landlord.