Regina tenant Joey Brooks admits he owes his former landlord Mark Gosselin a couple months of rent, but he's not offering to pay up.
Instead, he suggested Gosselin will "have to file down at the residential tenancies office for the rent that is now due."
This is the third landlord dispute over rent that Brooks has had in the past eight months. In each case, he has refused to pay some rent and has dragged his landlords through lengthy appeal processes.
'It's just the way it goes. It's the way the law is.' - Joey Brooks, Regina tenant
The iTeam asked Brooks why he'd force Gosselin to go through the dispute process rather than just pay what he owes.
"It's not that I don't have the money," said Brooks. He claims that after he failed to pay rent, Gosselin was constantly harassing him and wouldn't give him privacy "so now he's going to have to work for (the rent). Simple as that."
"It's just the way it goes. It's the way the law is."
Brooks lived in Gosselin's home rent free
Brooks lived in Gosselin's rental home from Feb. 20 until near the end of May, but he stopped paying rent in April.
Gosselin tried to evict Brooks but the tenant was able to prolong his stay through a series of appeals.
Brooks took Gosselin to the Office of Residential Tenancies where his appeal was denied. Brooks went on to appeal to the Court of Queen's Bench and then the Court of Appeal where his claim was dismissed each time.
Brooks argued that Gosselin broke the rules when he asked for a $1,200 damage deposit. Brooks paid the money but in court he argued it was illegitimate for Gosselin to take the full damage deposit up front. He said he should have been allowed to pay it over two months. On that basis he refused to pay rent for months.
Gosselin argued Brooks willingly paid the $1,200 damage deposit up front without complaint. The residential tenancies office and the court dismissed Brooks' argument.
Gosselin said he lost thousands in income because of this ordeal; at least two full months of rent at $1,200 a month, plus a third because Brooks lived in the home until the end of May making it impossible to get it ready for a June tenant.
"Unbelievable… Unbelievable," said Gosselin, shaking his head. "You hear about things like this but you never think it'll happen to you."
At one point, Gosselin said he just gave up and offered to forgive all the rent if Brooks would just move out.
"He thought about it. He phoned me back. He said he would if I gave him his damage deposit back," said Gosselin, with a laugh.
Brooks took two other landlords to court recently
Brooks dragged two of his other recent landlords through the same appeal process over the past few months. In both of those cases he also failed to pay some rent, and then appealed his eviction to the Office of Residential Tenancies, the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Appeal.
On the steps of the Court of Appeal, after losing his latest court action to Gosselin, Brooks insisted he's not doing this in order to avoid paying rent.
"I've been renting for almost 20 years," Brooks explained. "At this point in my life is the most money that I've made in my life and now I'm just going to try and get free rent? For what?"
"I'm trying to get these scummy landlords to actually do work to their houses, bring them up to date."
When asked, Brooks said Gosselin's home was, in fact, in decent shape.
"I feel bad for Mark," Brooks said. "I never really had much of a problem with him."
Brooks angry at the justice system 'favouring these landlords'
Brooks said his dispute ultimately isn't with the landlords but with the justice system, which he feels is biased against tenants.
"The hearing officer at the residential tenancies office, the Court of Queen's Bench. They are going against what is stated in the (Residential Tenancies) Act. Then why do we have the act? They're favouring these landlords."
In February, a change to the act kicked in which was designed to reduce the number of groundless appeals to the Court of Queen's Bench.
As CBC reported last fall, there are some tenants who use the legal system in order to avoid paying rent.
Tenants are now required to pay a half-month's rent to the court before they can appeal. If the tenant loses the judge may give that money to the landlord.
According to an email from the Ministry of Justice, "early results indicate this change has been effective in reducing the number of appeals filed without merit."
'The rentalsman ain't helping me. The courts aren't helping me.' - Mark Gosselin, Regina landlord
The ministry said from Feb. 15 to May 19 of this year there were 17 appeals; down from 24 during the same timeframe last year. However the ministry says it's too early to definitively say this new approach is working.
A woman paid the $600 on Brook's behalf so the Court of Queen's Bench would allow his appeal. After Brooks lost, the judge ordered that the money be repaid to the woman, not to Gosselin.
He said he's shocked by that and sees it as further evidence that landlords have been abandoned by the system. "The rentalsman ain't helping me. The courts aren't helping me."