B.C. bad tenants must pay or go to jail
Susan and Chris Perret owe almost $40,000, landlords say
The B.C. couple exposed as serial bad tenants by CBC last month are facing more court action and possible jail time as the full cost of their apparent scam becomes clear.
On April 28, a judge in Port Coquitlam small claims court ordered Susan and Chris Perret to repay $6,000 to former landlord Suman Parasad by June 9, or go to jail.
Parasad was the first landlord to take the Perrets to small claims court over unpaid rent, claiming the pair racked up almost $8,000 in arrears in 2013.
Two more landlords have since contacted the CBC to say they have been the victim of the Perrets' apparent scam.
A total of eight landlords are now working together to fight back as a group.
"They know every single rule in the book," Matthew Huotari, the eighth landlord to come forward told CBC.
Huotari — who contacted the CBC after seeing the story with the Perrets' photo — said the pair's actions amount to fraud.
"If you add all of us together, it's a huge amount of money that they've scammed."
Landlords say they are owed $39,650
Counting up all the arrears the landlords claim they are owed by the Perrets, including unpaid rent, utilities, bailiffs' fees, cleaning, fees from bounced cheques, court fees and lost rent from vacancies following broken leases, the amount owed totals $39,650 since July 2012.
- July - Sept. 2012: Evicted. Money owed: $7500
- Sept. 2012: Evicted. Money owed: $3750
- Oct. 2012 - Mar. 2013: Evicted. Money owed: $7900
- Mar. - May 2013: Evicted. Money Owed: approx $5000
- June - Oct. 2013: Evicted. Money owed: $7500
- Nov. 2013 - Jan 2014: Evicted. $3000
- Jan. - Mar. 2014: Evicted. $5000
The Perrets' current landlord had served an eviction notice after a cheque bounced, but says since the CBC story aired, arrears have been cleared and monthly rent is now being paid in cash.
The landlord is continuing to fight for an eviction based on the couple's history.
Nicole Read, who rented to the Perrets for six months and says she is owed $7500, called the RCMP and was advised to file a complaint on behalf of all eight landlords.
"There is some kind of pattern here that I think shows they don't have an intention to pay rent," she told the CBC.
Read says that while she was waiting on overdue rent, Susan Perret was posting about a trip to Las Vegas on her Facebook page.
"We couldn't believe that people would actually do this... the sort of entitlement they felt living in our house not paying rent."
Read went to the RCMP after the Perrets' current landlord failed to persuade the Residential Tenancy Board to evict the couple based on their history.
Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing in B.C., says that, while most disputes between landlords and tenants in the province are resolved under the Residential Tenancy Act, this case is beyond its purview.
"If you have a fraud complaint, that's well outside the jurisdiction of the act," he said.
"And if it's a fraud and [the landlords] want to pursue it criminally, they should go to the police."
Coleman said they should also pursue action in Small Claims Court.
The CBC contacted the Perrets for comment, but received no response.
Previously, Susan Perret told CBC that she "had issues" with the four landlords named in the initial story.
Later, confronted at a rental home by CBC's Natalie Clancy, Perret refused to answer questions.
"Talk to my lawyer," she said. But Perret refused to give the CBC the name of her lawyer.
What can landlords do?
Landlord B.C. is one organization aiming to assist landlords looking for help in selecting tenants. Members pay $150 a year and get credit and background checks on prospective tenants for just $8.
The association says it uses the screening company Tenant Verification Service Inc., which is based in Surrey, and gives small landlords the tools to assess credit worthiness of potential renters.
There are also several online services to help landlords weed out potential problem renters, such as Equifax, which produces credit-check reports starting at about $22.
3 tips for landlords for safe renting:
- Do your research: Study B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act (or other provinces' tenancy acts), and ensure you know and understand the rules.
- Run a credit check: Get all prospective renters to sign an application agreeing to a credit background check, and register as a landlord with a credit reporting company. Do the credit check before you sign the lease.
- Confirm, confirm, confirm: Make a copy of ID documents and confirm each renter's identity. Don't rent without at least two references from previous landlords, and follow up with those landlords.
With files from CBC's Natalie Clancy
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