91 former Winnipeg renters entitled to forgotten money: are you among them?

More than 90 former Winnipeg tenants have thousands of dollars with their names on it, waiting to be claimed before time runs out. After two years, the money is considered forfeited to the Crown and goes into a special fund.

Security deposits left behind by past renters held in trust by the Residential Tenancies Branch

Nearly 100 former Winnipeg renters have unclaimed security deposits being held in trust by the province. (Trevor Brine/CBC News)

More than 90 former Winnipeg tenants have thousands of dollars with their names on it, waiting to be claimed before time runs out.

Under Manitoba`s Residential Tenancies Act, unclaimed security deposits — generally amounting to about half a month's rent — are held in trust by the province in cases when a tenant vacates a property but fails to reclaim their deposit and neither the landlord or the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) can contact the renter.

"The province has legislation that benefits tenants by ensuring their money will be held for them for two years. The legislation also benefits landlords by removing the burden and risk associated with retaining these security deposits," a spokesperson for the province wrote in an email.

The unit addresses associated with forgotten deposits are posted and updated online on the Manitoba Government website for the public to view. If after two years no one has claimed them, they are deemed forfeited to the Crown and are rolled into what is called the "security deposit compensation fund."

A CBC News analysis of the addresses revealed that the properties currently associated with unclaimed security deposits are split primarily in two locations in the city: near the University of Manitoba and in the West Broadway area.

Explore the map to see listed locations with unclaimed security deposits.
(Larger circles indicate multiple units in a single property.)

Source: Manitoba Rental Tenancies Branch

Towers Realty Group properties over-represented

Provincial regulations state that when landlords cannot locate the tenant and have no claims against the renter, they must forward the entire deposit to the RTB within 28 days of the termination of the tenancy.

CBC News identified the property managers for nearly each address on the list and found that a disproportionate amount of unclaimed deposits — nearly 60 per cent — were linked to Towers Realty Group.
Property management company Towers Realty Group says the fact that many of their properties are list on the RTB website shows they comply with legislation. (Courtesy: Towers Realty Group)

A spokesperson for the property management company said they were surprised to learn that they are currently the largest remitter of security deposits to the RTB and believe it demonstrates their commitment to acting responsibly in accordance with the law.

"It is possible this statistic could also be a sign that others are perhaps not complying with Provincial requirements," said Jason van Rooy, marketing and customer service manager for Towers Realty Group.

SAM Management Inc., the property manager for many Manitoba Housing complexes is associated with about 20 per cent of the listed addresses. They could not be reached for comment.

Asked about the lack of representation from other property managers or owners on the unclaimed security deposit list, the province wrote in an email that the absence of landlords is not an indication that others are not complying with legislation. The province did not speculate further.

Getting your money back

Individuals who believe they are entitled to an unclaimed deposit are required to fill out a form to prove they're the rightful owner.
Many of the unclaimed deposits were linked to properties near the downtown area, according a CBC News analysis. (Trevor Brine/CBC News)

"We do not list the amount for each address because the tenant needs to provide the amount they left as a deposit as part of the RTB's verification process before returning it," said a provincial spokesperson.

After the rolling two-year period has passed, unclaimed deposits are used to compensate tenants when landlords defy orders from the RTB requiring them to pay back a renter. Amounts exceeding the annual fund cap of $30,000 at the end of each fiscal year are used to cover the cost of RTB programs and courses.