New Brunswick

Blacklist bad tenants: Saint John landlord

A Saint John landlord wants to blacklist troublesome tenants after one person's rampage left him with a $20,000 bill.

A Saint John landlord wants to blacklist troublesome tenants after one person's rampage left him with a $20,000 bill. 

New provincial rules make it easier to evict criminals from rental accommodation, but Philip Huggard is proposing a database of bad rental risks to avoid troublemakers getting a lease in the first place.

Huggard wants to set up a landlord's association so property owners can bar problem tenants altogether.

Huggard, who owns more than 80 apartment units in the North End, said the neighbourhood is currently like the Wild West.

One of Huggard's tenants — a drug dealer and the target of a drive-by shooting last fall — was the first to be evicted using the new provincial legislation, Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods or SCAN.

However, the apartment was vandalized — fixtures ripped out and the water left running — in retaliation for the eviction. That cost Huggard $20,000 to repair.

"I don't think it's unfair to people keep out who are known troublemakers, who are known to smash things up. It costs thousands here. Who should pay this?" Huggard said.

Bill Hanley, lead investigator for SCAN, said its aim is to stop tenants from doing illegal activities in rental units without having to eat up resources in the court system.

The former Saint John police officer said he has had his name scrawled in graffiti on the side of a North End apartment building, telling him to get out and go away.

But he has no plans of backing down.

"This is about them taking back their neighbourhoods," he said, "one property at a time."

Hanley said it's not an overnight process and eviction is the last resort.

"We take statements, we talk to witnesses and we do surveillance," he said. "What we do very early in the investigation is meet with the property owner and the tenant to try to stop the activity, without necessarily moving people out of their homes."

Hanley promises full confidentiality for any local residents who report criminal activity by tenants.

Since June, 20 people have been evicted under the program and 24 others are under investigation.