Dispute between landlord and tenant ends with front-end loader through window
Landlord says damage was an accident, police investigating
Police in St. John's are investigating an incident between a landlord and his tenants that ended with a front-end loader tearing out the side of a house.
Robert Regular says he didn't mean to strike his own house, but his tenants, Cory Monk and Joella Dyke, said his actions were reckless and put them and their animals in danger.
"He physically pushed our car out of the way with a backhoe and then drove the backhoe into the house," Dyke said. "I don't want to leave here. I've been afraid to leave the property for months because I don't know. I was fearful something like this would happen when we weren't here."
Tensions have been simmering between both sides for several months over a disagreement about legal occupancy, and made worse by a dispute resolution system bogged down in pandemic delays.
Regular served them an eviction notice for late rent in October, but the tenants provided CBC News with documents showing they paid rent before the eviction date. Under provincial legislation, that would make the eviction notice irrelevant. Regular says they haven't paid enough and wants them out of the house.
It came to a head Wednesday morning when Regular showed up with a front-end loader and a driver prepared to clear snow from the side of the house. He told CBC News he wanted to get scaffolding set up to do repairs on the leaking roof.
Monk said he was worried Regular intended to damage the house to get them to leave, and refused to move his car from the side of the house.
Video of the incident shows Regular manning the controls of the loader while another man — who Monk said was the original driver — stood on the side of the machine. Regular pushes forward with the bucket and moves the car backwards, despite Monk being on the hood of the car.
The video does not clearly show how the loader ends up striking the house. Regular said he accidentally snagged the corner of the house while backing away from the car.
The police were called during the incident, but Regular had left by the time officers arrived. Monk said he tried to stop him from leaving, and Regular said his windshield was smashed in the process.
WATCH | Ryan Cooke reports on Cory Monk and Joella Dyke and their dispute with their landlord:
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. James Cadigan said no arrests have been made, but statements are being taken from everyone involved and the scene has been photographed.
The tenants want to see their landlord charged with recklessly endangering their safety. Regular wants Monk charged with mischief for damaging his vehicle.
Pandemic delays cause boiling tensions
The disagreement at the centre of the issue — whether the eviction order is enforceable — should have been settled long ago.
Disputes between tenants and landlords are settled by the residential tenancy board. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however, hearings have either been rescheduled or happened via teleconference.
Landlords and tenants have reported lengthy delays in the process. The dispute at the centre of the Allandale Road incident began in November, and there still has not been a hearing, despite both sides voicing concern for damage to the property.
"We've been stuck between a rock and a hard place for a very long time, and because of COVID everything is slowed down with the tenancy board, with the city, with everything," Dyke said. "That's completely understandable. But because it slowed down, our landlord decided to take the law into his own hands this morning."
Regular denies that was his intention, saying he wants to preserve the old farmhouse and renovate it — albeit for new tenants.
Dyke and Monk said they've been trying to leave, but are having a hard time finding a place that will take them and their six pets, several of which were inherited when Monk's mother died suddenly.
"We've been looking for another place for years, but no landlord will look at us," Dyke said.
The couple says they are looking into hiring a lawyer to explore their options against Regular.
- This story was amended to state the tenants provided CBC News with documentation they paid rent before the eviction date.Mar 05, 2021 11:54 AM NT