Nova Scotia

'Nightmare' Kijiji rental property faces fresh tenant complaints

A Nova Scotia family spotted a dream rental home on Kijiji, but as they got ready to move in, they learned about its problem-ridden past.

Self-employed contractor says he's out $2,500 after trying to repair and rent 471 Vault Rd. in Nova Scotia

The house at 471 Vault Rd. in Kingston, N.S., has been the subject of multiple complaints. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia family spotted a dream rental home on Kijiji, but as they got ready to move in, an online search revealed it was really a "nightmare" property previous tenants say they've lost thousands of dollars on.

CBC News first reported on the property in May. The Annapolis Valley home, also known as the Lord's Ministry Ranch, had seen a stream of tenants who claimed they'd been swindled by the owners, Lisa and Steve Smith.

In mid-November, Derek Oliver, his wife and their two young children thought they'd found a great new home.

"They had a house with two barns and five acres of land," he told CBC News on Friday.

Former corporal owns 471 Vault Rd.

The ad listed 1935 Torbrook Rd. as the address, so he went there to meet the landlords, Lisa and Steve Smith. Steve Smith also uses Dorey as his last name. Oliver told CBC News the couple redirected him to the true address: 471 Vault Rd. in Kingston.

Lisa Smith is shown in this 2012 photo from a newspaper article on her new project, the Lord's Ministry Ranch. (Auroranewspaper.com)

Oliver took his daughter to check out the house. He called his wife with the new address and sent photos. The rent was $1,200 a month, plus a $600 damage deposit.

"Steve, her husband, gave me the rent receipt five minutes prior to me giving Lisa the $1,800," he said.

Lisa Smith, a former corporal in the Canadian Forces, declined to be interviewed for the first story and did not return a phone call and email about this story.

Oliver said the Smiths hired him to fix up the house.

"I'm a self-employed contractor. I'm just starting up. They hired me to go in and hang the drywall, tape it, sand it and paint it. They also hired me to do the flooring upstairs," he said.

He put a deposit on a washer and dryer and brought those to the house. They planned to move in about a week later on Nov. 20. Oliver got to work repairing the house and put the power in his name.

As he finished hanging the drywall, his wife had started to feel something was off. She spoke to a friend who knows the rental industry in the area and immediately knew the 471 Vault Rd. address. His wife soon found the CBC article.

The ad for the house at 471 Vault Road as it appeared in May. It's since been taken offline. (Kijiji.ca)

Oliver got a friend to take a look at the house as he got the heat ready. He told CBC the friend found problems with the electrical components that would need a full renovation to fix.

Broken pipes, busted heating system

The family had moved belongings into the house, but not themselves. They decided to leave the house for another property.

"They [the Smiths] came up to the house as I was doing the first load to move into the other house. They're saying that I broke this, I broke that," he said.

In May, CBC News spoke to people who had run into similar problems renting 471 Vault Rd. from the Smiths. They reported broken pipes, a busted heating system and other issues.

One family said some men turned up at the door days after they moved in, demanding thousands of dollars in fictitious back rent.

The Olivers asked for their $1,800 back, plus $700 that Derek says he's owed for the labour and materials he invested in repairing the house. Oliver said Monday that he and the Smiths have since reached an agreement.

His family has since moved into another home. The latest Kijiji ad seems to have been taken down, but the Lord's Ministry Ranch's website remains online. The "faith-based" business is owned by Lisa Smith and she lists 471 Vault Rd. as the ranch address. She sometimes lists 1935 Torbrook Rd. as the business address. 

Ranch a registered charity

The website says volunteers meet at the ranch each Sunday to help women and children who have been abused. The Canada Revenue Agency lists the ranch as a registered charity.

In 2015, the most recent year listed, the ranch earned $17,343 in revenue. It listed "other" expenses of $16,695, with 0 per cent going to charitable programs.

In 2014, the ranch reported $34,403 in revenue, $16,838 in "other" expenses, and 0 per cent given to charitable programs.

In 2013, the ranch reported $27,150 in revenue, $27,150 in expenses, with $16,176 going to charitable programs.

In 2012, the year the ranch opened, it reported $23,966 in revenue, with $37,301 in expenses and $29,787 spent on charitable programs.

now