In the past two weeks, I have received over 73 similar stories from tenants who have been lied to and defrauded by real estate agents and brokers working with landlords from China and other countries hiding and disguising themselves while they rent out houses that are in dire need of repair. This particular tenant is an 80 year old man who rented a house in Richmond Hill that needed some repairs and was promised by the real estate agent who is a member of a respected real estate firm in Toronto that all the repairs will be fixed by the date that possession was guaranteed in writing.
What the tenant did not know and could not see, because of heavy snow on the roof was that the complete roof needed repairs and was damaged to such an extent that water was leaking into the rooms and into the garage. What turned out to be dirty carpets was actually water damage and mould in two bedrooms, basement, plus the pipes from the toilets on the second floor were cracked and needed to be replaced due to the fact that sewage was coming into the main floor causing a discolouring on the ceiling and a horrible smell.
However, let us return to the front of the "storybook" as on the day the tenant is moving in with two trucks loaded with furniture on March 11, 2019 and the real estate agent shows up 2 hours after the trucks arrive and turns over the keys to the house; but there are no keys to the garage entrance from the house nor keys to the back door of the house. "SURPRISE"!! No repairs were conducted and the house was a filthy mess. The tenant almost had a heart attack and started calling the real estate agent who turned off his cellular phone. The following day the real estate agent, who we will refer to as TONY responded by cell phone and assured the tenant that all the repairs will be conduct; however, the tenant must move out for two weeks with the furniture and stay in a hotel at their own expense.
The tenant had paid $15,000.00 for movers; $5.800.00 for first and last month rent plus $2,000.00 deposit if any damages were caused by the tenant. "WHAT A SCAM"!! The tenant refused to move and demanded the refund immediately; but Tony asserted that he had already paid the landlord and he will refuse to return any money. Tony claimed "that the landlord is 18 years old and does not understand business in Canada and of course he thinks like a man from China", which I understood.
The lights in the basement did not work and upon close inspection with a flashlight; the tenant found mould growing in the basement and water leakage on the floor. Over the period of four years, the tenant, his wife and daughter found out that inhaling or touching mold or mold spores can cause a person to become allergic to mold. Molds can trigger asthma symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough in people with known allergies. People who do not have allergies can also become irritated. All three have now developed major symptoms of asthma, depression, various allergies and consistent coughing.
The tenant describes his "Little House of Horrors" and attempted to make the repairs himself; however, the landlord refused to refund any money. The tenant tried to serve the landlord in China with notice, but mail was returned. Tony kept lying and fabricating stories and finally refused to accept any calls or meet with the tenant.
In August of 2021 the Landlord deleted his eMail address and demanded that cash be submitted to his girlfriend who lives in Toronto or he will accept digital currency; such as, Bitcoin, which is readily accepted in China and Canada Revenue Agency cannot monitor. It seems that the Landlord with the help of the real estate firm has been avoiding in paying any income taxes from receiving rent money on over 15 properties his family owns in Ontario. In fact Tony confirmed that the landlord owns "much houses" in Canada. The tenant agreed to transfer crypto currency to the landlord and to his crypto expert agent.
To this date none of the major repairs were ever conducted, and now the landlord claims that he was not been paid rent and is using extortion methods to obtain blackmail money in using Tony again and a Para Legal who refuses to meet with the tenant who has all the receipts for rent payment.
Thinking of leasing an apartment or house in Canada; be alert to the following;
1. Where does the landlord live?
2. Is he/she is in China?
3. Insert in the lease concerning maintenance and repairs?
4. Conduct an inspection 3 days before moving?
5. Make sure that the real estate agent/broker is reputable?
6. Make sure that the realtor is completely versed in English?
If you have any issues with the landlord, immediately file with the Landlord and Tenant Board and do not accept fake excuses by the landlord and do not withhold your monthly, because that will create another problem and issue for the tenant. If the situation and issues are of a criminal nature, contact law enforcement and file a complaint.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner – Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Zev Mahler – Financial Crime Consultant