Posts Tagged ‘April Stewart’

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Home wreckers


Her rental property damaged by her former tenants, owner Nancy Lowe is now trying to repair the damaged and receiving little help from authorities or her insurance. Nancy looks though one of the several broken windows left by her former tenants.

Nancy Lowe can only describe her house as a pigsty.

Walking into her rental property on Campbell Avenue the day after her tenants left, Lowe discovered damage to every room in the house.

“There’s stains everywhere, there’s holes in all the walls, it looks like they had anger management issues and punched holes in the walls and doors,” she said, shaking her head as she surveyed the damage.

Lowe bought the house in the Barrie’s central neighbourhood in June 2009 as a rental property.

She was impressed with the brand-new carpets, new hardwood floors and fresh paint job.

To keep her heating costs down, she put on a new steel tile roof and began interviewing prospective tenants.

After meeting the parents of one young man and calling the young woman’s boss, she felt she’d done due diligence and let the three friends move in.

While monthly payments weren’t the issue, a few incidents she now considers red flags cross her mind as she remembers the year.

Once, her husband dropped by the house after a large snowfall and had to tell the tenants not to snowboard off the roof of the old garage.

Another time, Mitch Martin, the upstairs tenant, called her about the destructive noises coming from below.

“It sounded like they had a couple of brawls,” said Martin, 29, who lived in the apartment above the tenants for the full year.


There was confusion over the thermostat levels and blown fuses a few times that weren’t a big deal, he said.

However, loud music caused enough of a disturbance, the next door neighbour called the police on several occasions, he said.

“You don’t put your nose into other people’s business,” said Martin.

But when he heard a loud crash as if something was smashed against the basement door — he shares the stairwell and the sounds travels — he felt compelled to call the landlord.

The hole in the basement door suggests he might be right.

Lowe’s complaints — while some are simple wear and tear from a bit more than gentle use of the floors and carpets — stem from the three broken windows, a toilet that was rarely if ever cleaned, and huge gouges out of the enamel on the bathroom tub.

Fortunately, she said, she has before and after photos that show the extremely clean condition before the tenants moved in.

A walk through the central Barrie house now shows ripped tiles, a six-inch ragged hole made through a kitchen cupboard into a bedroom for an extension cord, and broken kitchen patio doors; Lowe can put her fingers through the broken frame.

Lowe complained to Barrie police regarding the destruction of her property, but there’s little they can do.

Const. Toni Dufour said there’s not enough evidence to lay a charge.

“We did contact one of the tenants, who said the damage was done by an unknown person — there’s been several parties since he moved in — but unless there’s a witness, we can’t lay charges,” said Dufour.

Her advice to the landlord is follow up in a civil court of law.

However, Landlord Legal owner April Stewart said she’s literally got binders full of judgments she hasn’t been able to collect on.

“You can’t get blood from a stone,” said Stewart.

The local paralegal said the services she’s created to assist landlords collect from destructive or non-paying tenants has kept her running off her feet trying to collect outstanding money owed to landlords.

“I want to stress, this isn’t necessarily a problem with 20- year-olds. I’ve seen just as many adults, right up to 60, who are irresponsible. And they’re enabled by this legislation.”

The biggest problem is the current landlord tenant act favours the tenant, she said.

Police can’t always prove mischief, or the tenant may even have a previous eviction notice, but the sheriff can’t legally tell a prospective landlord about it.

“There’s no freedom of information about this. There’s nothing in the system to protect the landlord,” she said.

In the future, Stewart said, when a landlord is approached by younger renters, ask the parents to act as guarantors for their children. Perform a credit check; it will show if a tenant has bounced cheques. And, ask to see photo identification; some renters will use a family member’s ID if they know a sibling has a better credit history.

“Visit in the first 30 days to see how they live,” said Stewart.

Landlords are required to give 24-hour written notice, but regular drop-ins are worth it.

Last month, a new tenant moved into the house on Campbell Avenue

He’s put up posters to cover the worst of the damage, steam-cleaned the carpets and carried the majority of the last owners refuse out to the garage — or just thrown it out for the trash.

He said he’s rented quite a few apartments, but “never saw anything as bad as this.

“I’m a patient man, I don’t mind waiting for her to fix this,” said the new tenant, who requested that his name not be used. “It’s not her fault, but it’s her responsibility to fix it.”

Ontario’s landlord and tenant process is broken

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Ottawa Citizen November 22, 2010

Re: The Shame Of St. Patrick St., Nov. 14.

I am the owner of Landlord Legal, a small firm in Barrie, working to keep up with landlords in need.

Thank you for your efforts in exposing the reality of the eviction process.

So often, landlords bring these applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board and lack witnesses because of fear of retaliation. Police can’t assist in matters that are still “open investigations.”

Lacking witnesses and police records, the applications fail, or we must instead find other, safer applications to the board such as rent arrears or damages to the unit, instead of the biggest reason: the rental unit is a crack house, and other tenants are disrupted and endangered.

It is incredibly difficult to terminate tenancies in this province. The Landlord is held to an onerous burden of proof. The tenant is often enabled and in fact encouraged to drag things out.

These stories are taking place all over Ontario, every day. The Landlord and Tenant Board is profiting from the misfortune of the residential landlord, and turns a blind eye to repeat offender tenants, who make a mockery of the process.

Right out of the gate, the landlord loses. It costs $170 to bring a tenant to the board, while tenants pay $45 to bring a landlord to the board.

Affordable housing in this province will continue to decline as private residential landlords realize they have bitten off more than they intended to chew.

C. April Stewart, Landlord Legal

Results from the Bedbug Summit II

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Recommendations and Strategies:

Arising from the Bed Bug Summit at Queen’s Park,
held on September 29, 2010,
to help Combat, Control and Contain Bed Bug Infestations in our Communities and Our Province

By:  MPP Mike Colle

1.       Province-Wide Public Education and Public Awareness Campaign

A successful strategy in the fight against Bed Bugs requires the  cooperation of everyone, including all levels of government, public and private stakeholders, and the public at large.

A province-wide public education and public awareness campaign should be developed by the Province of Ontario, to ensure the public is aware of ways in which  they can identify, prevent, and control Bed Bug infestation.

The Provincial Government should develop a public education campaign in partnership with local public health agencies, local municipalities, local school  boards, local transit authorities, hospitals, private sector partners in housing, and the  hospitality industry.

Brochures, advertisements, public transit and public service announcements, in multiple languages, should be distributed to the public at large, which includes information on how to identify, prevent and control Bed Bugs.

Information kits should be made available to landlords, schools, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and public and private facilities such as hotels, motels, libraries,  and so forth, that may be susceptible to Bed Bug infestations.

The public awareness campaign should include a wide use of online resources such as websites and social media.

An information hotline must also be created, where residents can call to report Bed Bug infestations or express any questions or concerns.   This province-wide public education and public awareness campaign, should
contain consistent messaging across the Province, in clear, plain English, that the general public can easily understand.

2.        Scientific Base Line Study to Examine the Causes and Effects of  Bed Bug Infestations in Ontario

The Province should establish a panel of experts, to determine what the safest and most effective practices are to control and prevent Bed Bug infestations,  (i.e. examining the safety and effectiveness of various chemicals and strategies such  as the use of heat and cold treatment), and the effectiveness of home remedies.

3.        Review of Provincial Legislation

The Province should undertake a review of legislation, such as the Landlord and Tenant Act, the Municipal Licensing Act, Ontario Works Legislation, and the Occupational Health Act, to determine whether steps have to be taken to ensure that these Provincial Laws are compatible with the initiatives needed to combat Bed Bugs.

4.        Focused Training of Public Service

The Province should ensure that relevant Public Servants are given the proper orientation and background in order to better deal with Bed Bug infestation, and how  they can partner in providing solutions and proper protocols to prevent  infestations throughout their Ministry or Agency.

5.        Federal Government Action Required

The Federal Government needs to undertake a national overview in tracking the  infestation of Bed Bugs across the country.   The Federal Government should examine the possibility of establishing new procedures, at various border crossings, to ensure that proper protocols and inspections are undertaken to stop the importation of Bed Bugs into Canada.

There needs to be an audit undertaken of possible sources of cross border  infestation, such as the importation of used vehicles, furniture, and clothing.  While the more obvious vehicles (i.e. trucks delivering mattresses, furniture,
and clothing) should be inspected, other delivery vehicles should also be inspected to ensure Bed Bugs are not being transported within vehicles (such as moving vans and used vehicles).

6.        Partnership with Local Public Health Units

The Province should partner with local public health units, to track the existence of infestations throughout the Province.   The Province should also partner with local public health units, every Residential health and social service agency, public agencies in hospitals, hotels,  motels, hostels, schools, long-term care facilities, and local Community Care Access Centres (CCAC’s), to establish better training and awareness, and to establish better front line containment and prevention strategies in high risk areas.

7.        Funding and Support for Non-Profit Housing Providers

The Province should undertake to provide funding and support for Housing Providers, in their efforts to contain and combat infestations in acute and serious cases, where immediate intervention is warranted.  This intervention could be modeled in a pilot project that would replicate the Extreme Cleaning currently being practiced by some of the social service providers in the City of Toronto.

8.       Comprehensive Strategy to Deal with our Most Vulnerable

A comprehensive strategy to deal with our most vulnerable residents should be  established.   The Province needs to establish a series of strategies that will support  vulnerable individuals that reside in assisted public housing that, through no fault of  their own, have been infested with Bed Bugs and are unable to cope, due to a mental
or physical disability, age, frailty, lack of financial resources, or lack of support to deal with the infestation.

There needs to be a coordinated strategy employed, that would include public health nurses, public health agencies, social service agencies (such as Woodgreen Community Services and St. Clair West Services for Seniors), to work hand in hand with public housing providers.   The Province should also find ways to fund treatment and cleaning of Bed
Bugs for vulnerable and low-income residents.  There is a need for expert intensive case management to assist people in  preparing homes for treatment, recovering from treatment, and avoiding repeat outbreaks. High Support Case Management for vulnerable individuals is required in order to attend to their needs.

9.   Need for  Provincial Coordination

The Province (either through the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing),  needs to ensure that all government ministries and their resources are made available in this battle against Bed Bug infestation.   A designated office should provide coordination and information sharing for all  parts of government that might be helpful in dealing with this challenge.

This central office could be established to focus on the immediate actions  needed to contain this infestation, and to recommend long-term strategies, and  long-term actions required to prevent and control Bed Bug infestation.

The designation of an individual (or individuals), to oversee this office and co-ordinate a provincial response is essential.

10.   Establishment of a Private Sector “Roundtable Partnership”

The Province should help establish a private sector “Roundtable Partnership”,  to see how the private sector might be able to support the local governments, and the Provincial Government, in their efforts to combat Bed Bugs.

The private sector might be asked to contribute support in providing products (i.e. mattress covers, discounted furniture, and vacuum cleaners) to those of low  income, who are unable to deal with the high costs associated with Bed Bug  Infestation.

11.  Establishment of an Expert Panel of Scientists

The Province should establish an expert panel of scientists from both within government and outside of government, to advise and support government scientists and public health experts who are engaged in Bed Bug infestation control,
containment, and combat.   This panel needs to ensure there is a national and international intervention and best practices regime established for ongoing state of the art remedies.

12.   Establishment of Best Practices for Pest Control

The Province, in cooperation with Pest Control experts, should determine the best method model for pest control protocols. There needs to be coordination, and an effort to work with pest control experts, to develop ongoing best practices (and the safest strategies), in dealing with infestations.  Training, and possible certification of
qualified individuals to deal with Bed Bugs is also recommended.

There needs to be an effort to eliminate delays and confusion in the approval of safe chemicals to fight Bed Bug infestation.   A full scale Integrated Pest Management System needs to be developed and shared with all professional pest management stakeholders.

13.   Long-Term Sealing, Caulking, Scrubbing Program

There needs to be implementation of a long-term sealing, caulking, scrubbing program, that would be established as a possible standard for all Public Health Agencies, in cooperation with public housing providers and other residential housing providers

14.  Examination of Over the Counter Chemicals

Over the Counter sales of chemicals to the general public should be examined and evaluated for their safety and effectiveness.

15.   Role for Our Schools in Expanding Awareness

All school boards should undertake a public awareness campaign through parents, teachers, and students, to educate them on the control and hazards of Bed Bug infestations.

16.   Strategy for Seniors

There needs to be an organized outreach program undertaken by the Province,  in cooperation with municipal authorities, that focuses on the special needs of our Seniors and the strategies that could be employed to help vulnerable seniors deal with Bed Bug infestations.

17.   Review Building Code Guidelines and Procedures for New  Construction and Renovations

Possible new building practices should be examined (especially for multi-resident homes), that would help in preventing future infestations. These  practices should also be applied to building renovations, so that any renovations would be completed in a manner that would help prevent Bed Bug infestations from spreading (i.e. possible use of diatomaceous earth).

18.   Establish Best Practices for Waste Disposal Protocols

Best Practices for Waste Disposal Protocols should be established, especially in the case of items such as mattresses, used furniture, clothing, and toys. The General Public should be warned on the risks associated with bringing used items into their homes or places of employment, without proper cleaning and disinfection.

19.   Used Goods Warnings

Clear, identifiable warnings need to be placed on household items (such as mattresses, furniture, toys, and clothing), which have been discarded because of Bed Bug infestation. Perhaps the use of a simple large orange “X” might be

20.   Minimum Standard Benchmarks and Protocols for Schools

There should be minimum set of standards set in place, highlighting  benchmarks in schools, day care centres, colleges and universities, in the identification, control, and methodology used in dealing with Bed Bug infestation.


Thank you to all who attended the Bed Bug Summit at Queen’s Park, and who made their most helpful contributions.

It is imperative that all sectors of society engage in a comprehensive and  co-operative effort to fight Bed Bug infestation.  The longer we delay in taking a leadership role, the more difficult and costly it will be to stem the spread of
infestation, and the more severe the negative health and economic impacts of Bed  Bugs will be on the people of Ontario.