Posts Tagged ‘ODSP’

When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 2)

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

When things go wrong don’t expect any help from the government

July 2011

Late payments, a mountain of garbage building up, the tenants lying about us going through their personal things, strangers coming in and out of the property through the windows, the police monitoring the property…it was getting to be too much!I knew I needed to take a step back and hire professional help.

Fortunately through the Ontario Landlords Association I knew where I could find good help.  I contacted John Schutten from a local property management firm called Ready4Rent and asked him to take over.

John gave proper notice and did his initial inspection of the property.  He went in and inspected for any maintenance or safety issues and took photos.  Like so many unruly tenants who have no respect either for the property or their own safety John found they had removed all the smoke alarms, were storing motorcycles in the house, had ripped off all the screens from the window and the place was a mess!

As a true professional, John communicated with the tenants and gave them an opportunity to change their behavior and start following some maintenance and safety rules.  The result?  They didn’t listen, continued to ignore the rules and continued their destruction of my property.

John had asked me what I wanted to do- I said I wanted them out.  I couldn’t trust them, I was suspicious of their drug activities, the place was becoming a fire-trap, they were wrecking my once beautiful home…I wanted them gone.

Since the Fall I was getting the rent paid by Ontario Works (welfare) every month.  On March 1 the money stopped.  No direct payment.  Not a cent.  I immediately contacted the welfare fraud department.  A while later I received a call from their case worker.  This case worker was different than the one I spoke to in the Fall.

She wouldn’t tell me very much because she said her hands were tied by the Privacy Act.  I told her the tenants were paying me via Ontario Works with a direct cheque, and it suddenly stopped.  The tenants were doing something else with their welfare check.  She told me this was not a fraud situation.  Tenants on welfare are able to stop their check going directly to the landlord with a quick phone call.  She said fraud was only for situations where the welfare recipient was working under the table, claiming other people under them, etc.

I asked the case worker, “So you are telling me that failure to pay rent with the shelter allowance part of a welfare check isn’t fraud?” The rent portion of their cheque is a shelter allowance, and these tenants were spending it on things other than for shelter!

I asked her what happens if they don’t pay rent and I report it.  She told me she could hold back the cheques until they produce a rent receipt.  I asked her “what happens if they produce a fake receipt?”  She answered it was not her job to decipher whether or not a receipt is fake or not!  She also said the tenants might be using up their last month’s rent and might move out.  My fingers were crossed!

After I finished with the case worker I felt very suspicious the tenants were going to issue a fake rent receipt so they could keep getting their shelter allowance while living in my house rent free.  I emailed the Ministry of Social Services explaining my situation and looking for help.  Here’s the response I got back:

“Thank you for your e-mail to the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding your tenant.

When a tenant who is receiving social assistance is not paying rent, the local Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offices may direct part of a social assistance recipient’s assistance to a third party, such as a landlord or utility company in order to cover rent or utility costs. These pay direct arrangements may remain in effect until it is evident that the recipient is able to manage their financial assistance.

A pay direct arrangement is purely an administrative arrangement that does not change the landlord-tenant relationship or any existing legal obligations. In particular, under this administrative arrangement, the Ministry of Community and Social Services does not take on any of the tenant’s legal or financial obligations.”

And here was my response…..

“I am most insulted with this lame reply.

I am not the first landlord to tell you about the scamming that is going on with regards to tenants having their cheques redirected to themselves only to turn around and use that money for other uses other than its intended purpose- which is to pay for the necessary rent.

Your hands-off approach, with the “it’s a landlord-tenant problem” is getting real old and tiresome.

This email is completely unacceptable as a response…you are the welfare fraud department- THIS IS WELFARE FRAUD!

What does a tenant have to do before they are investigated or charged with misappropriation of funds?

Perhaps the welfare fraud department is really just  a make-work project by the current liberal government who treat landlords as second-class citizens? I realize with these types of comments such as yours, there are no real efforts to stop this complete waste of taxpayers money.    I will forward this email on to the appropriate people.”

My head was spinning over the situation.  Not only were the tenants wrecking my house, potentially doing illegal activities, the police involved, …I was facing months of them living there rent-free!  The government didn’t care and was on the tenants side!

I began to investigate how OW and OPSP really work in Ontario.  Here is what I found out:

-A welfare or ODSP recipient can have their cheques redirected back to themselves at any time with one simple phone call requiring no explanation whatsoever!

-If the pay-direct cheque is coming to you, and it comes late, OW will NOT even confirm to say whether or not the cheque is in the mail!

-If the cheques stop coming, and the tenant goes into rental arrears, the case worker nor welfare fraud department does not care, and will always have the landlord eat the costs

-It has also happened where the tenant did NOT ask for the cheques to be stopped going to the landlord, yet the tenant received the cheque because the case worker made a mistake- too bad, so sad for the landlord, right?!

-Many welfare recipients have more than one address and cheques go to many of these addresses- yet again OW and welfare fraud turn a blind eye!

-Even after the tenant moves out, sometimes the cheques keep coming- yet again no clue for welfare administration – no checks and balances

-Case workers do NOT check with the landlord to validate any information, a tenant can say they are moving out, when they haven’t, and OW has the right to put a stop payment on a pay direct rent cheque- no warning to the landlord of course!

-Welfare fraud department will not follow up with landlord who has reported welfare fraud

I was learning fast. 

Thank God, because things were about to take another turn.  The tenants said they might agree to move…or maybe not….

I think my tenant is committing OW / ODSP fraud – Who do I call?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Who Do I call if I think my tenant is committing Welfare Fraud?

The Welfare Fraud Hot Line number is available for the public to report suspected cases of Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program fraud.

Callers can remain anonymous.

Callers will be asked for the name and address and, if possible, the phone number of the person who may be cheating. Suspected cases may be reported by telephoning 1.800.394.7867

Do you agree with the Liberal Minister of Community and Social Services?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011



Landlords have rights

By Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Ottawa Citizen January 20, 2011

Re: The Public Citizen: New landlord discovers tenants have cards stacked in their favour, Jan. 16.

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) was created to help people with disabilities to become more independent and live with dignity — something our government takes seriously. However we do not tolerate fraud or the misuse of funds for illegal purposes and I encourage everyone to report such a practice to the proper authorities.

Our government also takes tenant safety seriously, which is why we changed the Residential Tenancies Act to make it easier to evict persons whose actions pose a serious threat. Under the Act, grounds for eviction based on the behaviour or actions of a tenant include damage to a unit and involvement in illegal activity.

Every tenant in Ontario is subject to the same rules regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or whether the tenant is a social-assistance recipient. I would imagine this case is indeed following those rules set out by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur,

Minister of Community and Social Services

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Landlords+have+rights/4135873/story.html#ixzz1BczSCacR

Landlords get a bad deal when it comes to bad tenants

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

By Hugh Adami, Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2010

Why would anyone want to be a small landlord when there is little protection in Ontario from bad tenants?

Take Mike and Cathy Clarmo, who live in the Osgoode community of Edwards. The only way they could get a tenant to leave their rental property was with a cash payout of $3,000. And that was after 4½ years of watching the house’s resale value plummet because of their tenants’ neglect.

Their problems all started because the Clarmos couldn’t say no to an acquaintance who wanted to rent the three-bedroom bungalow they purchased in 2004. The Clarmos had just finished renovating the house when the man — a childhood friend of one of their sons — showed up at their doorstep in the spring of 2005. The couple had been planning to sell the property, which was just down the street from their home, and hoping for a $20,000-to-$25,000 profit to put toward retirement. Mike explained their plans, but the man persisted. He needed a place for his wife and children.

Mike said OK, figuring he would make some of the investment back in rent, and sell later, when the house was sure to be worth more.

Instead, cracks started appearing in their nest egg soon after the family moved in. “It broke our hearts to see the condition of the house deteriorate as it did,” says Cathy.

Probably the worst thing was that the house constantly reeked of animal urine.

The family had a dog, cat and rabbit. Drywall and floors were damaged. The garage was so cluttered that the couple was sure there was a fire risk.

Photos they took also show the front yard of the home littered with junk, including car parts such as engines and tires. The woman, who drove a school bus, damaged the eavestroughing after backing the vehicle into the house, Mike says. Rent was often late.

The Clarmos decided to sell the property after a business deal went sour. In April 2009, they gave the tenants more than two months of notice to vacate.

The tenants offered to buy the house “as is” for a reduced price. The Clarmos agreed. But the tenants couldn’t get a mortgage. The Clarmos abandoned their plan to sell after the husband approached Mike and tearfully told him he couldn’t find another house to rent.

A year later, they planned again to sell the house. But the husband, whose wife was no longer living with him, told Mike he was now well versed in tenants’ rights. He wasn’t going to move, and if Mike wanted to terminate the tenancy, he would have to go before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Mike did so twice. He says he came away convinced that as the landlord, he was considered the bad guy.

At the first hearing, Mike spoke with a mediator, who suggested he allow his tenant to stay at the house rent-free for five months with the condition that he move by the end of this month. The man’s lawyer suggested that Mike could get him out by the end of October if he gave him a few thousand dollars on top of free rent for three months. Mike refused. He recalls the lawyer telling him that he would regret his decision as he was bound to lose the case.

Mike produced photos that he had taken of the house at the first hearing. The adjudicator joked about the one of the cluttered garage. “‘It looks like my garage,’” Mike recalls him saying. In his written decision, adjudicator Greg Joy dismisses or challenges every complaint made by the landlord.

The Clarmos found a prospective buyer for the home soon after and again applied to have the tenancy agreement terminated by Nov. 1, which was also the closing date of the sale.

The adjudicator in the second hearing reserved his decision, which allowed the tenant to stay put for at least the time being.

Mike’s lawyer suggested they give the tenant $2,000 to get out of the house. The tenant’s lawyer then came back with another figure — $3,000 — plus the demand that his client be allowed to stay until Nov. 15. Worried the board could rule in favour of the tenant and that the prospective buyers of the house would pull out of the deal, Mike agreed.

The former tenant would not return my calls.

The $3,000, which the couple feels was extortion, plus $1,400 in legal fees and $1,000 to refill the home’s oil tank are the smaller losses. The Clarmos did sell the house for $240,000 — about $25,000 more than what it cost them to buy and renovate the property in 2004. But the selling price was still a far cry from the $290,000 to $300,000 a real estate broker had told them the house would have been worth.

The Clarmos don’t know if they should be angrier with their tenants or the board.

They realize the board exists primarily to protect tenants, and with children, their tenant was bound to get even more sympathy. But, they say, their case illustrates the need for rules to protect the good landlords.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Landlords+deal+when+comes+tenants/4000351/story.html#ixzz18dUrkiwP