As a REALTOR®, I have clients regularly interested in purchasing revenue properties. A concern they often have is about the rights they hold as landlords and those of their potential tenants, as well as what they would do if an issue arose with a tenant. Thankfully there are a lot of resources & organizations that can answer these and other questions held by landlords or those looking to own revenue properties. Organizations are available to assist with protecting those involved in a rental agreement.
While there are many positive landlord-tenant stories, recently one less-than-ideal situation came into the spotlight. The last week of September saw media vans and crews driving around Parkdale & West Hillhurst covering the Freemen-on-the-land situation.
‘Freemen on the land’ are people who claim that all statute law is contractual, and that such law is applicable only if an individual consents to be governed by it. They believe that they can therefore declare themselves independent of government jurisdiction, holding that the only “true” law is common law, as they define it.
This is allegedly what happened when a man moved into Rebekah Caverhill’s West Hillhurst rental property in 2011, offering to exchange some home improvements to the property for three months worth of rent. Two years later, he was still living there, paid no rent, changed the locks, put a lien on the property, largely damaged the home and was claiming it as his embassy, all the while having no formal rental agreement with Caverhill.
While the Freedmen-on-the-land incident was an extreme case of a landlord-tenant dispute, these types of issues do occur more often than one would imagine. With a vacancy rate recently described by Mayor Nenshi as “… as close to zero as you can humanly get,” there are many issues that could arise when owning a revenue property.
A landlord could take a variety of steps with potential tenants in an attempt to ensure all parties involved are informed and protected. Here is a sampling of a few of the steps available:
- Do reference checks on all applicants being considered
- Have an enforceable Residential Tenancy Agreement in place with all people residing on the property
- Understand the Residential Tenancies Act, as it pertains to both landlords & tenant
Again, this is a list of just a few tactics. When in doubt, always ask an expert. I suggest to my clients who are considering purchasing revenue property to contact several rental organizations and ensure they are as informed as they can be before taking that next step. There are several organizations and services available to Calgarians that can provide further information ~ here are a few:
- Service Alberta
- The Calgary Residential Rental Association
- Alberta Landords Association
- Canadian Rental Association
- Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations
When in doubt, contact your lawyer for their advice and guidance!