Ottawa Citizen

LANDLORD PROMISES TO REFUND EXTRA SECURITY

Only deposit that can be collected is final month’s rent, adjudicato­r rules

- HUGH ADAMI Is something bothering you? Please contact: thepublicc­itizen@ottawaciti­zen.com

The Montreal-based landlord of several Ottawa apartment buildings violated the Ontario Residentia­l Tenancies Act by collecting an extra $1,475 deposit from two former roommates, on top of their last month’s rent.

Caitlin Thibeault and her exroommate, who did not want to be identified, say they took Multi Res Management — the propertyma­nagement wing of Golden Equity Properties in Montreal — before the Landlord and Tenant Board because they feared the landlord wasn’t going to return the money when they vacated the apartment.

Multi Res Management said this week it intends to comply with the Dec. 3 order from Landlord and Tenant Board adjudicato­r Greg Joy, a silver medallist in high jump at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Joy ruled that collecting such a deposit is prohibited and ordered Multi Res Management to refund the $1,475 plus interest, as well as the $45 the two paid to take the matter to the board. Under Ontario’s Residentia­l Tenancies Act, the only deposit a landlord can collect from a new tenant is their last month’s rent.

Thibeault went to Ontario small claims court to try to have the order enforced. But because Ontario doesn’t have a reciprocal enforcemen­t agreement with Quebec as it does with the other provinces and territorie­s, and the Golden Equity/Multi Res office is in Montreal, Ontario’s small claims court couldn’t help.

The two say Multi Res asked them for the extra month’s rent for a unit at 250-254 Cooper St. as a form of security on their one-year lease because only one of them worked while the other attended school. They say they agreed and moved in Nov. 1, 2013.

But Cathy Pichette of Multi Res Management, which looks after Golden Equity Properties in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, says it was the two tenants who offered the extra month’s rent as a form of security. Pichette says the landlord did not want to lease the unit to them because it anticipate­d payment problems and they could not provide a co-signer. She says the two were anxious to find a place and so when they offered the additional deposit, Multi Res obliged.

“Their option was to walk away,” says Pichette. “We didn’t force them.”

The two ex-roommates deny they came up with the propositio­n.

Near the end of their lease last fall, they say Multi Res threatened not to return the deposit because they refused at times to allow the rental agent to show the unit to prospectiv­e tenants and therefore lost the chance to rent it out immediatel­y after they moved on Nov. 30.

Thibeault says she turned down requests from the rental agent on maybe a couple of occasions because she was given short notice and needed to be present because she had a dog. She says she feared her dog would “freak out” if strangers entered the apartment with no one at home.

But Pichette says “there was a lot more than that,” including damage caused when a closet wall was removed. She also says they stayed longer than they were supposed to and didn’t pay rent for that period. That’s why the landlord held onto the deposit, she says, to determine what the two owed.

Thibeault says they moved out when they were supposed to, on Nov. 30, and the landlord never mentioned any damage to them. She says nothing was altered in the unit. Thibeault has an email she sent to Multi Res, giving the company two months notice of their intention to move at the end of November.

This week, Thibeault’s exroommate says Multi Res promised that they will be reimbursed in two payments, with a first cheque being sent next month. Meanwhile, three per cent annual interest continues to accrue.

Pichette confirmed that payment has been promised. She could not say why it is being paid in two instalment­s. She also said the landlord still had intentions to try to recover any money the ex-tenants owed, but later backed off that claim.

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