Times Colonist

Scam­mer land­lord gets house ar­rest

30 vic­tims handed over dam­age de­posits for al­ready-rented suite

- SAN­DRA McCUL­LOCH sm­c­cul­loch@tc.canwest.com

A Saanich woman who scammed 30 vic­tims through a bo­gus apart­ment-rental scheme was sen­tenced yes­ter­day to house-ar­rest for 12 months, fol­lowed by three years’ pro­ba­tion.

Char­maine Roy, 48, is banned un­der the terms of the con­di­tional sen­tence from tak­ing part in any rental or real-es­tate trans­ac­tions. She can only leave her home dur­ing one four-hour win­dow each week.

While Roy sobbed as she told the court Mon­day she was sorry for her crimes, Judge Adrian Brooks said yes­ter­day that her re­morse didn’t ring true: “It was as phony as the rental agree­ments she signed.”

Roy and her hus­band rent a house on Fern­dale Road for $2,800 a month and have per­mis­sion from the owner to sub­let a secondary suite. The two-bed­room suite was ad­ver­tised on the In­ter­net for $875 to $900 a month and at­tracted many in­quiries from Uni­ver­sity of Vic­to­ria stu­dents.

The suite was, in fact, oc­cu­pied by a long-term ten­ant with no in­ten­tion of mov­ing out. Still, while the ten­ant was not home, Roy showed the unit to prospec­tive ten­ants and had them sign rental agree­ments in ex­change for cash dam­age de­posits of $425 to $475.

Many ex­pressed sur­prise at the “sur­pris­ingly low” rent, said pros­e­cu­tor Bar­bara Penty. Roy told them “she knew what it was like to be a poor stu­dent and she liked to help peo­ple out,” said Penty ear­lier.

Roy would not ac­cept per­sonal cheques, say­ing “she had been burned in the past,” said Penty.

A day or two be­fore the would-be ten­ants were due to take pos­ses­sion, Roy would con­tact them to say the suite was un­avail­able, cit­ing a range of ex­cuses: there had been a sui­cide in the suite, a fire had bro­ken out, her mother had died, or peo­ple in the dwelling were suf­fer­ing from H1N1.

In some cases, ten­ants were en route with their be­long­ings when they got word the suite was no longer avail­able. Roy promised to re­turn dam­age de­posits but only re­turned one, keep­ing the re­main­ing $13,600.

Brooks also sen­tenced Roy on two counts of breach­ing a court or­der for tak­ing more dam­age de­posits af­ter she was re­leased from cus­tody. She was handed a day in jail plus the 56 days she’s been in­car­cer­ated, un­able to make $5,000 bail, as well as three years’ pro­ba­tion.

Out­side court, Penty said she was “not dis­pleased” with Brooks’s de­ci­sion. “I think Miss Roy is go­ing to have a dif­fi­cult next year com­ply­ing with all the terms he has placed her on.”

The case serves as a cau­tion­ary tale for peo­ple looking to rent apart­ments, said the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, Const. Kath­leen Brandsma of Saanich po­lice. “Never, ever, ever leave cash with any­one,” she said out­side court, ad­vis­ing ten­ants to knock on neigh­bours’ doors and ask about a prospec­tive land­lord.

 ??  ?? Char­maine Roy: tears in court dis­missed as phoney.
Char­maine Roy: tears in court dis­missed as phoney.

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