Do Rent Thieves Retire? James Regan Looking For New Digs

January 25th, 2018 · Property Management, Rental Property

This is a letter I received this morning from a friend of the blog about our friend James Regan.

Hi Rachelle,

Hope you are well. Been awhile since I posted any comments or sought your wisdom. But I do enjoy reading your articles and find them very helpful. I did want to let you know of a recent experience (yesterday) while entertaining a prospective Tenant(s), who actually has been profiled by the CBC and how I allegedly almost may have became the next victim. You are probably familiar with the individual and goes by the name James Regan and his cohort uses the name Chris with mobile numbers (647) ***-2309 and (416)***-1484. Hopefully my experience will help some readers steer clear of potential Rent thieves and I will try to explain some of the mistakes I made while speaking to him and his cohort. Remember this guy is a professional and will come across very genuine and articulate and he will try to squeeze personal information out from you to use against you and hopefully gain your trust. He almost had me convinced but he and his cohort did make a mistake and I cancelled the initial meeting and not to mention I was worried about my and my family’s safety.

1.  They will ask if you are a real estate agent or property manager or owner.

I told them owner and I think I might have stated I co-owned with my wife. Their response was “Good! I hate dealing with real estate agents and property managers” I probably should have asked him why? And in reality even though I own, I am still a property manager. So initially it may be best to just state you are a property manager and leave it at that and see how that goes. But this is definitely a red flag now for me.

2. He wanted to know what else we did beside rent and if we had other jobs.

The mistake I made is I did tell him “yes” which is okay but never ever say who you work for or what you do especially who your spouse works for. It is not even important at the pre-preliminary stage. He was so slick he mentioned how he did work for my spouses employer on the insurance side and new the VP etc. Even mentioned a name..How would I know anyways?? Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, who gives a shit? But I believed it at that point.

3. He wanted to see the unit and so I told him evenings would work better after 7pm. He wanted to come earlier during the day.

The mistake I made I told him I had children and they have to be picked up from school. What made me cringe later, he had asked me where they went to school. Luckily I didn’t give the school name but just the city. Even that line of questioning makes no sense to me and I should have ended the call. But initially he also did say he was a retired school teacher and now working part time in law (As a tenant being evicted at the LTB?)  so maybe that’s why I didn’t question him on that point. But definitely a predatory question to ask someone you don’t know or even know. My advice keep your family safe at all costs during this process. Do not divulge anything to anyone about your personal life when you are interviewing anyone. Huge red flag here!

4. Next mistake and red flag…He asked me if I ever have had bad Tenants?

I told him “no I have been fortunate” I now realize he was trying to see if I have had any experience with the eviction process and the LTB. Seems like I was being interviewed instead of the other way around! At this point I probably should have just bent over! And I still can’t believe I answered or almost answered some of these questions.

5. I explained the application and process involved and he wanted me to send him the application faxed right away.

I told him to meet first which is also a mistake after all of the above (1-4). There should have been no meeting at all. He also wants to meet across the street in the plaza, suggests Starbucks. I decline and tell him to meet at the security desk in the building. He agrees.

6. He messaged me later and asked for the application again, address and unit number.

Again I gave him the address and unit number but told him again I will bring an application to the meeting. Meeting set for 7pm. I realize I don’t have to give him the unit number, yet until we meet. Especially to someone this adamant. The floor number should be be suffice at the preliminary stage.

7.  I next call to confirm the meeting time with his Cohort, which is scheduled for 7:30 pm, who at this point I believe to be another prospective tenant.

However, in hindsight this guy had a story about why he wanted to move closer to work and save travel time. But when I mapped out the work to home there was no savings in time! This was a red flag!! Anyway, he does not answer or confirm the call. At 5:35 pm I send a text asking him to confirm the meeting and to confirm his employer and where he lives again because I forgot but I mistakenly mention the other fraudsters employer. (the company where he knows the so called VP)

8.  At 5:45 pm I am messaged by F1 that he is meeting a retired lawyer friend at a bar across the street from the condo.

Again to myself “Who gives a shit?” But I quickly check and the bar in question is located somewhere else. I ask him what the lawyers name is and he says Georgina I tell him Georgina retired too early. Now he asks me if I know Georgina? I tell him I know Georgina, Sally and Alana, they are good lawyers.

9. This is where it gets interesting. At 6:41 pm he texts me that his cell phone is dying and he is leaving downtown and will be late and arriving by 7:15 pm. At 6:45 pm I receive a text from  says his cell died and he forgot the address and to resend it.

10. At 7:08 pm asks again for the address. I tell him on Dundas across the street from the bar. At 7:15 pm he messages me he is just leaving Bay station and going westbound. I tell him to enjoy the ride.

11. I contact my current Tenant and the concierge and inform them the the showing is cancelled because the prospects are late and if they show up, tell them the same.

I am thinking they are no shows. At 7:40 pm I receive a voice message from James Regan and he wants to know what’s going on and was informed by security the meeting is cancelled. I did not respond to him yet. All I have to say to that is “No Shit Sherlock it’s cancelled . You are 40 minutes late and wasted my time!” And I have zero recourse! I can’t go to LTB and complain but don’t be surprised if this fraudster tries because he was inconveniently 40 minutes late and tried to manipulate Information out of me.

I have to go back to being more diligent and strict about this process. No more nice guy and no leeway anymore. Like before and it has worked out well for us. And don’t ask me about my kids or my family. I will tell you nicely to take a hike.

What I MUST do…

a) Get a full name right away when you talk to someone on the phone…I just had a first name and a phone number and was unable to properly pre-screen the prospect. I know better than this!! that is why I am kicking myself today!!! I got the last name from the voice message he left me in the evening and as soon as I googled it the CBC article and few others came up.

b) There is also a Facebook page setup which might be fake as well with a picture and some credentials/work experience. The company he claims he worked with that my wife worked for is listed there as well. I found this by google searching his name and that company.

c) Anyone retired from teaching and Ontario Teachers College certified teacher can be searched using the OTC website. I used this last night and I did find one James Regan but the education listed did not match what is listed on the Facebook profile.

Be careful everyone!! Remember “Rent Thieves Don’t Retire” the law doesn’t require them too.

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Tenants Reporting “Illegal” Apartments Should Think Twice

January 24th, 2018 · Property Management, Rental Property

I received a call from a landlord today. His tenant who pays $800 for a two bedroom apartment basement with all utilities included has reported him to the City. I haven’t seen the place but the place sounds ok.

The city is coming to inspect the place. Like reports of child abuse or domestic violence, the city must investigate. Here’s what you need to know. If the problem is minor, the landlord will have 30 days or more to do the work, if it isn’t minor and requires major work, the tenant must vacate.

What did you think happened? You report your landlord and they get in trouble? Not really, all that happens is they have to fix the problem and if the problem cannot be rectified, you get 30 days to move. If the problem requires extensive renovations due to the City Order, you have to move.

So let’s say you live in a $500 per month basement that’s pretty crappy, but you want to live in a nicer place… just move to a nicer place and pay for it. If you call the city, they are likely to shut it down. You will have to move. Maybe you can move into a homeless shelter. Chances are the landlord will not rerent the place after having a bunch of trouble with you. It’s just not worth it for a lousy $500 per month less the cost of utilities and you probably left your lights on all day because why not? you’re not paying for it.

I had a place on Sussex Ave in Toronto. It had 2 basement apartments, rented for around $1000 per month, declared completely safe according to the Fire Inspector but illegal according to City Zoning. We consulted an architect to try to legalize the basements and they said the city of Toronto will want 30K just in development charges. The tenants were evicted, and instead of 4 affordable apartments, there are 2 huge luxury apartments, the landlords get more money, didn’t pay the city for any development charges and doing better than ever. We should send the tenant (evicted now) a check for the wonderful work he did for our landlord business. In every case I think of where the landlord had this issue… the tenant got thrown out and the landlord ends up renovating and renting for a lot more.

So if your place is safe in case of fire, in that it has a fire alarm/co detector and no bars on the basement windows and It’s cheap, don’t be idiot and report it to the city unless you have another place to go to. Not only will your landlord not appreciate it, there’s a good chance you will have to move, immediately.

If you do not have a fire detector or C/O detector go to the Hardware Store and buy one. It’s $60 for the 10 year smoke/co. Then take it off your rent. Or even the cheap smoke detectors are $6. Or bug your landlord & then if that doesn’t work get the Fire Department in. Here you kind of run the same risk as above, if it’s really unsafe the work require might mean you have to move.

For sure, you won’t be getting a reference. Because no one enjoys having the City or the Fire Department called on them. Too many times, what we find is tenants behind in their rent trying to cause trouble for their landlords. Meanwhile you’re not only messing with yourself, in many cases the landlord will just sell the house, or not rent it out again etc. There goes one more affordable apartment.

I bought a car once for $400, ironically a tenant sold it to me. It was a shit car. I didn’t complain, I got it fixed and it lasted me 18 months. That’s $22 per month for a car. Again it was shit, but I paid $22. Now you know what would have been stupid? Calling the guy that sold me the car 18 months later when the transmission blew out and complaining.

Now rents are expensive in Toronto, because houses are expensive, utilities are expensive, repairs are expensive, property taxes are expensive. So let’s say you manage to find a 2 bedroom basement for $800 all in, which is cheap as hell in Toronto, and you are unhappy, let someone else have it and move.

What blows me away is… when I get to tell the tenants they have to move… they are always shocked, and I always ask them… “WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?”

This is not Kindergarten here people, this is real life, and this is what happens. The city may be friendly but they are not really your friend.

Make Careful Choices. That is All.

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Brand Name Evictions

January 22nd, 2018 · Landlord & Tenant Board, Rental Property

Today I went to the final step in an eviction, the arrival of the sheriff / enforcement officers. Once they make sure the tenant has moved out, you get possession of your property back. For 72 hours the tenant has a right to come pick up their stuff.

This tenant owes over 10K and what we found today was disgusting. Empty box after empty box of name brand clothing, computer goods and Louis Vuitton purses.

I can get really angry because of the completely wrong meme of a single mom struggling to get by on her last dollar, honest but unfortunate victim of circumstances and life or hardworking immigrant with bad English making minimum wage has to choose between food and their greedy landlord’s rent.

This is my experience of the deadbeat tenant, and honestly I’ve seen this shit too many times. This is why I’m becoming so merciless with rent arrears, because of people like this one.

I wish Landlord& Tenant Board adjudicators were paid using deadbeat tenant Landlord & Tenant Board Orders.

Deadbeat tenants… scammers.

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Landlords & Professionalism Replying to Ads

January 21st, 2018 · Property Management, Rental Property

Recently I’ve had occasion to help a few friends with the rental process and it’s been terrible. Experiencing the rental process from the other direction made me realize that we are doing a lot better than most other landlords but we can still improve a lot. It also explained a lot of “annoying” responses that tenants had been sending. It also explained a lot of newspaper articles about bidding wars. The experience has made me change my approach to the advertising process.

Here are the major issues I encountered…

  1. No reply to emails
  2. No reply to phone calls
  3. False Advertising
  4. Underpricing for the purposes of making a bidding war.
  5. Inactive Ads

So when you respond to an ad, you have a default message, such as Is this property still available? or Hi, I am interested in learning more about 83 Brenda Crescent at 83 Brenda Crescent, Toronto ON, M1K 3C5. Some landlords have taken to not answering these default messages because they feel like the tenant can’t be bothered to put any effort into the rental process. What most landlords don’t realize is that tenants are getting about 1 response for every 20-30 emails they send out. It’s kind of hard to write your whole life story when you get less that 5% of responses back. No I’m not exaggerating.

My Solution: Reply back even if it’s a simple message like “Sorry the property has been rented” or Sorry we have an application in process and will let you know if it falls through”

So when tenants call no one calls them back and I too am guilty of this. It can take a lot of time to call everyone back. It’s annoying especially if the place is already rented.

My Solution: Send a text, it doesn’t take much time.

I can not tell you how many people have said to me throughout the years… “The property looks just like the pictures.” We take pictures of the actual property with the actual number of rooms, etc. We present the property move in ready in good condition. Apparently this is not a common practice in the landlord business. I’m not sure why, I wouldn’t want to move into a dirty rental and I don’t know anyone who would. Finally if you misrepresent the property, you’re wasting both yours and the potential tenant’s time.

My Solution: Don’t be a douche.

I responded to ads such as a 3 bedroom whole house with excellent pictures on Dufferin Street, priced at $1800 per month. At least the landlord answered the phone, it was a real estate agent who told me they had a lot of interest and would be accepting offers. I laughed and said “No thanks I don’t participate in bidding wars”

My Solution: Flamethrowers or Just SAY NO!

There are often delays with the rental process such as pending applications that are taking 3-4 days to process or you’re waiting to do a showing and haven’t gotten back to people. I’ve had some ads with hundreds of responses. Then it can take a few days before pulling all the ads down. Life happens. Finally with us we have a lot of advertisers, so we can easily forget to pull one ad down from one of them.

My Solution: Take your ads down, reply in the meantime such as We have an application pending etc.

Helping other people find and look for rental properties made me really appreciate that tenants are not getting responses from 90+% of communication efforts with landlords. This made me change my own business practices to respond to tenants even after the property is rented. I encourage other landlords to be more professional in their tenant communications.

I learn a lot about the difficulties tenants experience when trying to respond to ads to see places, and I for one am going to change the way I communicate and deal with tenants trying to rent. Finally I feel like a lot of landlords may just be avoiding uncomfortable situations by “ghosting” tenants instead of telling them directly their application is not accepted.

Be Professional – No Ghosting

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Richmond Hill – Can You Stop Breaking The Law?

January 13th, 2018 · Property Management, Rental Property

I can just get so disgusted. In 2011 Ontario passed a law that should have made every basement apartment in Ontario legal. Unfortunately they stopped short of sanity because they allowed the municipalities to set their own by-laws, rules, committees, licensing schemes and generally non stop road blocks to the legalization of basement apartments to satisfy the endless stream of NIMBY jerks who are terrified that some tenant germs might fall on their property or God Forbid someone park on their empty goddamn suburban street. In fact the only city that is usually pretty good is the City of Toronto, as long as your place follows Fire Code rules, they aren’t going to bother you.

For many years after the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011, Mississauga, Brampton, Oshawa, Whitby and others actively continued to try to eradicate second suites. To this day many cities are just complete assholes about allowing what is our only new source of affordable housing. Only 70% of the upstairs area? Two furnaces in new houses? A certain width driveway? And on and on, with every little town and hamlet, a different set of rules and regulations. It’s just maddening. Is it necessary? Is it helpful? What are the consequences?

The inevitable conclusion I have come to is that all of these rules and regulations serve just one purpose, dissuading owners from creating basement suites and adding endless hassle and expense. However grudgingly these cities have been dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era at least landlords with second suites are not inherently “Go Directly To Jail” illegally breaking the law. Finally.

However a full 7 years later Richmond Hill is still continuing this proud lawbreaking tradition, it’s really terrible and it has nothing to do with safety. It’s stupid and regressive.

Today a Fire Inspector went to the apartment in question, and his only suggestion for safety was to change the plastic dryer vent hose for a metal dryer vent hose. Everything else is legal, everything is safe, and lets face it a lot us have that shitty plastic vent hose in our houses. (You should change it)

Then a City Inspector went in and is sending information to the owner on how to remove the kitchen and basically take this apartment off the market.

In the GTA every day there is something in the news about the vacancy rates… and how we need affordable housing really badly, and people are homeless and dying in the weather and then you have the city assholes in Richmond Hill shutting down really nice decent apartments contrary to the law of Ontario and contrary to common sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still frustrated as heck with antiquated City of Toronto Bylaws that make triplexes and multi unit houses in vast swathes of suburbia illegal, impossible, and unthinkable but today it’s Richmond Hill that makes me sick, and I hope it makes you sick too.

Mayor of Richmond Hill officemayor@richmondhill.ca

Councillor Greg Beros greg@gregberos.com

Councillor Tom Muench tom.muench@richmondhill.ca

Councillor Castro Liu castro.liu@richmondhill.ca

Councillor  David West david.west@richmondhill.ca

Councillor Karen Cilevitz karen.cilevitz@richmondhill.ca

Councillor Godwin Chan godwin.chan@richmondhill.ca

Just to make it easy I’ve create a little note you can copy paste (Control C to copy and Control V to paste) into an email to aforementioned city officials who have ignored the law of Ontario for years and failed to update their city policies to reflect the new rules adding to homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in their city.

Dear Mayor & Councillors of Richmond Hill,

It is time to stop ignoring the law of Ontario specifically the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act 2011 and stop forcing your bylaw officers to tell your (many new immigrant) constituents to remove perfectly safe and legal basement apartments. It’s time to check basement apartments for Fire Safety and then leave the tenants and owners alone.

Tenants have been evicted by owners for no good reason other than regressive, antiquated city policy, bullied by your bylaw officers and frightened of City of Richmond Hill threats of fines. The poorest and most vulnerable tenants… You are acting in an illegal manner and you need to stop be part of dismantling economically disadvantaged people’s homes.

Many Thanks,

Concerned Resident of Ontario (Your Name)

Go suck an Egg – Richmond Hill – Stop Being a Douche

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