Chomedey landlord wins $29,500 judgment against ‘tenant from hell’
The Laval News
Martin C. Barry
While a Chomedey landlord recently won an almost $30,000 judgement against a tenant who was held liable for extensive damages to an apartment, the owners say they still have numerous hurdles to jump before they can even hope to collect a settlement from their former tenant.
“Honestly, this could be the worst tenant of all time,” said Bill Choudalos, whose father, Stelios, has owned and lived in a Châtelaine Ave. duplex in Chomedey for half a century.
Three years ago, the father, who has 2 1/2 room basement apartment, decided to rent it out to a middle-aged Chomedey man who claimed he was a former international DJ who had begun working for an Australian security company.
Signs things weren’t right
“About ten, fifteen years ago, he would travel even to Europe to DJ,” said Bill, surmising that the former tenant’s heyday was apparently over by the time he arrived on his father’s doorstep seeking to rent the apartment.
Being essentially kind in nature, the father decided to rent out the unit at a fairly low cost – around $500 a month, as his son recalled.
However, they sensed something was going wrong when one of the first things the new tenant did after moving in was to tape large black cloth coverings over the basement apartment’s windows. As a result, no one on the outside could see the gradually-deteriorating state of things inside.
Living in a garbage heap
“His curtains weren’t opened for three years,” said Bill. Much worse, it would appear he almost never bothered to clean up and put out his garbage, which accumulated in large piles inside.
“He had his mattress over here in the corner, and he had garbage beside the mattress, but it would stay there for weeks and weeks. When I first came in here after he left, the smell was unbelievable. I couldn’t stay in more than five minutes. How does a human being live under those conditions?”
Then came the rats. The accumulation of garbage became so bad over the three-year period, that the four-legged vermin were living openly in the apartment, claims Bill, who furnished The Laval News with photos showing a dead rat on the floor of the vacated apartment.
Cleanup took two months
“There was a stove and there were rats living in the drawer of the stove and there were thousands of rat droppings in there,” he said. “This is all because he [the tenant] would hoard garbage. It took us two months after he left just to get rid of the rats. After he left, we removed 35 garbage bags.”
The infestation grew worse when the rats began spreading from the basement through the walls upward into the rest of the house. The family could hear them scratching behind the walls as the rats moved around at night. According to Bill, the tenant always refused during his three years of occupancy to allow the apartment to be inspected.
“Things came to a head one summer afternoon when we saw a rat on the windowsill,” he said. “We were walking through our backyard and it was daylight. There we could see between the curtain and the window was a rat on the windowsill. We couldn’t believe it. He was in the apartment and there was a rat in there with him.”
Would be up all night
Bill said the tenant would typically be up all night, smoking cigarettes and marijuana – even though Bill claims the tenant had agreed to smoke only outdoors – while burning candles that were later found burned down to their stubs, creating a potential fire hazard.
Matters finally came to head when Bill and his father decided to call the Laval Fire Department, which conducted an inspection, following which an inspector issued an order to the tenant to remove the garbage from the apartment within a two-week deadline.
“That’s how we were finally able to get rid of him,” said Bill. “He knew it was pretty much impossible to clean up the mess that he created. So, last Oct. 8, he finally moved out. My 80-year-old dad who’s been here for 50 years and never missed a day of work in his life, did the cleanup himself.
“The fridge and stove were ruined. The stove was covered in rat droppings. It took two months to finally get rid of the rats. The tenant is currently living in an apartment complex on Chomedey Blvd. in Laval. He promised my dad he would return to pay the last month’s rent, which he didn’t, he never came back.”
Despite the Quebec Régie du Logement tribunal judgement in his father’s favour, Bill notes that his family will have to hire a bailiff at their own expense and take other legal avenues if they hope to collect the $29,500 amount.