Edmonton landlords run ‘do not rent’ list in private Facebook group


More than 440 so-called “bad tenants” are named in the most recent version of a list run by the “Landlords Beware! Bad Tenants — Edmonton and area” Facebook group accessible by Postmedia.

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Edmonton landlords who keep a “do not rent” list are banned, say their trade organization and the province’s privacy commissioner.

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More than 440 alleged “bad tenants” are named in the most recent version of a list run by the secret Facebook group “Landlords Beware!” Bad Tenants – Edmonton and Area,” accessed by Postmedia. The names of a person’s children, other family members and business are included in some cases.

Donna Monkhouse, executive director of the Alberta Residential Landlord Association, said these kinds of listings are “just not right.”

Landlords already have the power to vet potential tenants with credit and reference checks, and can seek help from the courts, she notes. Monkhouse said there’s no way to know if the stories of alleged bad tenants are true or fabricated, but listing them could prevent someone who was in a bad place in the past from finding a home there. coming.

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A screenshot of the secret Facebook group
A screenshot of the secret Facebook group “Landlords Beware!” Bad tenants – Edmonton and area. screenshot/facebook

“People are going broke, can’t pay their rent. People encounter other problems, personal problems. Things happen. Is it the right to be blacklisted for the rest of your life? she said in an interview. “I just think it’s wrong. It’s just wrong.

The private Facebook group of more than 2,200 members was created about four years ago for landlords and property managers “to post the names and photos of ‘bad tenants’. People who don’t pay rent, destroy goods, etc.,” according to the group’s description.

But no reason why someone is an undesirable tenant is included for about 95% of the names.

Twenty-two names include alleged offenses ranging from the simple “accumulator”, allowing someone not included in the lease to live on the premises, causing damage and paying rent late or not at all, to a handful of more serious where the court or the police were involved.

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Posts including photos of alleged damage caused by tenants are common in the group, as are screenshots of Facebook profiles. Members can request to add someone’s name when commenting on a main post.

A screenshot of the secret Facebook group
A screenshot of the secret Facebook group “Landlords Beware!” Bad tenants – Edmonton and area.

“Probably against the law”

Scott Sibbald, spokesperson for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPCA), said in an email that creating or maintaining a database or a list on social media to blacklist tenants is ‘probably against the law’.

“Several privacy issues arise, including ensuring the accuracy of personal information and obtaining consent,” he wrote.

Homeowners in Alberta must follow the rules of the Personal Information Protection Act, according to the commissioner’s office. This means that they can only collect, use and disclose personal information for reasonable purposes. Researching potential tenants on social media would likely require their consent, he said.

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Calgary lawyer Joshua Threinen, who was a group administrator until recently, denied any involvement with the list and said he was not a fan of it. He was hired to help moderate the group, he said, which is a place for landlords to share their experiences of repeat bad tenants.

He said Alberta landlord and tenant laws need to be strengthened.

“There is a certain, very small part of the population that is serially causing excessive damage to the properties of these people,” he said in an interview. “There are the same people who ransack these people’s properties… and (some owners) have invested their life savings. It’s people’s retirement funds, and they lose between $20,000 and $30,000 in repairs.

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When asked if such a list is fair to tenants who are unaware of it, Threinen had no comment.

Threinen identified himself as an “attorney and attorney” in an April 27, 2021 post. In the post, he tells members that tenants have no expectation of privacy on Facebook because the pages are public, and that commenters should “prove that the tenants were at fault or caused damage. He also cautions members against discussing the group’s private content and lying about the tenants.

Threinen told Postmedia he has no recollection of that post and suggests someone else may have posted under his name.

An excerpt from the 'do not rent list' shared on the secret Facebook group 'Landlords Beware!  Bad tenants – Edmonton and area.
An excerpt from the ‘do not rent list’ shared on the secret Facebook group ‘Landlords Beware! Bad tenants – Edmonton and area. FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT

“He’s always trying to ruin my life”

One such tenant named in the group is Joni Watchmaker.

Contacted by Postmedia, Watchmaker was surprised to learn that a man she hired in 2018, Sammy Rahime, asked to add her to the list just a few weeks ago. Rahime posted a screenshot of Watchmaker’s Facebook page with his name and the comment “Very very bad tenant”.

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“I always feel like I’m being attacked. That was four years ago, and he’s still trying to ruin my life,” Watchmaker said.

Band members are only hearing one side of the story, Watchmaker said, and it doesn’t seem fair.

Watchmaker explained that in 2018 she was forced to choose between her job and the unexpected fostering of her two twin grandsons to prevent them from ending up in foster care. There’s no way she’s letting her grandchildren into this system after seeing how it ruined her sister’s life, she said.

“I had to take time off from work, so I had no income, so I was falling behind on my rent. I was trying to ask (my landlord) to be understandable while I waited for my EI to kick in,” she said.

“I had to make a decision and I chose my family. I chose my grandchildren.

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The watchmaker was worried to learn of the continued attention of its former owner.

In 2019, Rahime also posted a one-star Watchmaker review on her workplace Google page – which Postmedia saw – telling people to stay away from her, that she is a liar and that she owes him money.

She acknowledges that she owes Rahime money, but said it has been difficult to repay. But she doesn’t think something that happened four years ago means she and her grandsons shouldn’t be able to find accommodation today: “I’m glad that (my new) landlord allowed to rent there, for where would I be if he didn’t? I would lose my grandchildren, I would be homeless.

Rahime told Postmedia he wanted to add Watchmaker’s name to the “do not rent list” to warn other landlords.

There aren’t enough protections for landlords in Alberta, Rahime said. If someone causes damage: “charge them criminally”, he said. “Anyone can go up to anyone’s house and damage them…they should be able to be charged.”

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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