Landlord seeing red
A?landlord believes that alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?may be the only way to solve the myriad problems which many landlords face with delinquent tenants.
On September 1, Victor Clarke would be owed over $6 000 in rent plus $497 he had to pay the telephone company because his tenant did not pay the bill.
An upset Clarke lamented that in addition to being owed that huge amount of money, he now has to pay an attorney to take the matter to court to get the tenant out of his house.
“I?think the system is very skewed and very lopsided. It is unfair to the landlord. What I find is that the tenant has all the rights. The tenant can do no wrong. It is time that Barbados has a small claims court to deal specifically with landlord/tenant situations or they have to get ADR set up so that such matters can be dealt with for a fee of probably $150.”
While he has never had any problems with previous tenants, Clarke, who owns a rental house at Haggatt Hall Main Road, St Michael, said he found himself on the receiving end after he rented the house last year to a woman who “ran me down” for it.
He recalled that at that time he was repairing the three-bedroom wood-and-wall house when a woman and her boyfriend passed by and enquired about it.
“They would call me at my residence, sometimes late at night, to check on the progress. In the end, I?decided to rent the woman the house and she signed the agreement and I handed over the keys to her on June 4, 2011.”
He explained that the woman moved into the house with her boyfriend and paid the rent for eight months without any problems. But everything changed this year.
“On January 1 this year, was the last time I?received rent from her,” he stated.
He said since that date he has been going to the house but it was always “locked down tight”?and nobody answered his knocks.
“When I?call her cellphone, it goes straight to voicemail and I?leave messages but she does not return my call,” he said.
The situation became even more critical when he received a call from the telephone company informing him that $447 was owed on the service at Haggatt Hall and if it was not paid, his other phones would also be disconnected.
The landlord said he was shocked because part of the agreement was that the woman would transfer all the utility bills to her name.
“I had to rush and pay the bill so that my phone would not be disconnected,” he cried, pointing out that the electricity bill still remained in the name of a former tenant, who was also contacted by that utility company and informed that he would have to pay over $1 000 in arrears.
Clarke said after visiting the house on several occasions, both day and night, and not locating the tenant, he decided to padlock the water meter but on two separate occasions he found that the locks had been sawn off.
“I?went there one day and found a man in the backyard doing mechanic or bodywork and I told him that the property could not be sublet without my permission. He told me that he would speak to the tenant.”
It was on one of his many visits to the house that he eventually saw the tenant one day as she was about to leave.
“She looked at me and said: ‘I have your rent, let me make a telephone call’. After making the call, she told me that her boyfriend would pay the rent and that I was supposed to meet him the next day at 6 a.m. in the car park at his workplace.”
Clarke said he went to the car park the next day and waited for a few hours but did not see the woman or her boyfriend.
This week, Clarke visited the house again to find the gate to the backyard open and four vehicles parked in the yard, with several tools on the ground, suggesting that someone was doing body work or mechanical work.
Clarke said he made a report to the District “A”?Police Station and was accompanied to the house by two officers but no one was there.