Clive Callaway and Cathryn Rankin who rent a secondary suite at their Gardom Lake home hope that a frustrating experience they had with tenants during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to changes to regulations around rental units. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Obsever)

Clive Callaway and Cathryn Rankin who rent a secondary suite at their Gardom Lake home hope that a frustrating experience they had with tenants during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to changes to regulations around rental units. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Obsever)

COVID-19 eviction freeze leaves Shuswap landlords cold

Clive Callaway and Cathryn Rankin are out more than $4,000 after frustrating experience

Following a bad experience with renters amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Gardom Lake couple is hoping their experience can prompt change in the way landlords and tenants interact.

Clive Callaway and Cathryn Rankin accepted two new tenants into the rental unit at their Gardom Lake property at the start of February 2020. The couple said rent cheques stopped coming from one of them on April 1 – she moved out without warning shortly thereafter and left no forwarding address.

The other tenant, who Callaway and Rankin said was on social assistance, had stopped paying rent as of July 1.

The landlords say matters were complicated by the eviction freeze put in place by the B.C. government from March to September. The freeze came with a provision giving tenants who owed rent which would have been due during the freeze until July 2021 to pay it back. They said they were eventually able to evict the remaining tenant on medical grounds before the end of the freeze as her smoking was irritating Rankin’s asthma and Callaway also recently had a pacemaker implanted. This, they explained, was a lengthy process requiring letters from doctors.

As non-working pensioners, Callaway and Rankin described the income from the rental unit as an important piece of their fragile financial situation. While attempting to collect the unpaid rent, which they said amounted to $4,600, they found how difficult and expensive a process it can be.

Read More: Free stuff: Shuswap mom hopes to get people upcycling

Read More: Friday the 13th: A brief history and look at its significance

Callaway said they have paid more than $350 in court, registered mailing and Residential Tenancy Branch application fees. In addition, he said they have driven more than 500 kilometres on errands to the courthouse and bank.

Also adding to their mileage total was an attempt to locate their former tenants to serve the summons to a payment hearing. In absence of a forwarding address they had to operate off rumours and intuition. Callaway and Rankin said the search made them feel like vigilantes.

Hiring a professional skip tracer to handle the service of the papers was a possibility, but Callaway and Rankin said it was a further expense they could ill afford and they were unable to find one based anywhere closer than Kelowna. More than a month after their initial search for the former tenants, Callaway said they still have not been able to secure a skip tracer’s services.

Read More: Secwépemc veterans faced battles of a different sort upon return from war

Read More: Christmas will be different even if Santa is ‘probably’ immune to COVID, says B.C. top doctor

Unable to successfully serve the former tenants with papers, Callaway said he had to cancel the payment hearing they had scheduled with the courts. Frustrated, he noted if another product or service were taken without payment, it might be possible to get the police involved.

The couple believe better solutions should available for situations such as theirs, to improve things for both landlords and tenants when conflicts arise.

One possibility is more government supports for landlords who rely on rental income to make ends meet. Rankin said when the rent money stopped arriving, both tenants were provided with information on how to apply for a rent relief program. There was no indication they ever applied. Callaway and Rankin said the situation could have been approved if there was some way for landlords to initiate the rent relief process when tenants choose not to.

They also said they wouldn’t be opposed to paying into some sort of protection fund to assist low-income landlords in the event of non-payment.

Callaway and Rankin said situations like the one they experienced can lead to reduced rental inventory. They said they have heard from other landlords who have chosen to rent out their properties on a short-term basis or not at all due to negative experiences.

The non payment led Callaway and Rankin to consider selling their property, but they said they now have good tenants in place.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RentalsSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who rammed a police car to escape an arrest attempt. 
(File photo)
Lumby robbery suspect leaves empty handed, and gets caught

Armed suspect demanded cash and lottery tickets from Vernon Street business

Executive director of CMHA Vernon Julia Payson says the North Okanagan has incredible community-based mental health services that can help take the pressure off acute care in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but funding is necessary. (Contributed)
Calls to Vernon crisis line jump 63 per cent amid COVID-19

Studies find suicidal feelings deepen in second wave of pandemic; community resources need funding

Paul Nixon (centre) of Nixon Wenger LLP is recognized in 2014 as North Okanagan Community Life Society’s Good Guy of the Year by NOCLS Golf Classic committee members Ruby Sharma (left) and Rick Dubois, on the roof of the Nixon Wenger building on 30th Avenue. Tributes are pouring in for Nixon, who died of cancer Nov. 25 at the age of 72. (Morning Star file photo)
Tributes pour in for Vernon lawyer, community booster

Paul Nixon, founder of Nixon Wenger LLP, died Nov. 25 of cancer at age 72

A power outage on Westside Road affected thousands of residents Thursday morning. (BC Hydro map)
UPDATE: Power restored for thousands on Westside

Outage sparked early this morning due to equipment malfunction

The Winnipeg-based app released its 2020 findings thus far showing the people of Vernon jumped at the opportunity to support its local favourites amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (SkipTheDishes photo)
Pandemic pushes 50% more Vernon eateries on SkipTheDishes

‘Vernon is a trendsetter,’ delivery app says after revealing city’s favourite takeout foods

A private retail non-medical cannabis store has been proposed for the Mall at Piccadilly. The application will go to Salmon Arm Council’s planning meeting for a referral on Dec. 7. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Retail cannabis store proposed for Salmon Arm’s Mall at Piccadilly

Application to come to council’s planning meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.

Paule Moore, formerly known as Paule Seeger. (TNG Legal Services)
Kelowna lawyer to face disciplinary hearing over alleged misappropriated funds

Paule Moore, née Seeger, is accused of withdrawing client trust funds a number of times when she was not entitled to do so

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Access to a Bastion Road property in Sunnybrae was blocked with officers on scene on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (File photo)
Report clears RCMP actions that led to fatal shooting of Shuswap suspect

Independent Investigations Office of BC releases findings on Jan. 7 incident in Tappen

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read