The first thing she noticed was some toiletries going missing.
Then a few other items.
It was a mystery for a Victoria renter who undertook an investigation into the thefts that ended with a horrifying conclusion about who was stealing from her.
It was the neighbours.
But it wasn’t just upsetting about what the neighbours were doing, but how they got access to her unit.
Turns out the landlord gave them a key but didn’t tell her about it - not that informing her would have made it OK.
The renter contacted the Victoria News after reading my recent column entitled “Unlawful Entry” that discussed the rules that landlords must follow when they want to enter a rental unit.
You can read about it here, but basically you need a good reason and you need to give at least 24 hours of notice.
The renter – she calls herself “Exhausted Tenant” – has been granted anonymity here due to possible repercussions from the landlord. She has provided proof of what’s happened and the fact the landlord hasn’t rectified the situation.
“It was NOT brought to my attention (when I moved in) or even mentioned for that matter that there would be a tenant living amongst us with a master key to every room and permission to enter any room at any time they desired,” said Exhausted Tenant.
The discovery was made after she went on some overnight trips and returned home to find things missing.
That’s when she set up a hidden camera.
It’s also when she discovered there was more than theft going on in her unit.
“This was how I found out that the neighbours would drunkenly come into my place when they knew I would be gone for a day or two and either sit and socialize in my living room, using dishes, eating my food, helping themselves to pretty much whatever they wanted,” Exhausted Tenant said.
She confronted some of the people involved and was told that the landlord had given out the key and given permission because there is a breaker box in her unit and sometimes the breakers need to be reset.
“When I confronted the landlord about it, he laughed at me and said he had been running rentals for 20 years and no one has ever had a problem with other tenants entering their rental to switch the breaker back on,” Exhausted Tenant said. “I do believe this is due to him not informing them beforehand but I never got confirmation on that as I was so offended by his response that I ended the conversation quite soon after him saying these things to me.”
Making matters worse is that Exhausted Tenant has a child who, due to health issues, requires a sterile environment.
She called the situation a “nightmare” but she’s fought back by refusing to pay rent until the landlord takes action.
People will likely respond to this with the lazy suggestion to “just move” but they must remember that this is a tough rental market with a low vacancy rate. It’s not easy to just pick up and move. It’s difficult to find a rental that will take kids and that is clean enough for a child with health issues.
And why should this person have to move just because their landlord wants to violate the law?
Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media at the Victoria hub of newspapers. You can follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.
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