Forged documents and credit scores show how bad Toronto's rental system is right now
A recent Twitter thread shows how intricate, and how common, forged credit scores, pay stubs and employment letters have gotten in Toronto's rental system lately.
Varun Sriskanda, who runs a property management company and is a member of the Board of Directors for Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario (SOLO) posted the Twitter thread, and says he is confronted with similar issues all too often.
Sriskanda told blogTO a small landlord approached his property management company, and suspected that the documents provided by their tenant were fake.
🧵1/ Last month a small landlord approached me with a problem I hear often. He had a tenant that was 3 months in default. He filed an L1 and called me to learn what else can be done. Waiting 10 months for a hearing with no rent while paying the mortgage will ruin him.— Varun Sriskanda (@VarunSriskanda) December 2, 2022
"I confirmed everything was fake and I suggested to him a number of options which included laying a private charge and bringing attention to the tenants' use of fradulent documents via a protest at the property," he said.
2/ I looked at the documents the Tenant used to secure the place. Long story short fake credit score, pay stub and job letters. Not surprising to me but shocking to the LL because he used a “top producing Realtor” to represent his interests. That didn’t happen. pic.twitter.com/rS66QyCt9J— Varun Sriskanda (@VarunSriskanda) December 2, 2022
After calling the tenant's alleged employer, Sriskanda discovered that the pay stubs provided were forged.
3/ The tenant claimed to be working for Trillium Roadways. I spoke to Trillium and he basically said “oh great another one”. He said for years someone has been editing his letterhead and paystubs to look like it was their own. pic.twitter.com/nDBZKwqSTr— Varun Sriskanda (@VarunSriskanda) December 2, 2022
"You can't expect to live rent free at one of my client's properties for 10 months and have me do nothing about it," Sriskanda explained. "The tenant suddenly agreed to move because they didn't want police attention to what they are already involved in which is clear criminal activity."
4/ After filing the L1 I went to Toronto Police Service and sought approval to protest at the property tomorrow The purpose was to bring to the public’s attention the backlogs at the LTB and how powerless a small landlord is once they provide housing to a professional tenant. pic.twitter.com/CPWpdZYBKx— Varun Sriskanda (@VarunSriskanda) December 2, 2022
"I have a landlord call me and tell me they suspect the credit score and job letter provided by their tenant was fake almost everyday," he told blogTO.
According to Sriskanda, most of these disputes are resolved by way of eviction at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for non-payment of rent, but with backlogs in the system this means financial ruin for many small landlords who have to wait long periods of time without rent.
He suggests to small landlords to lay a charge against their tenant for using forged documents.
"The problem is police are very hesitant to get involved in landlord-tenant disputes and even where fake documents are involved they always direct us to LTB," Sriskanda said. "I serve them everything on a platter ready to go and they won't touch it because it's landlord-tenant related."
He says the biggest red flag that tenants may have forged documents is non-payment of rent soon after they move in, and advises small landlords to invest in a vetting process by someone who knows exactly what they're doing.
7/ This needs to end. Far too many small landlords are putting themselves into financial ruin by taking a chance on a tenant that doesn’t qualify for market rate rentals. This LL felt bad for the young couple with a child that had trouble finding another house. Big mistake.— Varun Sriskanda (@VarunSriskanda) December 2, 2022
"I do not accept credit scores from tenants. I run my own score, so there is no risk of forgery," Sriskanda told blogTO. "I verify job letters by calling the number for the company on Google, not the number on the job letter."
To avoid a similar incident, he encourages small landlords to run names through OpenRoom.ca, canlii.org, make sure there's no judgements against the tenant at the LTB, Google names, verify where they were living earlier, read the laws, and keep up-t0-date with landlord-tenant related topics.
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