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Ontario landlord claims he’s owed $76,000 in rent by a Canadian border guard

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An Ontario landlord is throwing up his hands in frustration after trying to evict a tenant he claims owes him $12,000 in rent for a lakefront property — only to have that figure skyrocket to more than $76,000 by the time proceedings to evict him were over.

A CTV News Investigation has shown this is not the first time the tenant, Riccardo Gagliardi, has defended himself at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for non-payment of thousands of dollars in rent — all while being an officer at the Canadian Border Services Agency.

“I have friends in law enforcement. They’re flabbergasted,” landlord Mike Adams told CTV News in an interview. “It’s pretty unbelievable.”

Gagliardi met with CTV News to discuss the allegations, saying he has settled with one landlord, but believes his rights were not upheld in the Landlord and Tenant Board proceeding, and has appealed its finding against him to Ontario’s Divisional Court.

“As time went by I knew this was unfair and I fought it and kept fighting it and I’m still going to keep fighting it,” Gagliardi said in an interview.

Adams wasn’t the only person in a rental dispute with Gaglardi. Bernhard Mattern also accused him in the LTB of not paying $18,000 in a rent-to-own agreement, and evicted him before the pandemic began.

“We got one payment and that’s it,” Mattern told CTV News in an interview. That dispute was settled for $10,000, both parties said.

Both Mattern and Adams turned to the authorities to remove Gaglardi, and both were surprised to discover that he was in law enforcement too, as an officer with the CBSA.

The CBSA confirmed to us that Gagliardi is an officer, though he is on medical leave. Gagliardi denied that he was facing any discipline, and the CBSA wouldn’t comment on that, citing privacy.

LENGTHY DELAYS ADD UP

Adams said he rented his lakefront home on Beachview Drive in St. Catharines for $4,000 a month in August 2020. When he tried to terminate it three months later, the disputed rent was more than $12,000.

By the LTB’s first order the following August, it had grown to more than $36,000. And by a hearing the following February, it was more than $72,000. In the final ruling of the board in April 2022, the LTB denied Gagliardi’s final request for review.

“It is undisputed that the Tenant owes substantial arrears, The Landlord alleges the arrears exceed $76,000, or more than twice the jurisdiction of the Board,” member Nancy Morris wrote in her decision.

But getting to that decision was a roundabout process. The tenants appealed the first decision against them in August 2021, setting up an entirely new hearing. Then in November 25, 2021, there was “inadequate time to complete the hearing and it was adjourned,” one ruling says.

The landlord didn’t make a new hearing on December 15, 2021, and it was punted to January 25, 2022. On that day Gagliardi said he was sick and failed to wake up, the documents say. The LTB issued a new order in February, and the tenant requested a review of that on the grounds that he had a stroke and wasn’t able to participate, the documents said.

The board member refused, saying, “It is undisputed that the tenant has not disclosed any documentary evidence of what illness he suffered on January 25, 2022.”

Gagliardi appealed to Divisional Court, which put a stay on the LTB’s order — but by May that stay had been removed and the order to evict was allowed to be carried out.

Video footage of an eviction in St. Catharines provided by landlord Mike Adams.

That eviction was recorded on video by Adams. The whole process took about 21 months.

GAGLIARDI’S RESPONSE

Gagliardi said he was trying to uphold his rights in the proceedings and was entitled to stand up for himself when he felt he wasn’t being treated fairly.

As for the property on Beachview Avenue, Gagliardi said he agreed to a lower rent thanks to COVID-19, and stayed there with a sick relative.

“I negotiated a good agreement,” Gagliardi said.

He claimed Adams raised the rent, and due to an illness, Gagliardi says he and his family couldn’t leave. He said that by appealing to Divisional Court, he is raising the stakes: the maximum that he can be ordered to pay at the LTB is $35,000, but there is no such maximum at Divisional Court.

Adams is worried he may never see the money. Adams, who operated the property through his company Smart Stays, recognized the role that the COVID-19 pandemic played in the lengthy proceeding.

“The maximum compensation would be $35,000. That’s a hard and fast rule that never changed under the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, which caused the LTB part of the delays.”

He said he wishes there was a way to easily look up tenants and their histories at the LTB so landlords could know what they were getting into.

As for CBSA discipline, the federal government is considering Bill C-20, which would make public any discipline faced by its border guards, similar to the system at the Toronto Police.

'SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES' SAYS LTB

Tribunals Ontario, which operates the LTB, told CTV News they are working to modernize their organization and adapt after the pandemic.

“Over the past two years, the LTB has experienced significant challenges that have impacted its caseload, including the five-month moratorium on eviction hearings from March to August 2020, resulting in the loss of 25,000 hearing time slots,” a spokesperson said.

New applications are currently being scheduled, on average, within six to eight months, the spokesperson said.

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