Landlords and estate agents have a nasty habit of flouting their own legal obligations with one hand while enforcing the tenant’s obligations with the other. (While I wasn’t attempting a visual metaphor, I have to say the image I conjured up in writing that sentence doesn’t displease me.)

Like every other landlord and estate agent I’ve ever known, Barbara Porteous of Moody’s Real Estate flagrantly abused the rights of tenants but was oh so quick to invoke her own rights when it suited her.  Having consistently refused to undertake necessary repairs and maintenance (“We won’t ask the landlord to spend too much money,” said Babs), then having imposed a vindictive rent increase on us when we arranged for our oven to be repaired when she wouldn’t, dear Babs had no pause in demanding that we comply with our obligations as tenants.

Now, the landlords at this place were always hanging around their tiny fiefdom making a nuisance of themselves, filling up our rubbish bin with garden debris, parking in the driveway, etc. etc.  I swear they spent more time at our place than they did in their own homes. As an added nuisance one landlord frequently brought around a Rottweiler dog to roam around unrestrained.  For fear of being savaged of the thing, the tenants and their pets – you know, those of us who actually did have some right to be there – had to stay indoors until the landlord took it back to his own place where it belonged.   Such was the character of this creep that he fronted up, unannounced and uninvited, to the home of an applying tenant to “see how she kept the place.”

Even so, I gave our landlord the benefit of the doubt.  When the estate agent refused repairs I contacted him myself and left a message on his answering machine letting him know of her conduct. The next day the estate agent called to abuse me.  The landlord was absolutely furious with me, she said. How dare I – how dare I – intrude on the home of this very same creep who was always sniffing around my home? (An interesting note: while the landlord who illegally trespasses on my home may face a fine of $500.00, should I trespass on his, I may be fined $2,000.00.  Additionally, no matter how egregious his illegal trespass on my home – whether he has let himself without giving notice while I am in the shower, for example – serving a restraining order on him only restricts illegal entry.  He maintains all legal rights to enter as accorded by the Residential Tenancies Act.)

According to Babs though, the problem here wasn’t that she, the property manager was refusing to meet her legal obligations, but rather that, I, the tenant, had “problems with Moody’s that no-one could resolve.”  Well, yes, they could have been resolved by the landlord and agent observing the terms of the legally binding lease they had entered into without any intention of honouring it.

But Babs, bless her, never once let her own misconduct inform her sense of entitlement, innovative even by real estate agent standards.  Scheduling her inspections mid-afternoon to avoid returning to the office, she habitually stayed far longer than necessary – over an hour, and sometime several hours, to inspect a two bedroom unit – sitting herself down on the couch for a conversation she was neither welcome to or invited for.  Then, despite the definitions set out in the Residential Tenancies Act, Babs liked to be very specific about the cleaning she arbitrarily required: namely that the kitchen ceiling fan (which exhausted straight into the roof cavity instead of outside, thereby attracting mice) be pulled down and washed every month.

When we left the property, the very same agent who had no compunctions in leaving us without a working oven at Easter, without working locks, with a power point hanging out of a wall, who had no qualms of conscience about the fan that fell out of the ceiling and crashed into the shower because it had been installed by an unqualified handyman, no qualms of conscience in hitting us with a vindictive rent increase for arranging our own repairs  – that very same agent demanded that we made sure to dust the skirting boards on our way out.