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Fighting for landlords’ rights

in To Each Their Own by

Raise the red flag! To the barricades! No taxation without representation! No pasaran! Every man a king! Je suis Rob! Vive le landlord libre!

Yes comrades, the revolution is here!

And I’m all about it. It’s about time somebody’s doing something to take care of the poor struggling landlords in this province. For too long have we toiled under the brutish chains of the free market. For too long have minimum-wage earning tenants terrorized those they rent from. For too long have the peasants ruled the roost—now the landlords’ day has come!

The recent establishment of a Landlords’ Rights Association could not come at a better time. As their Facebook site rightly observes, laws in this province are skewed terribly in favour of the tenant. Why, back in the good old ‘30s it was possible to turf out entire families onto the street on an hour’s notice. Back then, all it took was a good posse and a few coins in the copper’s pocket. These days…one must abide by the law. What is happening with society?

Today’s landlord is a poor and misunderstood creature. Rarely has history visited such a maligned perception on a struggling class. People appear to think that just because somebody has enough money to purchase a house—or even a second house, or a third or a fourth—that they should be able to handle the responsibilities that go along with it too. Yes, comrades—the tyranny of responsibility! Should we have to pay for extra measures to protect our investments, out of our own pockets, just because we’re privileged and have chosen to own property and make a bit of money off of the people who live in it? Should we have to expend profit for the sake of protection? Purchasing renter’s insurance, for instance, to protect against damage done by unruly tenants? Do you know how much that costs?

What we should do, says I, is allow landlords to do credit checks. This would greatly aid us in winnowing out our tenants. We would be able to exclude the poor, new immigrants and nefarious young students with no credit history, university graduates whose student debt drove them to bankruptcy, unemployed trades workers from the mega-projects who got laid off one week too many and missed a payment on the loan they took out to buy their tools. Do we really want such people renting our pre-fab clapboard homes, anyway? Book-learned folks who might have the temerity to object to a bit of mold? (Mold is the oldest form of green technology, sure!) Upstarts with the audacity to demand a cracked window replacement, when a bit of duct tape and plastic wrap would do just as well? Is that who we want living under our roofs—irritants who disrupt our sanctitude just because that roof is leaking a little bit? (Roof’s gotta breathe, sure!) To quote Braveheart—FREEEEEEEDOM! (What’s that? You say Braveheart actually led an army of tenant farmers against the brutish British landlords who occupied their land? Nonsense! He was simply a pre-landlord, fighting for the freedom of Scots to be landlords on their own turf!)

What’s that you say? What about slumlords? Sure, sure, there may be slumlords, but in all honesty there’s only a few bad apples, and besides there’s laws to deal with them. The tenant just needs to make a bit of effort and use those laws to protect themselves.

And besides, there’s more than just landlords at stake here. There’s an entire system of privilege to defend. Oppression of the landlords threatens another very important struggling class—the real estate agent. Can you envision a world with no real estate agents, smiling benignly down upon you as you drive by their placards? Without a market for real estate agents, whatever would retired schoolteachers and government consultants and other people who dress in tacky shades and odd moustaches do to afford their winter-homes in Florida? No, if the landlords are threatened, the very structure of society is threatened. We must do this great thing not just for the landlords, but for all the property-owning and champagne-swilling classes that rely upon them.

A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work!

(And believe you me, buying and selling houses might not require university degrees or even proficiency in a trade, but boy is it ever work. The irregular hours—sometimes all of two or three hours in a day!—the creative cover-ups of mouse-holes and rotting foundations, the need to feign enthusiasm and appreciation for trite wood-paneling and ’80s-era ceiling fixtures that should never have seen the light of day…yes, selling houses is true labour.)

But so is owning them, and renting them out to tenants. The tyranny of the tenant is an intractable one. Why, just consider the injustices and oppressions that have been chained around the shoulders of landlords in recent years, the tyrannies visited upon us:

We can only raise rent once a year.

If a tenant unreasonably interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of a landlord or other tenant, we can only evict them with five days’ notice.

If a tenant violates statutory conditions pertaining to keeping the premises clean and undamaged, and fails to rectify the problem within three days of having been notified, we can only evict them with five days’ notice! That’s almost an entire week.

If a tenant is late with their rent, we can only charge up to $75 in late fees! And then give them 10 days’ notice of eviction!

We can charge security deposits, but must pay interest upon them when we return them! And do you know how much the government has set that interest at?

Zero per cent!

Which is to say, it might not hurt our pocket-book, but it sure as dang hurts our feelings!

But most nefariously of all…in order to claim these rights, it’s up to us to take the initiative! Whatever happened to the nanny state that was supposed to do our work for us, or even the good old Depression-era state where the police would politely look the other way while you rounded up a posse to turf your tenants out on the street if better-paying ones came along?

The tyrannies abound. Society thinks that just because we’re the ones pocketing their money, we are the dominant ones in the relationship. But in truth it is they, the terrifying tenants, who tyrannize us at the same time as they mask their vile oppression in hordes of cash.

Today’s landlord is stuck in the worst of all societies: the law-abiding one. The one least amenable to the almighty corrupting correcting power of the dollar.

And it’s time for that to change!

All power to the landlords! Owners of property (and undeveloped lots), unite! Peace, bread, and credit checks!

Viva la revolucion!

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