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‘We need to occupy the house’: Ontario landlord says tenant won’t leave

A Brampton, Ont. woman and her husband say they’re out more than $22,000 in unpaid rent and can’t occupy their only home because a tenant has refused to leave since he was asked to move.

“We need to occupy the house,” said Yvonne Folkes, describing months of frustration attempting to get access to her home again.

Folkes and her husband rented out the semi-detached Brampton home, their principal residence, to Hermann Founiapte Dakono for about $3,200 a month. She described him as a “good tenant” until she says he refused to move out and abruptly stopped paying rent or paying for some utilities as required.

Folkes and her husband had been living temporarily at another nearby home with other family members and the rent was being applied to their monthly mortgage payments, she said.

While their tenant is not paying, she says the family is dipping into their credit line to cover the expense.

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“It’s challenging, depressing, hard,” Folkes told Global News in an interview in April after she hired a paralegal in an attempt to get the tenant out.

“We need them out,” Folkes explained, frustrated by a series of ongoing delays with the landlord and tenant board.

According to Folkes, the tenant, who signed a lease agreement as Hermann Founiapte, insisted that the tribunal hearing involving his case be conducted in French, his first language, although he speaks English and has communicated with Folkes exclusively in English.

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Global News attempted to get comment from Founiapte at his home. Someone inside the house called Peel Regional Police claiming there was a break-in when a crew showed up at the front door.

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When two police cruisers arrived minutes later, officers interviewed Founiapte, who eventually came outside on the driveway for an interview.

Asked why he hadn’t paid rent since October of 2023, Founiapte blamed Folkes.

“She told me she didn’t want me to pay,” he told a reporter, insisting Folkes returned his post-dated cheques at the time.

But Founiapte continued to live at the home with a female partner and a child for more than seven months.

Neighbours and Folkes claim others are living in the home, too, some of whom have their own keys, according to neighbours.

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“We have a building in Hamilton, (she) can wait until summer; when it’s built, we’ll get out,” he said, explaining they are constructing their own home in the city west of Toronto.

Founiapte has not cited an inability to pay rent; he drives a red, late-model Dodge Ram pickup that is parked on the driveway. Founipate runs a trucking company.

“No, no, no, I’m not scared of talking to you,” Founiapte tells a Global News reporter.

He says he’s familiar with the rules that govern landlord-tenant relations in Ontario, when asked if he knows “the system.”

“Of course, I have to know,” Founiapte said.

Kevin Costain, author of From Rent to Ruin, says some tenants are betraying the trust of small landlords, many of whom have rented out their only home, as Folkes did.

“You can get away with not paying rent for a year now, ” Costain said, referring to the bureaucracy and backlog in the system, a particular challenge for people like Folkes and her husband.

Costain says he made a mistake by renting his home out to a tenant whose son caused serious damage to the house and was later charged with arson.

He warns about the potential risks of renting a property to a tenant who could be trouble down the road.

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“A landlord burned like I have (been), I can’t do it again, the fear would terrorize me,” Costain said.

Folkes’s tenant was asked by Global News if he will ever pay the back rent and unpaid utilities.

“We are going to go to the court and the judge will decide if I’m wrong or not,” he said.

“I’m going to stay here until the decision comes from the court,” he added, referring to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Founiaipte then climbed into his pickup truck and went to work, as Folkes and her husband shouted “liar” at him from the sidewalk, while two Peel Regional Police constables reminded her that there was nothing they could do to assist and urged the couple to keep the peace.

“We need them out, we need the house, we need the rent,” she told the officers.

The hearing is scheduled for June 4.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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