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Coronavirus: Markham, Ont., landlord in eviction fight with real estate agent

Coronavirus: Markham landlord in eviction fight with real estate agent
WATCH: A Markham woman says she doesn't know where else to turn after her tenant refuses to move out or pay rent. She also said the tenant is asking for money to even talk. As Albert Delitala explains, COVID-19 restrictions make a resolution unlikely anytime soon.

A Markham, Ont. woman says she has been struggling for months to evict a non-paying tenant who she previously used as her real estate agent — a fight with no clear end as landlord-tenant hearings remain at a standstill amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Natalie Wild’s husband, Stefan, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in January, the family decided to downsize to a nearby rental property they own better suited to his needs.

“(Our current home) has a lot of stairs. He was unable to walk comfortably,” she said.

Wild said her tenant, Stacey Kelenjian, who was a friend, had initially agreed to move out by the end of April, but Wild claims when she mentioned her current home was listed with another agent, her attitude changed.

“She refused to acknowledge the forms,” Wild said.

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“She was verbally aggressive.”

READ MORE: Toronto homeowners fight to evict tenant ‘taking advantage’ of COVID-19

Weeks later, Wild said Kelenjian — who is a real estate agent registered to Century 21 – Leading Edge Realty Inc. in Scarborough, Ont. — sent her an email saying she was “blind sided” by the decision to sell the home though a different agent, since she had tried selling the house for the family years earlier.

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The March 5 email ended by stating she would only continue discussing their disagreement over the rental condo after she is “compensated” $1,500 for her past work.

When rent came due in April, Wild said her tenant told her she could no longer pay because of COVID-19 loss of income and wouldn’t be moving out anytime soon.

“It’s really disheartening that someone is taking pure advantage of a really terrible situation,” Wild alleged.

Stacey Kelenjian is a real estate agent registered to Century 21 – Leading Edge Realty Inc. in Scarborough, Ont. Source: HomeFinder.ca
Stacey Kelenjian is a real estate agent registered to Century 21 – Leading Edge Realty Inc. in Scarborough, Ont. Source: HomeFinder.ca. Source: HomeFinder.ca
Stacey Kelenjian is a real estate agent registered to Century 21 – Leading Edge Realty Inc. in Scarborough, Ont. Source: HomeFinder.ca

In a conversation over the phone on Thursday, Kelenjian declined an interview. Despite her email to Wild, she denied she demanded payment as a condition to negotiating her eviction. She called Wild a bully and said she failed to find a solution.

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In mid-March, the Ontario government suspended most in-person landlord and tenant hearings and enforcement of evictions as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Harry Fine, a Toronto paralegal who specializes in landlord-tenant issues, said the existing backlog of cases is quickly growing amid the pandemic, leaving the system in a “crisis state.”

“It’s beyond description,” he said, “the problem for landlords who are going to lose their properties and tenants who are going to lose their homes.”

READ MORE: Brockville Ont., area politicians urge federal government for rent relief program

Wild’s husband died from cancer in April. She is now seeking to evict for non-payment rather than to move into the unit.

Wild has filed a complaint to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) regarding Kelenjian.

In an email to Global News, the council said, “RECO is aware of the situation and is actively looking into the matter. Due to the active status of the file we cannot release any further details.”

Kelenjian’s brokerage, Century 21 – Leading Edge Realty, did not return a phone call or email by deadline.

Wild said she hopes to put this chapter behind her soon.

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“I still have bills to pay,” she said.

“I have condo fees on the unit as well as the monthly mortgage fee and that’s completely now shouldered by myself.”