Tenants have fewer protections than 'animals,' Saskatoon lawyer says
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon lawyer says there are few legal deterrents for landlords who repeatedly violate regulations.
A home that went up into flames Tuesday is owned by Grover Holdings - a company that has had more than 150 convictions for bylaw and property offences since 1993, according to court documents.
While a man has been charged with arson in this most recent fire, a blaze swept through the same home in the 1800 block of Avenue D North in 2012, leaving a 60-year-old man dead.
Another home owned by Jack Grover, who operates the business, was the site of a 2005 fire where two children were killed.
"Vulnerable tenants have fewer protections than we have for animals in our society and when you think about it there is the ability for people to be banned from owning animals and keeping animals," Saskatoon lawyer Brian Pfefferle said when asked about the pattern of incidents connected to Grover.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, every person who contravenes the act and is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction in a case of a corporation to a fine not exceeding $1,000; or for an individual, a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment for not more than six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.
"There’s only so much the system can do," Pfefferle said. "If (a landlord) was to be convicted of a criminal offence, the longest probation is three years."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said there currently is no regulatory board for landlords in Saskatchewan and there is no authority to suspend or resume a landlord’s authority.
However, penalties are much stiffer for the mistreatment of animals under the Animal Protection Act, 2018.
Don Ferguson, executive director with Animal Protection Service of Saskatchewan, said pet owners who break the act can face a lifetime ban and a maximum fine of $25,000 but it depends on the sentencing judge and Crown.