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Vancouver Island homeowners say renter used house to sell dogs, caused $30K damage

Comox Valley landlords are searching for a former renter – along with some answers.

The homeowners say when their tenant moved out they found their property had been trashed, and even used to house and sell dozens of large dogs.

The owner of the property, Leanne Jones, says she gets emotional when she sees the condition her home was left in.

“It’s a beautiful property and to just have somebody come in and be able to just abuse it and then just waltz right out is just ridiculous,” she said Tuesday.

The rural Courtenay property was only rented for five and a half months, but the damage is estimated at around $30,000.

“This is over the top," she said. "It’s not like, 'Oops I forgot to clean behind the stove,' right?”

According to Jones, the renters had more than 30 dogs in the house. One of those dogs allegedly chewed through a heat pump.

When a contractor came to fix it, he called the owner saying something no homeowner wants to hear: "Oh my God. You should see your house."

As Jones and her husband Shane Murdoch investigated further, the couple found posts online showing the property was being used to house and sell Belgian Malinois, herding dogs similar to German shepherds.

Attempts to get access to their home were deflected with COVID-19 protocols, and the locks were changed. The couple then tried going through the rental tenancy branch.

“They literally did nothing,” says Murdoch. “We repeatedly phoned them."

CTV News contacted the former tenant for comment. She says none of the allegations made by the homeowners are true.

B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon says he empathizes with the family and the difficulties they are having as landlords.

He says the branch is adding resources to strengthen the ability to respond to cases like this.

The ministry says it is doubling the size of its compliance and enforcement unit, and has so far hired 80 per cent of the positions promised by the minister in December.

“They should have field operators," said Murdoch. "A problem can be solved in 10 minutes, yet you’ve got to go through a month’s process."

Jones says she now knows why people leave their homes empty, risking the government’s vacancy tax.

“This place can sit empty and I’ll pay a ridiculous amount for my insurance because it’s empty before I’ll rent it again.” Top Stories

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