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Farzad Lahouti bought a brand new condo on the 38th floor of the luxury 1 Bloor St. E. building as an investment during the pre-construction phase.

He says the one plus one unit — which rents for $2,650 a month — has a south view that overlooks  Lake Ontario.

His tenant paid rent for 1 1/2 years. But she suddenly stopped with her March 15, 2020 rent payment, even before the lockdown was declared, he said.

Because he thought they had a “good relationship,” he waited and trusted her promises that she’d pay eventually.

But Lahouti soon discovered the cheques were bouncing and he got notice the “account was closed.”

He said he filed for a hearing on May 5 with the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

He finally got a hearing on Nov. 27. In the interim, he said he communicated with her by email, but she changed her phone number and her bank account.

Lahouti won the hearing in November but didn’t get his eviction order from the LTB until Feb. 10.

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She owes him $31,828, according to the eviction order.

After waiting 10 days to give her an opportunity to pay up, he said he went to the Sheriff’s office on University Ave.

But again he said he was told they couldn’t do anything until the lockdown opens up — and even when that happened, they would be backlogged with cases dating to before Christmas.

Meanwhile, he said they did two inspections in February — after giving her 72-hour notice and not getting a reply.

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What he says he found was surprising perhaps to me but not to the paralegal firm that has been assisting him.

Lahouti said it was clear she’s renting to other people.

He said he could see from the clothes, there was nothing belonging to a woman in the condo.

“It was all men’s shoes,” he said, noting it appears that a young man is living there.

He believes she’s actually “making money” off the condo while he cools his own heels waiting for the Sheriff to evict her.

When he asked the property management not to let whoever is living there to use the fob, they were reluctant to get involved.

He feels it is easy for tenants to take advantage of the Residential Tenancies Act which is “so lopsided” against landlords.

Lahouti said he’s still on the hook for the condo fees, the mortgage payments and the damages — which include holes punched in doors of a condo that was brand new when the tenant moved in.

He even tried several times to reach out to the digital marketing company she worked for, but they have not responded.

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This is yet another horror story brought on by the various COVID lockdowns. The impression tenants got a year ago that they don’t have to pay their rent during COVID and an LTB that for all intents and purposes comes across as a hot mess.

David Ciobataru, a paralegal who runs D&D associates, says the system is definitely “open to abuse” especially with the delays at every step of the way from getting hearings with the LTB and obtaining a copy of an eviction order to getting the Sheriff out to conduct an eviction.

“Times are bad for landlords, too,” he said.

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  2. This photo supplied by a Mississauga landlord named Jim shows the mess left behind by a tenant.

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LTB officials, which initially took a week to respond to my requests in February, put the blame on COVID for “unavoidable service delays.”

Janet Deline, speaking on behalf of the board, said that despite the challenges, Tribunals Ontario quickly created and implemented new strategies to serve Ontario residents — including hearings by telephone and online.

SLevy@postmedia.com

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