Abbotsford landlord feels ‘violated,’ calling for stricter bylaws for grow-op renters

An Abbotsford resident said he feels violated and unprotected after discovering a renter used one of his properties for a marijuana grow-op – leaving him to clean up the mess and foot the bill.

  • Jun. 16, 2011 9:00 a.m.
Sukhvinder Kahlon believes better bylaws are needed to protect landlords.

Sukhvinder Kahlon believes better bylaws are needed to protect landlords.

An Abbotsford resident said he feels violated and unprotected after discovering a renter used one of his properties for a marijuana grow-op – leaving him to clean up the mess and foot the bill.

Sukhvinder Kahlon, a local berry farmer, believes better bylaws need to be implemented to protect landlords and hold criminals accountable.

After police raided the home at 33848 Marshall Rd. at the end of March, Kahlon received a bill for $2,300 in policing fees, which he feels he shouldn’t have to pay.

He said he also has to cover another $6,200 in expenses ranging from restoration to builder inspection fees.

“The property owners are the victims of grow-ops,” said Kahlon, who presented his case to council on Monday afternoon.

“It’s guilt by association.”

Kahlon said he will pay the bill, but still wants a bylaw in place where landlords only have to pay if they are found guilty in connection to the grow-op. Otherwise, the tenants should pay the fees.

Kahlon said he tried contacting the tenants, but they never responded. He’s still unclear whether they were arrested.

He also suggested a registry listing the names of those who have been busted in grow-ops, providing landlords with a better way to check their tenants.

In this case, Kahlon had the tenants fill out an application form before moving in last February.

“You can only do so much due diligence,” he said. “At one time a handshake deal with people would be good enough, when people were honest and decent. But these guys are smarter than us – they put the time and work in and they know the system better than us.”

Following the raid, Kahlon walked through the house to see the condition it was in, which included unsafe electrical wiring and circuits added without a permit.

“I felt violated,” he said.

“It’s a trust you put into people, if you’re renting it for people to live in. It really hurts you and your pride.”

While Kahlon has heard of landlords doing criminal checks, he’s worried that it will scare people away, as there are still plenty of good renters out there.

“It’s always the luck of the draw with what kind of tenants they will be.”

The rising number of grow-ops in Abbotsford has caused many to get out of the rental business, said Kahlon.

He adds that he would like to get out as well, but can’t simply walk away from his properties.

For now, Kahlon is taking this as a “rough” educational curve, and hopes it will prevent other landlords from the same experience.