Landlords blame a landlord’s double homicide of his tenants on the Landlord Tenant Board.
Aaron, 28, was an electrician. His fiancee Carissa, 27, was an educational assistant. The couple lived together in a basement apartment in Hamilton Ontario. They approached their landlord, who lived upstairs, with a health and safety concern about mould in their rental unit.
No one knows exactly what was said, but we do know that the landlord drew a firearm and, while the couple tried to flee to safety, running across the lawn to get away from the building, shot them both in the back until they were dead. Then he went back inside, barricaded the door, and, once they arrived, exchanged gunfire with police officers until he also perished.
Observers noted that media coverage involved the use of passive voice similar to that we usually see in news headlines about police shootings, with headlines like “Two tenants, landlord dead following dispute” rather than a far more informative and accurate “landlord murders tenants before dying in shootout with police.” But the facts are undisputed. Who do you think is at fault?
If you’re like me, you believe it’s wrong to resolve disputes with violence. That it’s wrong to shoot an unarmed couple in the back. You see the landlord as a murderer. You also remember that Ontario has a Landlord Tenant Board to resolve disputes between renters and property owners without bloodshed. You feel empathy for a young couple who were just hoping to meet the basic human need for safe shelter as they tried to make a life for themselves together. You perhaps imagine the terror they must have felt as they fled for their lives and bullets ripped through their flesh.
Perhaps if you’re a landlord, however, or definitely if you’re Varun Sriskanda, a board member of the not-for-profit landlord advocacy organization Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario, you blame the Landlord Tenant Board itself. Clearly the man who pulled the trigger and ultimately ended three lives was just forced to euphemistically “take matters into his own hands” because the backlog of cases at the LTB tribunal which began with Covid is so frustrating that the impulse to murder his tenants became perfecty understandable, if not inevitable.