Tenant who turned 12 luxury homes into rooming houses was ordered to pay $ 36,000 or spend time in jail

In Markham, Ont. the man who rented a dozen luxury homes and turned them into rooming houses was ordered to pay homeowners $ 36,000 in restitution within 10 days or be arrested and jailed for four months.

The sentence comes after Arif Adnan Syed was found in contempt of court last month for failing to comply with an Ontario Superior Court of Justice order requiring him to convert all properties back to single-family residences .

In a scathing nine-page ruling, Judge Mark Edwards made it clear that he did not accept Syed’s claim that he was in financial difficulty or that Syed had done his best to clear the homes of the occupants.

“The fact that Syed has continued to accept rent is another reflection of his true intentions,” said Edwards. “Syed had no intention of restoring the residences to their old status of single-family residences until he looked at the barrel of a contempt motion. ”

In terms of finances, the Superior Court judge said that Syed’s own testimony shows he is not struggling. Syed testified that he received an average of $ 500 per month for each room he rented and therefore could have earned approximately $ 40,000 per month for all of the properties when he had 90 tenants.

$ 208K deposited into a bank account in 1 month

Syed’s bank account statements also show total monthly deposits ranging from around $ 30,000 to $ 208,000 and total monthly withdrawals as high as $ 216,000 in the months he rented at least some of the luxury homes.

“What the bank account statements appear to reveal are substantial cash withdrawals during the currency of Syed’s fraud he perpetrated on the plaintiffs,” Edwards said.

WATCH | The owners who have rented their accommodation inspect the damage:

John Davies and Titi Zhang are among 12 people who have rented houses from Arif Adnan Syed. He then turned them into illegal rooming houses. A Superior Court judge ordered the homes to be restored to single-family homes and terminated Syed’s leases. 1:00

One regular transaction the judge found notable was a monthly lease payment of $ 5,123, which Edwards said was “presumably the monthly lease of Syed’s Lamborghini sports car.”

“The fact that Syed is renting a Lamborghini sports car does not live up to his claim that he is ‘struggling’,” the judge said.

In a telephone interview after Wednesday’s hearing, Syed told CBC News he was in financial trouble now, but was not at the time of the bank statements.

“I respect the court decision and started working on it,” he said. “And I’ll do my best to get the restitution paid within 10 days.” ”

Homeowners say homes sustained up to $ 1 million in damage

Despite the strong words, Edwards’ decision is all bark and no bite in the eyes of at least one of the owners.

We will be paid less than [Syed] pays monthly to rent his precious Lamborghini.– John Davies

John Davies said the judge’s $ 36,000 in restitution is “ridiculous” given how little each of the 12 homeowners will get to help restore their homes once the funds are distributed among them.

« [The judge] said he was going to award substantial damages, and we are insulted with a payment of $ 3,000 per house, “Davies said.” We are going to be paid less than [Syed] pays monthly to rent his precious Lamborghini. ”

John Davies, who rented his Thornhill, Ont., Home in Syed, said the judge’s $ 36,000 in restitution was “ridiculous” given the little each of the 12 homeowners will receive to help restore their home an once the funds are distributed among them. (Keith Whelan / CBC)

CBC News has previously reported on Davies and other homeowners’ efforts to reclaim their luxury homes after Edwards canceled their leases at the end of September. The owners say the illegal rooming houses have caused up to $ 1 million in damage to their 12 properties in Richmond Hill, Markham and Thornhill, all located in the Greater Toronto Area.

The remaining occupants of three of the 12 homes are expected to be evicted on Thursday.

Syed also faces 17 fraud-related criminal charges for allegedly using false identity documents in his house rental applications. None of the charges have been proven in court.

Sanction means “harmful activities” will continue

Davies told CBC News Syed owed him $ 40,000 – a year’s rent – and estimates it would cost $ 70,000 to $ 80,000 to repair rooming house damage to his Thornhill home.

“This is a recipe for the courts to encourage criminals to continue their nefarious activities,” he said. “Other people are going to say, ‘My God, I can do that too. I can start doing this because I can get away with it. ‘ ”

In his ruling, Edwards said the restitution money was intended to give homeowners “a way to clean up and begin repairing their homes” because it was “impossible” to determine the damage to all properties. based on the evidence. at the contempt hearing.

Davies estimates it will cost $ 70,000 to $ 80,000 to repair the damage the rooming house has caused to his home in Thornhill, north of Toronto. (Yanjun Li / CBC)

The judge said damages claims will have to be made “as the action goes.”

In addition to the $ 36,000 restitution, Edwards also ordered Syed to pay $ 65,000 in legal fees for the proceedings, including an overdue payment of $ 15,000 that he had previously been ordered.

Syed told CBC News he worked on paying the restitution first and then turned to legal fees.

Davies said he didn’t think Syed would pay the fees. But even if they get paid, the homeowner said he won’t cover all the legal fees he and the other homeowners have accrued trying to get their home back.

“How the hell can anyone get away with this level of fraud, dishonesty and criminal activity – and the innocent have to pay for it?” ” he said.

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