Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jul 2009
Source: Vaughan Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Multimedia Nova Corporation
Page: 1
Author: Corey Lewis


Vaughan Man On The Hook After Tenant Grows Marijuana In Home

Hassan Farooq has a warning for landlords: Don't trust anybody.

Since December 2007, the Vaughan resident has spent countless months 
in court fending off fire code violations after a tenant turned his 
Vaughan Mills and Rutherford Rds. area home into a marijuana grow-op.

His 75-year-old tenant's illegal enterprise destroyed the home - 
which was next door to Farooq's own house - causing mould to form all 
over the structure and water to enter the lights.

Farooq felt victimized by the legal process and found his courtroom 
experience extremely stressful, he said.

And it cost him $140,000 to remediate the property. "There's no 
recovery, there's nobody to back us up financially," Farooq said. "If 
it was some regular Joe working 9-5, he couldn't afford the $140,000.

"It's over. My life savings are gone."

Farooq is just one of many unsuspecting landlords caught having to 
clean up the mess their tenants left behind. Though his tenant faces 
numerous drug charges, Farooq was slapped with fire code violations, 
and left with a building in disrepair and a gigantic bill.

As part of a court-ordered agreement, Farooq shared his story with 
the media Wednesday at city hall. Fitting, since he learned of his 
tenant's arrest on the news.

A knock on the door by fire officials soon after brought news that 
he, too, was facing charges. Cost to homeowners is huge

Landlords have to be vigilant to ensure they don't fall victim, said 
Vaughan Fire Chief Greg Senay.

"They need to monitor the property," Senay said. "They need to be 
aware that these activities may be taking place. And, frankly, they 
need to call the police.

"These people are destroying landlords' property. It's a huge investment."

The biggest remediation expense is repairing the significant mould 
damage to the building, which eats its way through the wood, Senay 
said. To get the property into tip-top shape, drywall has to come 
down, supports have to be replaced, and the ductwork and electrical 
wiring have to be reworked.

Since 2007, there have been 52 grow-op cases in Vaughan, 32 of which 
have been remediated, Senay said. Eleven buildings are in the process 
of remediation, three homes have been demolished and seven cases are 
still before the courts.

Neighbours should stay on the lookout for suspicious behaviour, said 
Ontario Fire Marshal Pat Burke.

Obvious signs of a grow-op include people coming and going at odd 
hours of the day and night, indications of family activity but no 
family, and houses with roofs strangely clear of snow when nearby 
residences are covered in the white stuff.

Farooq said he had no idea his tenant, a kindly man who he regarded 
as a grandfather figure, was capable of this. Everything, including 
the dangerous rewiring, was hidden from him.

"If you can hear this, grandpa, you know what you did," Farooq said.
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