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BC tenancy branch catches up with repeat rent skippers

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A BC renter spurred a Residential Tenancy Branch investigation when he reported that his landlord threatened to change the locks.

But he quickly became the target when investigators found he wrote the landlord a fraudulent rent cheque.

Brandon Michael Garboury and his wife Karan Kathleen Varga took on the rental only three days before he reported the landlord to the Residential Tenancy Branch's enforcement arm, claiming the landlord threatened to lock them out.

They signed a sublease on June 13, 2023, paying the landlord with a $9,052 cheque, according to a recently published tenancy branch decision.

He told the landlord they were moving from Ontario and Gaboury's employer was paying for relocation. The cheque would have paid for two months' rent and the security deposit.

The cheque was refused by a bank teller and flagged as fraudulent. Gaboury then told the landlord, who is not named in the decision, they would e-transfer the payment. That didn't happen.

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Investigators then found he had lied about moving from Ontario.

Gaboury and Varga had just left another rental where they lived for three months without paying rent. The couple only paid $1,000 toward two-thirds of a security deposit in March 2023, ultimately owing that landlord more than $9,000.

After multiple attempts to have the rent paid, the landlord found the suite abandoned in early June.

After providing a fake cheque to the next landlord, then having an investigation turned against them, Gaboury and Varga signed an agreement to leave the second rental just over a week after moving in. On June 22, that suite was also empty.

Despite moving out six days earlier, Gaboury told investigators on June 28 they were still living in the rental unit and asked the investigator to "intervene" because the landlord locked them out. He stopped answering when the investigator asked for evidence.

Looking back on previous tenancy branch decisions, investigators found Gaboury skipped out on more than $13,000 in five previous tenancies from 2018 to 2021.

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Gaboury and Varga did not respond to investigators again after he gave them misleading information in June 2023.

It's not clear where they were living in BC, but court records tie Gaboury to the Metro Vancouver area since 2016. Vancouver police, which appeared to be keeping tabs on Gaboury, also told investigators he "fled" the province by mid-July.

One of the landlords claimed Gaboury and Varga stole appliances when they left, which was reported to police, according to the decision. The status of that investigation isn't clear.

Between the two tenancies, the tenancy branch found Gaboury and Varga owed $10,164 in total unpaid rent. One of those landlords, who wasn't paid for three months, also applied to the tenancy branch for an order that it be paid.

While it's not clear whether the tenancy branch ordered Gaboury and Varga repay that landlord, the enforcement wing of the agency ordered the couple pay fines to the province last month.

They were jointly fined $3,700 for failing to pay rent, while Gaboury alone was fined an additional $1,000 for lying to investigators.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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