Help Stop Mike O'Dea's Unjust and Illegal Treatment of Tenants
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* Below is a copy of a letter sent to the owner of Hanlon Realty. If you support this letter and want to see an end to the mistreatment of tenants by Mike O'Dea & Debbie Hollett please sign below *
To: Wayne Hanlon (Owner of Hanlon Realty)
CC: NL Association or Realtors (NLAR), and Service NL
Re: Realtor Debbie Hollett
My name is Sherwin Flight. I am the administrator of the Newfoundland Tenant & Landlord Support Group. We are a collective of over 15,000 landlords and tenants from across Newfoundland & Labrador.
I’m writing you today regarding the actions and conduct of Debbie Hollett, a Realtor currently employed by Hanlon Realty in St. John’s. Not only have her actions made her untrustworthy but it appears as though Ms. Hollett may also be brushing aside the Realtor Code of Ethics while conducting business on behalf of what appears in some cases to be Hanlon Realty. Based on numerous reports from tenants Ms. Hollett may also be failing to uphold her obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, if she is acting as or on behalf of the landlord, and potentially breaking the Criminal Code of Canada in some cases as well.
Before we get into the details much further it’s important to understand the history and context of this issue.
Mike O’Dea has been a landlord in St. John’s for many years. He has earned a reputation as one of the worst landlords in St. John’s and across the province.
Over the eight years that we’ve been running the Newfoundland Tenant & Landlord Support Group we have received more complaints about Mr. O’Dea than any other landlord, by far. These complaints include things such as harassment of tenants, physically assaulting tenants, illegally entering rental units unannounced and without proper notice, failing to return security deposits or making a claim for them as required by law, failing to maintain properties in a condition suitable for habitation, and the list goes on.
These problems go beyond just complaints from tenants as well. In one case he was offering to rent a unit that the City of St. John’s deemed unsafe to live in because of a risk of catastrophic collapse. Mr. O’Dea purchased the property knowing its condition and completed work on it without the necessary permits. This prompted one City Councillor to call the situation “borderline criminal”. Mr. O’Dea was also charged with impersonating and defrauding his deceased father as well, though the charges were later dropped and he faced a single charge of theft instead.
Mr. O’Dea was most recently in the news for what appears to be an attempt to hijack a successful local business, International Flavours, from under the legitimate owner’s nose.
In many of these cases involving residential tenants, and in the most recent case with the commercial tenant mentioned above, there is another name that comes up often. Debbie Hollett. That’s why I’m writing you today.
While I’m not 100% sure what the connection is between Ms. Hollett and Mr. O’Dea, one thing is apparent based on the complaints we’ve received: She doesn’t always seem to be acting professionally, honestly, or appropriately in her dealings with many tenants. In the words of one of our members: “Debbie is Mike’s partner in crime”.
Here is a random selection of just some of the things we’ve heard:
- “She rented a slum to me last summer didn’t tell me who the landlord was and never gave me my copy of the rental agreement I was told all repairs would be done nothing was done I had to fight with her to install smoke detectors!!!!”
- “She showed us an apartment when we were looking for our son (MUN student). The apartment was in shambles, but she said it would be all fixed in 2 weeks. When we left, my husband said not a chance! He knew the work could not be completed in 4 weeks, let alone 2!”
- “Rented from Mike O'Dea on Queen Street. He spammed my phone at 6:30am and repeatedly knocked on my door, all so he could put a sign up in my window. Debbie would let herself into my apartment if I didn't hear the door. Wouldn't fix a single thing in the apartment, stopped answering my calls/emails and kept my entire damage deposit.”
- “She’s been working with him for years. I moved out for the first time in 2010 (fresh out of high school) and didn’t know what to look for when apartment hunting. Myself and my at the time boyfriend rented an apartment from her and Mike O’Dea. We moved out 2 days later when we opened a room on the back of the kitchen to discover it was rotted out and infested. Front door had been kicked in at one point and the place was a slum. Never again.”
- “Nope [she] never did [tell us who the landlord was]. She also a couple years in told us she wasn’t taking care of our rental anymore and we had to deal with several people after. Towards the end they even had us send rent money to another random person they claimed was the landlord. Ended up ultimately dealing with Mike at the end.”
- “She is a god awful woman. Dealt with her back in 2006-2009. Had to call the cops.”
Perhaps most concerning for Hanlon Realty are the comments like this:
- “I was renting a place from her assuming it was with Hanlon reality as she was wearing that jacket and works with them as we had googled her name. We went to sign the lease a few days later without actually looking at who the property was rented by, and turns out it was “downtown property management” with the famous Mike O’Dea. She is STILL renting out properties for him as well.”
Mr. O’Dea is causing a tremendous amount of trouble and grief for people and has been for years. He’s able to do that, in part, because Ms. Hollett is often the face of the operation and people are unaware of her connection to Mr. O’Dea. Making it worse is that she appears to be conducting business on behalf of Hanlon Realty, at least in some of these cases.
To use an analogy, if Mr. O’Dea were a bank robber, Ms. Hollett would be driving the getaway car, and it would be a car they borrowed from Hanlon Realty with their logo all over the side of it.
The messages, comments, and noise that we’re hearing asking us to “do something about Mike O’Dea” are getting louder, and rightfully so. These problems have gone on far too long already due to the lack of any legislation to address landlords like this. However, that doesn’t justify others aiding and abetting him in the process to make a quick buck.
Ms. Hollett is just as bad as Mr. O’Dea is in terms of the trouble being caused to tenants. She’s often the one pulling the wool over the tenant’s eyes and purposely trying to withhold information from tenants about who the actual landlord is. And if she’s doing that decked out in Hanlon Realty gear, then Hanlon Realty is part of this as well, whether they want to be or not.
The Hanlon Realty name and logo is helping Ms. Hollett gain trust with people and in most cases this comes back to bite the tenant in the behind down the road. When people search for Debbie Hollett online when deciding if they should do business with her, they’re finding a smiling photo of her on the Hanlon Realty website. In addition, the website lists that she has won awards such as “Hanlon Horizon Award, Hanlon Crest Award, Pinnacle Performance Service Award, The Jacqueline Souliers Award, Certificate of Appreciation, Million Dollar Club, Worn Out Shoe Award, Hanlon Realty Horizon Award”. It ultimately leaves people with the impression that she’s far more credible and trustworthy than she has been in a lot of cases, based on the many stories we’ve heard.
The Hanlon Realty website, Ms. Hollett’s wearing of Hanlon Realty clothing, and her association with Hanlon Realty in general are all things that she has used to gain the trust of unsuspecting individuals that later find out they’re renting from one of the worst landlords in the province.
The more we raise awareness of these issues and the connection between Mr. O’Dea and Ms. Hollett, the worse it’s going to look on Hanlon Realty for being connected to any of this in any way. And raise awareness of this we will.
The reports we’ve heard over the years include things that appear to be violations of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Residential Tenancies Act. However, her actions and behaviour also seem to be contrary to the Realtor Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practises, which I found on the website of the NL Association of Realtors. It sums up the commitments of a Realtor as providing professional competent service, absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings, utmost civility, co-operation with and fairness to all, and personal accountability through compliance with CREA’s Standards of Business Practice. It appears as though Ms. Hollett is missing the mark on most, if not all, of these points.
A copy of this letter will be posted online so that others may also sign to show their support. This letter and any follow-up awareness and advocacy efforts have been brought about by countless complaints from our members (both landlords and tenants alike) and members of the general public. It’s important that they be able to get behind this cause and show their support as well.
At this point the ball is in Ms. Hollett & Hanlon Realty’s court. How we proceed from here will depend on whether these concerns are properly and adequately addressed. As long as she continues to help Mr. O’Dea cause grief for his tenants, Ms. Hollett will be a primary target of our advocacy efforts, and if Hanlon Realty chooses to sit idly by while all of this continues, they’re just as guilty. They’re the ones vouching for her credibility by having her employed, by listing a string of awards on her profile page on their website, and by association when Ms. Hollett shows up wearing Hanlon Realty clothing.
If Ms. Hollett is unwilling to make the right choice here, then Hanlon Realty should step up to the plate. If an individual Realtor wants to tarnish their own reputation, I suppose that’s a personal choice. However, the credibility of Hanlon Realty is on the line here also if they continue to support this kind of behaviour. That won’t go unnoticed.
Nobody should have to deal with trouble like this when it comes to something as essential to a person’s well-being as housing. It’s degrading, and I’d argue an infringement on a person’s most basic human rights. These issues need to be brought to an end, one way or another.
Newfoundland Tenant & Landlord Support Group
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