In the category of “it’s a crazy world” I have been following a story the past few days of this Alberta woman who rented a house to
man who later declared he was part of an organization known as “Freemen-of-the-Land” and he has now declared the house his embassy and she can’t get rid of him.
Apparently he looked like a normal enough guy when he rented the property in 2011. Said he was a handyman who could do some fix ups around the place — so it sounded like a good deal.
Shortly after he moved in he gutted the place, charged some of the work to the landlord, is now paying only half the agreed rent, and above all claims he is one of these “Freemen”, the house is his embassy and everyone needs to back off.
The landlord asked the police for help, she was told it was a civil matter, and although she obtained an eviction notice from the courts the tenant ignored that and continues to occupy the house.
What a bazaar story. A person just wants a normal landlord/tenant arrangement and she ends up with this nightmare. The media keeps referring to the landlord as a senior, which means she is at least 55 and obviously lost most of her faculties.
I had never heard of these Freemen-of-the-Land before, but the Law Society of B.C. (a province where many weird things happen) reports there are about 3,000 members in Canada. In the U.S. the FBI considers the movement a domestic terror threat, although a spokesman for the Freeman said they are a non-violent organization.
Violent or not if you got one of these birds renting the old farm house, or even the entire farm, we could see new republics springing up all across the country. Their philosophy seems to be “where I squat becomes mine.”
I am not a landlord but one of my first thoughts in this situation is a person might be tempted to use the business end of 12 gauge shotgun to encourage the tenant to pack his bags. Aside from the tough talk, I know that isn’t the solution. I’d be the one ending up in jail.
And I am sure even in this Alberta case there will be a legal remedy —eventually, but the poor Alberta landlord has been fighting this issue for two years, and when you’re over 55 stress isn’t a good thing.
So the moral of this story for farmers, only rent the old farmhouse or the farm out to your goofy son-in-law or Luke from the Colony, because at least they are known quantities. And really be leery of the stranger who rolls into the yard with a nice pickup and really loves the place, will have no trouble paying the rent, and vows to treat the property “just like it was my own” — he might really mean it.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]