Don't ever do business with VDL Property Management.

Note: I'm posting this complaint to every review site I can find, but since my own site runs on Drupal and does good SEO, I thought I'd post it here as well. If you're a prospective tenant or property owner who has had a negative experience with VDL Property Management (www.letsrent.ca), I encourage you to comment about it here.

We had the considerable misfortune to rent a home through VDL Property Management (www.letsrent.ca) upon first coming to Canada on working visas.

When Stella Van der Lugt showed the home to me, she withheld information about a serious mouse infestation and outright lied about the basement, porch and attic full of personal items the owner was storing in the home long-term. When my husband and I arrived from the States to take possession of the home a month later, she insinuated that we might be inclined to steal the owner's items and told my husband (while I was away at the bank) that I had approved their storage there. As we signed the lease and asked her whether or not we might move to a month-to-month contract at the end of our term (because we would be looking to buy a house), she told us this wasn't possible (and it is, under Nova Scotia tenant law).

From there, her behavior slid from bad to worse. She disregarded our e-mails about the mouse infestation. The owner of the home lost a year's worth of post-dated rent checks, and Stella's response was to demand that we direct deposit rent money to her own private bank account. Stella herself lost a rent check thereafter and called to accuse us of failing to pay the rent altogether (our payment was never late). Later, after a storm surge that destroyed the washer and dryer in the basement, it took her over two weeks to replace the units, which was nothing to the month we spent without a kitchen cook stove while she dawdled over that repair. And these are only the most egregious of a host of complaints, which include the violation of our privacy on two separate occasions with regard to our household utility accounts.

So when we tendered our notice to vacate the premises last winter, we detailed our concerns to her again and argued that because we had requested a month-to-month lease, we were not obligated to fulfill a third twelve-month contract (we had lived there two and a half years). Her response was voluble e-mail histrionics for two days. When that failed to subdue us, her husband Brian called and screamed threats at me on the phone, then bizarrely followed his threats by verbally cancelling our lease and telling us to leave. We accepted his terms, but when we emailed Stella to confirm them, she told us that he had not said any of these things. So we were forced to hire an attorney, who had the patience of a saint and was worth every penny we paid her. Among other things, our counsel fielded Stella's threats to come and 'inspect' the home every day, reminded Stella of her obligation to provide a twenty-four hour notice before visiting the home when Stella abruptly arrived on moving day and badgered my work crew while I was away and informed Stella that indeed we had not stolen anything from the home after Stella insisted she couldn't find a framed picture the owner had left there several years ago.

Worse, Stella took a host of grainy close-up photos of rust and other normal wear and tear, accused us of leaving the house filthy (it wasn't, I scrubbed it before I departed and took photos) and demanded that we replace a perfectly good shower surround and kitchen cook stove. I finally offered to pay for a cleaning crew to revisit the work I had done, but she refused this and demanded money instead. So we paid her $200 to shut up and go away, which is what I would have paid a cleaning crew anyway, and we haven't heard from her since.

Both Stella Van der Lugt and her husband Brian have a local reputation for being confidence people and thugs, and that reputation was certainly confirmed in our dealings with them. We were fortunate to be well-off enough financially to afford legal counsel and what essentially amounted to a $200 extortion payment (which I'm fairly certain Stella pocketed), but many people aren't. So for the sake of your peace of mind, don't ever do business with VDL Property Management, and give both Stella and Brian a wide berth. Whether you're a property owner or renter, this company and these people are not to be trusted.