US Diplomat Claims Immunity Over Unpaid Rent

Lawyer says Betsy Zouroudis 'enjoys immunity from civil matters' in Canada
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2018 9:22 AM CST
This 2015 photo shows the US Embassy in Ottawa.   (Wikimedia)

(Newser) – A Canadian landlord says he may never again rent to foreign diplomats after a US Embassy worker failed to pay two months of rent, then claimed diplomatic immunity. Rolf Baumann tells CBC News he bomb-proofed the windows in his luxury Ottawa townhouse in early 2016 to meet US security standards so that Betsy Zouroudis, an executive assistant with the Embassy, could move in. But after noise complaints from a downstairs neighbor, Baumann says Zouroudis agreed to move out last April, reports CTV News. When she remained after that date, Baumann says he gave her an extension until the end of August. But he says she left two months early—with his key and without paying thousands of dollars in rent—and though subpoenaed, failed to show up at a court hearing.

Canada's Landlord and Tenant Board decided Zouroudis owed $8,625 for unpaid rent and legal fees. But her lawyer stated "Zouroudis is an an agent of a foreign state and as such enjoys immunity from civil matters throughout Canada." The Ontario Superior Court of Justice will decide next month whether diplomatic immunity applies as Baumann seeks to garnish Zouroudis' wages. "If this falls under the umbrella of immunity—what recourse does anybody have?" he asks. He's not alone in this predicament. Reporting last June on a "general rise in misbehavior" by foreign diplomats in Canada, CBC noted two landlords allegedly failed to collect $48,000 from diplomats. A former Chief of Protocol in Canada previously told the National Post that when it comes to unpaid rent, "we cannot enforce these things." (Read more Canada stories.)

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