Rent-to-own company owner evicted for not paying rent

The businessman who runs a rent-to-own company facing heavy scrutiny and about $2.5 million in lawsuits has been evicted from his office for failing to pay rent, according to his landlord.

Jean-Claude Lacasse, known to many as J.C. Lacasse, operates Golden Oaks Rent 2 Own Canada.

Some investors and customers of the company claim they have lost money in various deals and they are using the court system to try to get their money back.

Lacasse has been evicted from his office by his landlord, who terminated their lease. A notice on the door Thursday said Lacasse owes more than $20,000 in rent.

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CBC News spoke to the man who helped manage one of Lacasse's two previous bankruptcy claims.

Brian Doyle first met Lacasse more than 20 years ago when a previous venture of Lacasse's went bust.

"Mr. Lacasse is a very convincing individual," Doyle said. "He has a certain charisma to him that is unusual."

The company — Lacasse Enterprises — had about 450 condos in eastern Ontario and west Quebec when Doyle was appointed by the court to manage the company, representing his accounting firm.

Bankruptcy records show the company's liabilities topped $7 million, more than double its assets.

Police and military personnel were among those affected, Doyle said.

Lacasse promised big returns over 10 years, after which time he promised his company would buy back the buildings, Doyle said.

"By and large they all suffered large losses," Doyle said. "I cannot recall what the amount was but it wasn't pretty, put it that way.

"The projections showed that there was money to be made," Doyle said. "However, behind the projections, the assumptions were very risky. Certainly if real estate had escalated in value money was to be made, but you had to assume that real estate was going to go up by an unrealistic amount.

"The problem is, in many of these situations, the whole story is not being told to the purchaser of the investment product," Doyle added. "They don't see the whole picture. They don't see what's behind the drapes. And if they did, and properly examined it, and tried to get their eye off the high rate of interest or high returns being promised, they would realize that they were taking a substantial risk."

Now with Lacasse facing several lawsuits launched by 18 different people, Doyle said he fears most for the rent-to-own tenants.

He said their best hope could be a court-appointed receiver, but it's up to a major creditor or investor to set that in motion.

Lacasse has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

A statement he issued earlier this week said the company is in the midst of restructuring and that it hasn't been determined whether anyone will lose money.

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