Duplex at 826 28str. N.W. in Calgary, Alta. were a man identified himself as a Freeman-on-the-Land and claimed the rental property as an embassy.
Credits: Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency
CALGARY - His side of the story is worth its weight in gold - or so Andreas Pirelli claims.
That's what the star of Calgary's strangest landlord-tenant dispute is demanding to explain his role in a bizarre eviction case -- one that started with Pirelli declaring his rental suite an embassy, and may be ending with Tuesday's court ruling ordering Pirelli out by midnight Friday.
"This is the biggest thing in history, if you want to sit down and have an exclusive, show up with the money," said a man answering Pirelli's phone.
"Talk to your boss, it's five million in gold, and we will give you exclusive world wide."
Unfortunately, QMI Agency's petty cash fund falls slightly short, that's if QMI actually paid for news. To be clear, we don't.
That explanation didn't convince the man to clarify his side of the rental squabble -- and he refused to even confirm he was Pirelli, the Montreal handyman at the heart of the matter.
After mumbling something about "provost marshals" coming to Calgary "because this is big," he hung up.
It was a confounding conversation -- but anyone who's been forced to deal with Freemen-on-the-Land will tell you that's par for the course.
A growing movement, with as many as 30,000 followers in Canada, Freemen refuse to heed rules on the basis that statute laws are voluntary, and anyone declaring themselves a sovereign citizen can avoid things like taxes, drivers licences or insurance.
In Pirelli's case, it was rent -- and after telling his landlord he was a Freeman-on-the-Land who had declared her Calgary duplex an embassy, Pirelli reportedly refused to pay more than half of his $1,500 monthly bill.
On top of that, he allegedly demanded the pensioner who owned the Calgary house pay his company $26,000 for work he'd done to the place, which included gutting the kitchen and bathroom, painting the bedroom black, and changing the locks.
Finally, the independent nation named Pirelli reportedly placed a $17,000 lien on his landlord's property, based on that unpaid bill.
"I'm out about $10,000 -- that doesn't include repairing the house, and I don't know what he's done in there," said Rebekah Caverhill.
She's the Sylvan Lake, Alta., woman who was relying on her Calgary property for retirement income, renting it out to Pirelli in 2011.
It looked ideal for both landlord and the self-proclaimed handyman, who runs a home improvement company.
He agreed to do renovations in exchange for three-month's free rent -- but then things turned sour.
Caverhill learned all about Freemen then, and their tactic of filing frivolous lawsuits and liens against property, both government and private, in a bid to clog a legal system they don't believe in.
"The laws have to be changed to protect landlords -- it's one thing to be cautious in who you rent to, but how do you check someone's headspace?" said Caverhill.
An increasing concern throughout the western world, the Law Society of B.C. and B.C. Notaries have issued warnings about Freemen, whose skewed understanding of statute law leads to their belief legal systems are voluntary, and anyone refusing to take part is free from rules or prosecution.
Pirelli is also said to have gone by the name Mario Antonacci while in Quebec, and Caverhill has identified Antonacci as her tenant, via an online video.
In 2007, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a Mario Antonacci in Quebec, after he failed to appear in court.
According to the report in the Quebec press, Antonacci, who claimed his apartment was an embassy, was accused of assaulting his female landlord.
Caverhill says she had no choice but to go to war with her tenant.
On Tuesday, a court finally heard the case -- and the result was an eviction order for Pirelli, who has until Friday at midnight to clear out, plus an order to pay back $8,970 in rent and utility costs.