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B.C. women lose $4K claim over alleged flea infestation and unpaid rent

B.C. women have case rejected after pet parasites propel property dispute.
The failed bid to claim damaged involved a rent dispute and an alleged dog-to-cat flea transfer.

Two B.C. women who sought damages after a prospective tenant allegedly broke a rental contract and transferred fleas to their cats have had their case thrown out by the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal. 

Irma and Mishal Khan sought $4,000 after Alexis Genara Ortiz allegedly brought her mother’s dog into the Khans’ home, infesting it with fleas. The couple said Ortiz also owed them two months' rent, plus unpaid bills, because they failed to move into their apartment as agreed. 

Ortiz submitted to the tribunal that they paid one month rent with the intention of moving in, but ultimately never did because the Khans had not moved out. They said they owed nothing to the couple. 

The dispute dates back to early 2021, when Irma Khan and Ortiz became friends. They fell out of touch for some time, but reconnected. By September 2022, both sides agreed that Ortiz would move into the Khans’ apartment after Irma moved out.

On Sept. 12, Irma Khan told Ortiz her cats had fleas. 

“Irma says when she told Alexis about the fleas, Alexis apologized, broke down in tears, took responsibility for introducing the fleas into the Khans’ apartment, and promised to ‘get this fixed immediately,’” wrote tribunal member Megan Stewart in her decision.

Ortiz told the tribunal they were upset because they “knew what it was like to live in a flea-infested home.”

In weighing the evidence, Stewart described some of the evidence in the case as “he said, she said” scenarios. She said the Khans must prove their claims “on a balance of probabilities.” 

Stewart wrote while Ortiz gave money to the Khans’ for the flea infestation, there was no documentary evidence they ever took responsibility for the flea infestation. 

“Based on the evidence before me, I find it is possible Alexis introduced fleas into the Khans’ apartment. However, I find it is equally possible the cats picked up fleas from elsewhere, such as from another animal in the building or from a person visiting with a pet,” wrote Stewart.

“In these circumstances, I find it unproven that the breach caused the Khans to lose any rent at all.”