Have you ever had an issue with heating in your apartment building? Has it ever been so bad that you left?
A frustrated former Vancouver renter said their landlord left them in the cold for the entirety of their tenancy and they were forced to move out.
But the landlord argued that the tenant didn't leave because they were uncomfortable — and said they left the place pretty dishevelled and damaged upon their departure, too.
It isn't uncommon for tenancy disputes to involve damaged property and difficult living situations. In fact, these two issues comprise the lion's share of cases in the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). What's uncommon, however, is for tenants to keep a detailed log of issues complete with evidence, such as photos, videos, or tape recordings — and that's unfortunate when they try to make a claim.
According to Section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law.
Tenants also bear a responsibility to uphold the cleanliness of their rental units. When a tenancy ends, their apartment should be in a condition similar to the way they found it, albeit with some "reasonable wear and tear."
Apartments for rent Vancouver: A tenancy dispute about heat
In one Vancouver rental dispute, a former tenant said he had spoken to the property manager several times about a heat issue and it was never resolved. He alleged that some mornings the air in his room was so cold he could "see his breath" and the thermometer in his unit was sometimes as low as 10°C.
The landlord argued that the tenant left the unit dirty and "not left in rental condition." They said the wall had been painted bright orange, pink, and black and the renter did not paint them back to a neutral colour. Due to the high-gloss paint the tenant used, the walls had to be painted with several coats. Additionally, they said there was a "sticky black substance" on the carpets, and "concrete pavers and gravel" in the bathroom. When the building manager tried to remove some of these materials, the floors were "dirty and stained," too.
The building manager added that the tenant had sent them a text message saying he wanted to move as "soon as possible," and stating, "I hate Vancouver and can't wait to move away." Further, he was also purportedly looking into schools in California.
While the tenant said he left his temperature complaints via a drop-box in a common area, rather than through text communication, the building manager never received them. They added that the renter always communicated via text.
In the final ruling, the RTB notes that the burden of proof fell on the tenant since they were the ones claiming there was a lack of heat throughout the tenancy. In this case, they found that they did not meet the "balance of probabilities" to prove there was no heat throughout their stay. Plumbers found the heat was sitting around 22°C upon inspection, too.
The landlord met the burden of proof for the damages and loss of rent, however. They were awarded $2,106.64.