If you are a tenant planning to claim money for damages or compensation, you need to ensure you have the evidence to back up your story.
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. In other words, they need to try to prevent infestations from happening and deal with them swiftly if they do.
But tenants aren't off the hook for keeping their pads pest free.
The RTA stipulates that renters must also maintain "reasonable health, cleanliness, and sanitary standards" in their units.
B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) will typically side with the party who has the most evidence to support their claim.
In a recent dispute, a tenant was claiming over $4,000 for monetary losses due to emergency repairs and other issues while she lived there with her family, including the alleged, accidental poisoning of her dog.
The renter said she was claiming $4,036 for the following issues:
- staying in a hotel while the unit was painted
- moving to a new place because the unit was in constant need of repairs
- costs for food that spoiled when the fridge stopped working
- lost property following a silverfish infestation
- replacement of a mattress and linens due to a "urine-saturated carpet" in the bedroom
- her dog ingested rat poison that she didn't know was there and needed an "emergency vet visit"
- increased BC Hydro usage while the furnace was not working for several months
Landlord weighs in on Metro Vancouver renter's claims
In response to the hotel claim, the landlord said the tenant advised that she needed to stay in a five-star hotel in Downtown Vancouver. And when the tenant said that she wanted compensation for deciding to leave, the landlord stated that that isn't how a tenancy works. Since the renter left of her own volition, there wasn't any reason the landlord felt they should have to pay compensation.
In regard to the spoiled food, the landlord said the fridge only had a "small nick on the top" and that the woman's son, who is an electrition, fixed it.
"The operating temperature of the fridge was within normal range and wouldn’t cause food to spoil or freeze," they said.
The landlord stated that there was "no evidence" of a silverfish infestation and that there was also no evidence to support that there was dog urine on the floor that ruined her mattress. Instead, they said that the tenant knew the floors were freshly shampooed the day before she moved in, which might explain why her mattress got wet.
And while the landlord admitted there was a rat issue, they said poison was never used to treat it; the extermination company used traps instead.
Finally, the landlord argued that the tenant's bills did not show extra hydro was used during the time the furnace stopped working.
Since the tenant filed the claim, they had to prove to the RTB that their version of the story was trued based on the balance of probabilities.
But the branch filed in favour of the landlord, noting that the renter supplied insufficient evidence to support their claims. Not only did it find claims for a five-star hotel to be unreasonable, but it also noted that there were no photographs or videos to show any proof of the infestations or damage.
The branch said the tenant's testimony did "bear some weight" but she did not supply the vet bill for her pet's alleged poisoning.