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War between Burnaby tenants leaves landlord asked to evict over ‘stinky’ cooking complaints

Should tenants be allowed to complain about food smells from someone else's suite?
stink smell gross clothespin stock
One group of Burnaby tenants wanted the others evicted for complaining about stinky food. Getty Images

A Burnaby landlord found himself caught in the middle of a war between tenants scrapping over noise and “stinky” cooking.

The war ended up at B.C.s Residential Tenancy Branch, where it was asked if one set of tenants should be evicted over the complaints by the other tenants.

The tenants lived in the same house, with two upstairs and two downstairs. The downstairs tenants were pressuring the landlord to evict the upstairs tenants due to a litany of complaints. But the upstairs had complaints as well.

“The tenants (downstairs) claimed in the application for dispute resolution that there have been several ongoing breaches of their right to quiet enjoyment and several instances of harassment by the occupants of the upper unit of the rental property,” reads the ruling (RTB documents don’t give addresses or names due to privacy concerns). “The tenants have made written complaints to the landlords, but the landlords have refused to take steps to address the disturbances and harassment.

“The tenants referred to frequent complaints by the upstairs occupants to the tenants about food or cooking smells said to be emanating from the rental unit into the upstairs unit; complaints by the upstairs occupants because the tenants have guests to visit and unreasonable complaints when the tenants play music quietly at reasonable hours.”

The hearing heard about complaints to the landlord about one tenant swearing at the others about guests being there at 8 p.m.

“The tenants said that they have been so intimidated that they have cancelled guest visits,” the ruling says.

But the smell of cooking was an even bigger issue in the house as it is carried upstairs by a forced air furnace.

“The tenants have attempted to ameliorate the problem by ensuring that the furnace is turned off before they begin food preparation,” the ruling said. “The tenants said they use the stove hood fan when they are cooking but it is very noisy.”

The landlord told the RTB hearing that he has been trying to mediate the situation and get the tenants to communicate with each other. He has also had work done on the forced air furnace system to reduce the noise.

In the final ruling the RTB said the tenants hadn’t made their case about how the landlord hadn’t complied by the tenancy agreement. The ruling also said the tenants hadn’t proven that the upstairs tenants should be evicted.

“I do not find, on the evidence presented that the conduct of the upstairs occupants and their issues with noise and odours would constitute sufficient grounds to justify the landlord in issuing an (eviction notice).”

And so the complaint was dismissed.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.