Tenants awarded $10,250 in eviction dispute with North Vancouver landlords

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      Stacy Letitia Finer and Cory Jonathan Finer were evicted in 2014.

      They wanted their deposit back. Their North Vancouver landlords, Tanya Mary Reitzel and Troy Martin Kraft, refused.

      The owners claimed that the house was damaged. They wanted to keep the deposit.

      Moreover, the two renters found out that contrary to what they were told, Reitzel and Kraft did not occupy the property after they left.

      Instead, the owners immediately listed the property for sale. The house was bought not long after.

      The tenants and landlords filed their respective applications with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).

      After a hearing, an arbitrator ruled in favour of the renters on March 13, 2015.

      In a decision, arbitrator L. Bell ordered the landlords to return the Finers’ security deposit of $1,450.

      Bell also determined that the Finers were entitled to one month’s rent of $2,900. That’s what the law provides when tenancy is ended for the supposed reason that the property will be occupied by the landlords.

      In addition, Bell awarded the equivalent of two months’ rent or $5,800 to the Finers. That’s because the law says that if the rental unit is not used for the stated purpose for at least six months, the landlord must pay the equivalent of double the monthly rent.

      The Finers moved out on July 31, 2014. The house was listed at the beginning of the next month. The property was sold on or before September 5, 2014.

      Bell also awarded the Finers the amount of $100 for the recovery of their filing fee.

      All told, the monetary award was $10,250.

      Bell dismissed the landlords’ application.

      In a review, another arbitrator, D. Vaughn, confirmed Bell’s decision.

      On March 22, 2019, landlords Reitzel and Kraft filed a petition before the B.C. Supreme Court.

      Reitzel and Kraft wanted the court to set aside the 2015 decision of arbitrator Bell, and return the dispute to the RTB for resolution.

      Unfortunately for the two, judge John J. Steeves didn’t grant their wish.

      In reasons for judgment dated June 25, 2019, Steeves noted that the standard for review of the RTB decision is “patent unreasonableness”.

      However, Steeves ruled that Bell’s decision was “not patently unreasonable”.

      The judge recalled that Bell dismissed the landlords’ application before the RTB because it did not include full particulars.

      The landlords later submitted a worksheet containing details of the repairs needed after the tenants left. However, Steeves noted that it appears that the document was not considered by the arbitrator because it was submitted “late”.

      “That was one of the reasonable decisions available to her and the decision cannot be considered patently unreasonable,” Steeves stated.

      The landlords also argued that the tenants were not entitled to their security deposit because the renters did not cooperate for a joint inspection of the property at the end of the tenancy.

      The owners indicated that they offered two dates. Because the renters were not responsive, they did not offer a second opportunity as this would be “futile”.

      According to Steeves, the law requires landlords to provide a second opportunity to schedule an inspection.

      Steeves wrote that “whether offering a second opportunity would have been futile or not cannot be known because it was not attempted”.

      “The landlords in this case failed to comply…,” the judge pointed out.