Everyone wants to have an amazing roommate.
In many cases, living with strangers creates wonderful memories and lasting friendships.
But sometimes, sharing a home with another person leads to a different experience.
A dispute between former Vancouver roommates provides an example.
A B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal found that Jake Berlin “became a disruptive roommate in many respects” when he sublet a room from Jihyun Park.
Park rented the upper level of a Vancouver home. She and her spouse occupied one room. She sublet a second room to Marbiluz Reyes Diaz and spouse, and the third to Berlin.
Tribunal member Julie K. Gibson recalled that the agreement between Berlin and Park expected the man to “maintain reasonable levels of cleanliness, noise and access to the shared facilities”.
The terms of the agreement intend to “permit the various occupants to live communally”.
However, Gibson established from the statements of Berlin’s roommates that he “became a disruptive roommate”.
Examples include “being noisy, using the bathroom for over an hour at a time even when others were waiting, using or moving personal items belonging to other residents without permission, walking around common areas in only his underwear, and failing to clean up in the bathroom by flushing the toilet or cleaning his bodily secretions from the sink basin”.
“Based on his own admission in the text messages, I also find that Mr. Berlin did laundry using the shared washer/dryer outside of the set laundry hours,” Gibson wrote in her reasons for decision.
Gibson also cited video footage showing Berlin playing his guitar loudly.
“Based on the videos, I also find that, on at least one occasion, Mr. Berlin sang loud, confrontational words directed at his roommates, including singing they were ‘not citizens’, that he ‘didn’t like it’ and that they should ‘stop assaulting’ him,” Gibson stated.
Citing text messages, the tribunal member related that Berlin “refused to change his behavior”, prompting his other roommates to “ask him to leave”.
“Based on the text messages and witness statements, I find that when Ms. Park asked Mr. Berlin to move out he shouted at some of the roommates, challenged some of them to fight him, and sent confrontational messages both in a group chat and to Ms. Park’s cell phone,” Gibson recalled.
On October 20, 2019, the roommates called the police because of Berlin’s “noisy and agitated behavior”.
Vancouver police removed Berlin from the house.
“The police report records that a constable instructed Mr. Berlin not to return home that night, but to contact one of the other roommates the next day to arrange to pick up his belongings,” Gibson recalled.
Berlin did not return to the property or seek to retrieve his belongings until November 2, 2019.
In a text to Park on that day, the man said: “I have a new place to put them. I want to vacate your space so someone else can occupy it.”
According to Gibson, Berlin “decided to voluntarily leave the roommate arrangement”.
“Mr. Berlin then moved out on November 5, 2019, with police escorts present while he packed up,” Gibson noted.
Berlin later filed a claim with the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal for $5,000 in damages, which Gibson dismissed.
According to Gibson, the man “moved out of the room voluntarily, as indicated by his November 2, 2019 text”.
Berlin’s claim included $780 in rent for October 2019.
According to Gibson, the man used the room during most of that month.
Berlin also claimed $1,500 to replace a destroyed laptop computer.
“Mr. Berlin’s own evidence is that the Vancouver Police constables either threw his laptop down the stairs or otherwise damaged it when they were accompanying him to leave the premises,” Gibson wrote.
Gibson saw no evidence that the roommates damaged the laptop.
“For this reason, and because the Vancouver Police constables are not parties to this dispute, I dismiss Mr. Berlin’s claim for $1,500 to replace his work laptop,” Gibson wrote.