Landlords express remorse over denial of tenancy to B.C. man with disabilities

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      They’re sorry, and they say it will not happen again.

      Seumas and Kathryn Lobban have expressed remorse over their refusal to rent their home to a man with disabilities.

      The Lobbans wrote a letter of regret as part of their offer to settle a human rights complaint filed against them.

      The complaint was made by Jean Lewis on behalf of her son, Aaron.

      The Lobbans live elsewhere and they rent out their B.C. home.

      Because of the Aaron Lewis’ disabilities, his mother Jean has a power of attorney over his affairs.

      The woman applied to rent the Lobbans’ home for her son, but the landlords thought the arrangement was complicated.

      The man’s mother was to live in her own home, and her son and his caregiver and the caregiver’s spouse will be the occupants of the landlords’ property.

      The homeowners refused to rent out the property.

      The mother filed a complaint on behalf of her son with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that her son was discriminated against in tenancy because of disability.

      In July 2019, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau denied an application by the Lobbans, who were living abroad, to dismiss the complaint without a hearing.

      The hearing was set for a four-day hearing in July 2020.

      The Lobbans subsequently made an offer to settle the complaint.

      As Cousineau related in a new ruling, the offer includes a letter of regret, an acknowledgment of their obligations under the B.C. Human Rights Code, and a donation to a charity of Aaron Lewis’ choice.

      The Lobbans addressed their letter to the man’s mother.

      “We want to take this opportunity to convey to you that we sincerely regret the experience that you and Aaron had as you applied to rent our home,” the landlords wrote.

      They noted that they have had “some difficulties” when renting their home in the past.

      “We want to let you know that we have taken your complaint and this incident very seriously, that we have reflected on it over time, and that we again express our sincere regret to you respecting the negative impact this matter had on you and Aaron,” the Lobbans stated.

      They assured the woman that this will “not occur again”.

      As part of their commitment, the Lobbans completed a LandlordBC certified program called 'I Rent it Right'.

      Cousineau has determined that the settlement offer is reasonable.

      “The Respondents’ offer to settle the complaint meaningfully resolves the dispute between these parties and encompasses elements to ensure that the same thing does not happen again,” Cousineau wrote in her reasons for decision issued June 2, 2020.

      According to the tribunal member, Aaron Lewis could do “no better after a hearing”.

      “In all of the circumstances, it does not further the purposes of the Code to invest the considerable resources it would take to hear this matter over four days and issue a final decision,” Cousineau stated.

      Because of this, Cousineau dismissed the complaint.

      “I remind Mr. Lewis that the Respondents’ offer remains open for acceptance,” Cousineau advised.