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BC landlady moved in with her tenant to avoid tenancy law

Image Credit: Wikicommons

A BC tenant whose landlady moved in with them as a way to circumvent the Residential Tenancy Act will have another chance at getting compensation.

According to a June 20 BC Supreme Court decision, Maggie Moon rented a converted garage from her landlady Virag Vizi.

However, when Vizi failed to kick Moon out for no legitimate reason, she then moved into the garage so she could say the two lived in a roommate situation that wasn't covered under the Residential Tenancy Act.

The decision said Moon moved into the converted garage in September 2022 but not long afterwards Vizi decided she wanted her tenant out.

The landlady issued an eviction notice but Moon challenged it with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

In a scathing decision by the Branch, the arbitrator described Vizi testimony as "dubious" saying she'd created a "false narrative in an effort to portray a scenario which did not exist."

The arbitrator said that Vizi had a lack of understanding when it came to renting property out.

"I do not find the Landlords to be credible as they failed to provide consistent, logical, compelling or persuasive testimony or documentary evidence," the arbitrator ruled.

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However, while Moon won the right to stay in her rental property the situation escalated from there.

In May 2023, the landlady entered the garage and began using the kitchen and sleeping in the second bedroom occasionally.

This understandably exacerbated the situation.

The decision said conflict arose on whether Moon could install her own internet, there was a disagreement about the removal of curtains in the garage and concerns about where the tenant’s dog could be.

Not long after, Vizi issued another eviction notice which stated: "I also recognize that you may wish to dispute this eviction notice with the Residential Tenancy Branch. However, as you are only renting a room from me and share bathroom/kitchen facilities with me, you are not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act. For that same reason, I do not need to seek an order of possession to evict you."

Shortly afterwards Moon gave her 30 days notice and moved out.

She then filed a complaint to the Residential Tenancy Branch about what had happened.

But after being treated badly by her landlady the Residential Tenancy Branch wasn't any better.

The Branch refused to deal with the dispute stating that as Moon had already moved out the issue was moot.

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It appears that Moon had not used the correct legal terms in her complaint to the Branch so it misinterpreted what she was asking for and refused to deal with it.

She then took the case to the BC Supreme Court asking for a legal review.

BC Supreme Court Justice Justice Wendy A. Baker pointed out Moon was not a lawyer and that self-represented parties do not always articulate their argument in precise ways.

"The requirement for the arbitrator to determine the actual dispute between the parties, not necessarily limited to the language used in the notice of dispute," the Justice said.

Justice Baker was highly critical of the Tenancy Branch's decision to reject the complaint.

"It is impossible for me to discern any rational or tenable line of analysis supporting the arbitrator’s decision," the Justice said.

She then went on to say the Residential Tenancy Branch's decision was "clearly irrational and patently unreasonable," and ordered the Branch to review Moon's complaint again.

Where this will leave the tenant is not yet known, but they will now have another chance at getting compensation from the landlady who tried to evict them.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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