Judge blasts B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch ruling - InfoNews

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Judge blasts B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch ruling

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October 16, 2019 - 7:00 AM

A Supreme Court judge has blasted a B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch decision, calling its findings inadequate and unreasonable, after the branch dismissed a complaint about a conflict between a person living in a motorhome and the owner of the land, saying the living arrangement didn't fall within its jurisdiction.

In the B.C. Supreme Court decision, Oct. 10, Justice Ward Branch describes the arbitrator's November 2018 decision as "patently unreasonable" and inadequate showing a "failure to consider relevant evidence."

Justice Branch ruled the case between Theresa Anne Wiebe and Kirstin Chase Olsen could go back in front of the tenancy branch after a ruling in November 2018 dismissed their case saying the circumstances didn't fall within its boundaries.

The case centres on a dispute about the length of time a person living in a motorhome on someone else's property should be given by the landowner to vacate and given the number of similar arrangements popping up in the region, it should have provided some clarification on the landlord-tenant relationship in such cases. 

According to the court decision, Wiebe moved a motorhome onto Olsen's property near Slocan Park in the Kootenays during the summer of 2014. With a verbal agreement, the pair agreed to a monthly payment of $100 and the motorhome became Wiebe's primary residence. Over the years payments increased gradually to $200 by 2018 and Wiebe did substantial work to the motorhome.

A fence, deck and roof were built around the motorhome, which had its wheels removed and driver and passenger doors sealed with spray foam insulation. Power came via an extension cord and water via a hose, although both these were upgraded over the years.

In September 2018, Olsen gave Wiebe two months notice to leave, citing the "End Tenancy for Landlord’s Use of Property" section from the Residential Tenancy Act.

Wiebe disputed this and took the issue to the tenancy branch saying the motorhome should be classified under the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act, which would allow 12 months to vacate the property.

During the hearing in October 2018, Olsen argued Wiebe was a tenant and that her property was not classified as a manufactured home park. She also offered $1,200 for relocation assistance.

The Arbitrator said the motorhome was not a rental unit, so therefore, it did not fall under the Residential Tenancy Act.

However, the Arbitrator said the property was also not in a manufactured home park, so neither did it fall under the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act. The Arbitrator then concluded the board had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Wiebe found a pro bono lawyer and appealed the decision in the B.C. Supreme Court March 2019, asking that the case should be able to be heard by the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Justice Branch ruled Wiebe was denied a fair hearing and ordered the case to be heard again with a new tenancy branch arbitrator.


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