09 March 2009

Cats Win Eviction Fight

As 2008 neared its end, Hollyburn Properties, proud new owners of a west-end Vancouver apartment building, handed out eviction notices to seven long-time residents.

Why? The tenants who were served the notices (that is, the humans) shared their apartments with cats.

Such households were not news to the new owners who had done several inspections since they'd purchased the property about a year previously. Not only had the tenants always had cats, but they'd been given oral permission when they moved into the building to bring their animal companions with them, such permission having been granted by the resident manager who worked under the previous owners.

Despite this, Hollyburn insisted on written permission which, of course, the tenants could not produce and Hollyburn wasn't about to issue.

The tenants balked. They refused to give up their furry companions and they refused to leave the premises.

Since the BC Residential Tenancy Act is designed more to protect property owners than tenants, it's rare to see the residential tenancy branch coming down in favour of tenants when interceding in disputes.

Yet that's what they did.

Dispute resolution officer S. Okada wrote in a March 4 judgement that the tenants had not breached a material part of their tenancy agreement, even though they had oral rather than written permission to keep pets. Ergo, "the notices to end tenancy are cancelled, with the effect that the tenancies continue."

Wow. A win for the good side. It gives me hope that if one day someone comes along and buys THIS apartment building, they can't arbitrarily go around evicting tenants like me who also got oral permission to bring along their furry companions.

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