Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Residential Tenancy office – Landlord and tenant – Termination – Judicial review – Appeals – Leave to appeal – Compliance with legislation – Hearings – Procedural requirements and fairness
Chong v. Wan,  M.J. No. 97, 2014 MBCA 35, Manitoba Court of Appeal, April 16, 2014, B.M. Hamilton J.A.
The applicant landlord (Mr. Chong) rented rooms to the respondent tenants (Mr. Tsang, Ms. Wan, and Ms. Lai) in 2011 – 2012. The tenants each prepaid $25,000 or $27,500 to the Landlord for the period of September 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012 for rent, meals, tutoring and transportation.
In early 2012, the Tenants moved out of the Landlord’s basement because the Tenants found the conditions to be intolerable. The Tenants each filed a claim with the Residential Tenancies Branch seeking compensation for rent, interests and costs. The Branch issued an order for compensation for each tenant and the Landlord appealed these orders to the Residential Tenancies Commission.
The Commission conducted a hearing that took place over four days between September 11, 2012 and December 6, 2012. The three matters were all heard together by the Commission. Mr. Tsang was present for the hearing. Ms. Lai and Ms. Wan gave evidence by teleconference from Hong Kong. The Landlord did not testify.
The Commission decided the premises were “living accommodations intended for use as rented residential premises”. The Commission rejected the Landlord’s argument that the premises were “shared accommodation”. The Commission found the prepayment arrangement was void pursuant to section 6 of the Residential Tenancies Act. The Commission also found, in the alternative, the Landlord committed serious breaches of his obligations. The Commission found the Tenants had cause to terminate their tenancies because the accommodations were “uninhabitable”. The Commission concluded the Tenants were entitled to compensation for the time period after February 6, 2012 and it ordered compensation on that basis.
The Landlord applied to the Manitoba Court of Appeal seeking leave to appeal each of the Commission’s orders. The Landlord’s main argument was that the Commission breached its duty of procedural fairness because its conduct of the hearing was fundamentally flawed.
The Landlord argued the Commission erred in law by failing to conduct the hearing “de novo” as it was required to do. The Landlord also made the inter-related argument that the Commission erred by reviewing and adopting the Branch’s findings of fact and conclusion. The Court of Appeal held the Commission was entitled to review and adopt the Branch’s findings of fact. The Court of Appeal held the Commission did give the parties a full opportunity to be heard.
The Landlord argued the Commission erred in law by failing to consider his request for a stay of its interlocutory decision. The Landlord applied to the Commission seeking a dismissal the claims of Ms. Lai and Ms. Wan because they did not personally attend the hearing. The Commission refused this application and the Landlord sought an adjournment of the hearing so he could seek judicial review of that decision.
The Landlord also argued the Commission erred in law by misapprehending the evidence.
The Court of Appeal held that none of the Landlord’s arguments raised an arguable question of law. The Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal. The Court of Appeal ordered one set of costs to be paid by the Landlord.
This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at email@example.com or review his biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.
To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.