Residential Tenancy Branch decision failed to adequately articulate the reasons for its decision and the matter was remitted back to the Residential Tenancy Branch

19. October 2021 0

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Residential Tenancy office – Residential tenancy agreements – Vacancy notices – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Evidence – Standard of review – Reasonableness

Shahcheraghi v. Divangahi, [2021] B.C.J. No. 1760, 2021 BCSC 1576, British Columbia Supreme Court, August 13, 2021, K. Horsman J.

The landlord/petitioner sought a judicial review of an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) which found that the tenant owed unpaid rent of $13,474, but not the amount sought by the landlord, and dismissed the landlord’s application seeking compensation for damage to the unit. The RTB ordered the landlord to reimburse the tenant double the amount of security deposit for the landlord’s failure to return the deposit in a timely manner.

The tenancy began on December 1, 2018 with a monthly rent of $6,000 and $3,000 security deposit. On July 23, 2019, the landlord issued a notice to end tenancy for unpaid rents or utilities. On July 26, 2019, the tenant filed a notice of dispute and remained in the premises. Following the dispute, the tenant provided the landlord with cheques that could not be cashed. The tenant vacated the property on January 6, 2020 and, according to the landlord, required cleaning and repair costs. The tenant provided the landlord a cheque for the remaining rent and damages that could not be cashed.

The RTB arbitrator concluded that the landlord was entitled to a monetary remedy of $7,570.04 for unpaid rent and the landlord’s filing fee, consisting of $13,574.04 less $6,000 in double security deposit that the tenant was entitled to.

The Court affirmed that the standard of review was patent unreasonableness while being mindful that the reviewing court is to take a reasons first approach. The Court concluded that the RTB “findings of fact on the critical issues do not allow the parties and the reviewing court to understand how and why the decision was reached, or why seemingly relevant evidence of the Landlord was ignored or rejected.”

The petition was allowed and the RTB order was set aside. The matter was sent back to the RTB for reconsideration. The Court declined to order costs against the tenant but permitted the landlord to make submissions on costs.

This case was digested by Jackson C. Doyle, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter.  If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Jackson C. Doyle at [email protected].

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