A landlord in British Columbia was ordered to return a $650 fee charged to a rental applicant, despite the fact that the landlord called it a damage deposit.
While the Residential Tenancy Act in British Columbia does allow for the collection of a security deposit, it does not allow a landlord to charge an application fee.
In this case, the applicants were asked to pay the $650 fee at the time they completed a rental application. It was the landlord’s policy to require the payment before an application would be processed.
Later, the applicants decided not to rent the property because they didn’t accept the landlord’s lease terms.
When the landlord would not return the payment, the applicants brought a claim before the Residential Tenancy Branch for dispute resolution.
The adjudicator found that under the RTA in British Columbia, a landlord cannot require payment of rent or a security deposit as a condition of making an application, nor can the landlord charge an application fee. The adjudicator explains “This section goes on to state that a landlord must not charge a person anything for accepting an application for a tenancy, processing the application, investigating the applicant’s suitability as a tenant or accepting the person as a tenant,”
He concluded that the landlord charged the illegal application fee to determine the suitability of the tenants, which is prohibited in British Columbia.
Although the applicants did not request it, the adjudicator also ordered the landlord to pay their $50 filing fee.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.