This Landlord Is a Hero

by Chris on May 23, 2011

No, she didn’t pull someone from a burning building, or rescue a kitten stranded up a tree, but this landlord is still a hero– for proving that by doing things right, landlords can win against unscrupulous tenants.

Two roommates brought their landlord before the Residential Tenancy Board on nebulous claims about the condition of the property and the management of repairs. Their complaints included everything from wear on the carpet to whistling pipes and an anemic intercom system.

They were seeking money–an order of compensation for their loss of enjoyment.

By the time the case came to hearing last week, one tenant had moved out, but the other remained. The former tenant submitted a letter which detailed several dates where things weren’t to her liking. She claimed her numerous complaints fell on deaf ears. The argument seemed persuasive.

But then it was the landlord’s turn.

First, the landlord was able to show that she had a policy for repair requests in the building.  She required tenants to make a written request on a form that she provided so she could track each complaint and the outcome. This policy was designed to better serve the tenants. The forms, she told the adjudicator, were available 24/7.

And the forms told the real story. For every repair request that the tenant submitted, the landlord’s records showed both the response time and the outcome.

For instance, the tenant submitted a Repair Request Form indicating that the carpet was deteriorating. The landlord noted on the form that the tenant inspected the carpet at move-in without complaint, and the landlord verified that the carpets had been professionally cleaned just prior to that time.

The tenant complained the heat was not working. The Repair Request Form showed that the maintenance worker attended to the unit promptly.

“The heat works now and then.” The maintenance worker responded promptly and attended the unit.

“Shower goes hot and cold.” The landlord recorded the internal discussion via email regarding this water issue. Other units were experiencing the same issue. The maintenance worker suggested “burping” the lines, which solved the problem.

The current tenant admitted that there were no outstanding maintenance issues.

The former tenant responded that she was never made aware that a Repair Request Form needed to be filled out “for every single problem.”

But the adjudicator didn’t buy it. Instead, he found that “on a balance of probabilities” the tenants had not proven their case that the landlord was neglecting the property.  He noted in his decision dismissing the tenants’ application for a money judgment that for every written complaint, there had been a diligent response.

It’s hard to predict which tenants will become a problem, and when it does happen, it seems that a claim like this comes out of nowhere. That’s why keeping contemporaneous records makes all the difference between losing money, and making a profit.

This landlord did it right, and avoided what could have been an ambush. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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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.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Kwapis May 24, 2011 at 7:26 am

I applaud the landlord for keeping everything documented. Based on this experience, I will be inserting a clause in my lease document, stating that all requests and concerns MUST be in writing.
Thanks for the article

Chris May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am

In the event of emergency repairs where the tenant has to contact you immediately, usually by phone, it’s also a good idea to jot down a note about the call and place that in the tenant’s file.

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