Landlord Tenancy Act is there to help

Resident provides some information on the landlord-tenant relationship

Regarding a previous letter to the editor titled, Be Aware, in the Nov. 18 Morning Star, D Keyes wrote about the negative experience with a rental unit in a seniors building that allowed pets.

Upon moving out, the management company levied a cleaning cost against Keyes for cleaning the aluminum blinds to the total of about $300, plus an additional charge of $90 for carpet cleaning.

In the end, Keyes stated that they lost the security deposit to those cleaning charges.

I am supposing, by how the letter was written, the cleaning charges levied by the management company were not written into the rental agreement when it was signed, assuming there was a written rental agreement and these cleaning charges sounded as standard costs levied against any tenant, whether or not the suite was cleaned upon moving out.

I write in response to advise the letter writer and anyone who rents, that there is a Landlord Tenancy Act of B.C. that provides protection against unfair and unjust costs, either suffered by the tenant or by the landlord.

Essentially, depending on circumstances and proof, the management company has no authority under the Landlord Tenancy Act to levy any cleaning costs against a security deposit without justification (proof), that cleaning was reasonably needed.

If the tenant had maintained the suite in good order, cleaned before leaving, nothing damaged or missing, including the blinds, then the management company cannot charge Keyes for any cleaning costs and must return the security deposit with interest.

In addition, the requirement to clean the blinds must be reasonable and proven they required cleaning.

Both the management company and the tenant must also conduct a final inspection of the suite, together. This is to both their benefits. It is also possible that the tenant can be awarded costs of filing if the decision is in their favour.

Keyes has the right to file a dispute with the Landlord Tenancy Branch to arbitrate this matter and it is best that Keyes provide proof that the unit and its blinds were reasonably cleaned or clean.

In turn the management company has to prove the unit required cleaning. Standardizing cleaning costs as policy is not an acceptable practice.

You can actually research this matter yourself at the Landlord Tenancy Branch website — www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/search.html

I did a preliminary search to find three related cases decided by the tenancy branch,

I would suggest to read these and search other decisions for the circumstances that fit your situation and look for decisions that explain, in general, what the landlord can do and cannot do under circumstances of cleaning costs.

You do not have to attend the Greater Vancouver area to get arbitration on this matter. They do conduct telephone conference hearings, so this can be done from your own home.

Unfortunately, some landlords and management companies do play the intimidation game where they impose unfair decisions or actions upon you in the hopes you will take no action.

Mark Warbinek

Vernon