A Vancouver woman says her former landlord left her basement suite in "disgusting" condition after it was flooded with feces and she refused to pay for repairs.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer Kyla Lee rented a one-bedroom basement suite in a house located near 14th Avenue and MacDonald Street in 2010. For about nine months of her tenancy, she didn't have any issues with her landlord.
But all of that changed after the landlord failed to do emergency repairs on the unit, resulting in it being flooded with feces.
"There was about an inch of sewage with, like, feces and toilet paper and urine on the floor when I came home," she tells V.I.A.
Lee was skeptical that it could all get fixed immediately and asked if she should get a hotel. However, the landlord assured her that it would be fixed that day within a couple of hours.
"When we came back in it was still, like caked on everything," she describes. "The plumber was still there and I said, 'Do you know what she did to clean this up?' He said, 'She basically just mopped the floor and poured some stuff on it.'"
Feces were still on the shower and bathroom walls and on the tracks of the shower door when she returned, Lee added, noting that the landlord refused to do any further repairs or cleaning of the unit.
After moving her stuff into her ex-boyfriend's house, Lee gave her notice partway through the month. The landlord refused to give her the security deposit back, which was a full month's rent.
Vancouver renter files with the Residential Tenancy Branch
Lee, who was in law school at the time, was aware of her rights as a tenant and filed a claim with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). When the landlord never responded, she served her with legal documents.
When she was serving her, Lee says the landlord chased her down the street, yelling: "I'm never going to pay! No one has ever taken it this far!"
The landlord was ordered to pay double the security deposit, about two months of rent, as well as damages for the work that Lee and her mother did repairing and cleaning the unit.
After failing to attend the payment hearing in Small Claims Court or respond to several requests, a warrant was issued for the landlord's arrest and she was taken into custody.
"I got an order to garnish her bank account," Lee noted.
Tenants who face issues with their landlords should document everything that was happening. Lee took photos and kept a log of the incidents, with receipts.
"When I went to the Residential Tenancy Branch I think I submitted a 25-page package of evidence to them showing how bad it was."
Find out some tips on how to vet out a prospective landlord before you sign a lease with our Vancouver rent guide.