A West Vancouver tenant who withheld part of his rent because he thought the wine cooler his landlord had installed was inadequate has been told to put a cork in it by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
The legal dispute – which focused on whether the wine cooler installed in a West Vancouver townhouse was up to snuff – went through several Residential Tenancy Board hearings and attempts to appeal to the courts over a three-year period.
The tenant’s case was eventually dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal Sept. 8.
According to a written decision that decanted the case, under a tenancy agreement signed April 1, 2020, Azmairnin Jadavji was to rent a West Vancouver townhome from landlord Jingjng Yin under at a monthly rent of $5,700 for a three-year period.
Immediately after moving in, however, Jadavji complained about several perceived deficiencies, including a broken wine cooler and dirty blinds, and in July asked the Residential Tenancy Board to reduce his rent and order repairs.
By October, an arbitrator for the tenancy board had ordered the landlord to fix the problems, including providing “a functional wine cooler," noting “the issue of the wine cooler appears to have been of particular concern to the tenant.”
But by early 2021, the tenant was back before the board, arguing the wine cooler was still inadequate, and his blinds still needed cleaning.
The issue apparently had legs, and the tenant and landlord had further arguments before the board, with an arbitrator ordering the landlord to install a fancier wine cooler after the tenant complained “the new wine cooler was not of comparable quality” to the one that had broken.
When the tenant continued to withhold a portion of his rent for the perceived ‘deficiencies’ following the installation of a new unit, his landlord issued him an eviction order for unpaid rent.
Another arbitrator who weighed in on the case agreed with the landlord that enough was enough, awarding Yin $5,400 in unpaid rent.
The arbitrator also agreed with the landlord that the reason some of the tenant’s blinds had not been cleaned was “the tenant refused to move his furniture out of the way.”
The tenant attempted to dispute the decision twice more, at first arguing he had been “denied the opportunity to participate fully” in the online hearing because he’d joined late due to an invalid access code. He later tried asking for a judicial review of the case, under other technical grounds, which was rejected by B.C. Supreme Court.
Most recently, the Court of Appeal upheld that decision, with a panel of three appeal court justices pouring out the dregs of those arguments, writing, “The tenant has failed to establish that the decision of the arbitrator was patently unreasonable or procedurally unfair.”