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Vancouver renter says he didn't have hot water for a whopping 14 years

Tenants who accuse landlords of not providing hot water are tasked with proving they're left in the cold.
man-shower-washing-hair
The Residential Tenancy Branch states that the burden of proof falls on the party who is filing for monetary compensation in Vancouver, BC disputes.

While starting the day off with a cold shower might wake you up, it's not always the preferred choice — particularly in the dead of winter. 

But what if you didn't have the option to get a warm respite for over a decade?

A Vancouver man claimed he didn't have hot water in his rental unit in a whopping 14 years, despite bringing the issue to his landlord's attention. 

According to Section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law. 

Naturally, landlords are responsible for keeping the hot water flowing and the heat on. But tenants who accuse them of failing to do so must have proof if they want to make a claim. 

The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) states that the burden of proof falls on the party who is filing for monetary compensation. This proof may consist of photographic evidence, video, a detailed log, or a witness — but the RTB must believe it sufficiently meets the "balance of probabilities" to prove the case. 

Renting in Vancouver: Tenancy in hot water

In this dispute, the apartment was located on the third floor of an eight-floor building. The tenant submitted evidence that the City of Vancouver attended the property and found that one of the units on the same floor did not have hot water.

The tenant's agent said the reporting engineer verbally told the landlord that his unit did not have water after investigating the other unit; he didn't have evidence to support this claim, however.  

Other documents from the city instructed the landlord to "correct other deficiencies" in the unit, which the renter's agent argued, "showed a pattern of neglect on the landlord's part." 

The tenant was asking for monetary compensation as well as a rent reduction due to the ongoing issue. 

In response to the allegations, the landlord said they had someone inspect the unit and there was hot water. 

The tenant allegedly tested the water frequently and kept a written record as well as videotapes of the procedure. However, he didn't submit this evidence.

The RTB underscored that the tenant's own "documentary evidence" doesn't prove there was no hot water in the unit.

The ruling, in favour of the landlord, also notes: "I am not prepared to assume that because one other unit was found to have issues with the hot water the same is true of the rental unit."

Finally, the RTB points out that the tenant's detailed temperature log would have been "helpful evidence" but was not submitted.