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North Van landlord must pay former tenant $46K for eviction, B.C. Supreme Court rules

The landlord said he planned to move his daughter into the North Vancouver home, but no one had moved in almost a year later
Themis, goddess of justice at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. | Mike Wakefield / North Shore News

A North Vancouver landlord must pay his former tenant more than $46,000 for failing to follow through on his stated reasons for their eviction, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled.

According to a ruling released June 6, William Taylor had been renting the Leovista Avenue home since November 2019. When Ali Shigani purchased the property in July 2022, he initially told Taylor his plan was to demolish the house and rebuild. But when Shigani’s agent delivered the eviction notice in August, Shigani had changed his mind and stated that his daughter, who was struggling with medical issues, would be moving into the house after some cosmetic renovations. A follow-up email specified that Shigani would be moving in as well, the ruling states.

Taylor moved out in November and received one month’s rent as compensation. But, after moving out, the ruling notes Taylor “noticed that neither the landlord nor his daughter had moved into the property and that there were more extensive renovations ongoing.”

Under the Residential Tenancy Act, a tenant may be evicted “if the landlord or a close family member of the landlord intends in good faith to occupy the rental unit,” but if they fail to follow through, a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator may order the landlord to pay the tenant the equivalent of 12 months’ rent.

In Taylor’s case, that amounted to $46,384.

“Ending a tenancy is a very serious matter, and in the case of a landlord ending a tenancy for the landlord’s use of the property, the landlord cannot be indecisive. The notice states that the rental unit will be occupied by the landlord’s child,” the arbitrator wrote, siding with Taylor. “I find that the landlord did not act in good faith and had no intention of moving his child or children into the rental unit, but renovated for another purpose.”

B.C. Supreme Court weighs in

But Shigani took the RTB order to the B.C. Supreme Court for judicial review, alleging the decision was patently unreasonable.

Shigani argued that if Taylor did not accept the justification given in the notice to end the tenancy, he had an obligation to dispute it at that time, making the issue of good faith irrelevant for any subsequent disputes. In response, Taylor argued that “good faith intentions of a landlord often do not become obvious until later when the landlord has not satisfied his stated intention for occupying the property.”

Shigani also said the arbitrator did not fully take into account his extenuating circumstances, which the legislation does require them to consider.

At the time he delivered the two-months’ notice, Shigani’s stated reason was that he was planning to move his daughter into the home for her stability and wellness. After the eviction notice was delivered, though, her condition had worsened and the family did not follow through.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sukstorf did find an error in the arbitrator’s reasoning, specifically that she conflated the law’s requirement for the eviction itself to be in good faith, and the requirement for the landlord to follow through on the stated reasons for the eviction.

But the arbitrator ultimately arrived at a reasonable decision, given the evidence before her, Sukstorf found.

“There does not appear to be any evidence on the record to explain why the landlord could not move into the property as he intended to care for his daughter’s worsened medical conditions,” she wrote. “Although the arbitrator did accept that [the landlord’s daughter’s] medical conditions did worsen, she was not persuaded that they amounted to extenuating circumstances to excuse the landlord from meeting the statutory requirements set out [in the Act]. In fact, the evidence of the landlord that was before the arbitrator was somewhat contradictory.”

Sukstorf acknowledged that the there is no sliding scale for the size of the penalty based on the individual circumstances and that of compensation of 12 months’ rent “may appear unfair and unjust for the party not receiving a favourable order.”

“Although I have empathy for the position that the landlord found himself in, the legislation … is relatively rigid and intended to be so,” she wrote.

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