The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed a judicial review of a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) decision to award $14,500 to a tenant wrongfully evicted by the landlords who went onto list the rental unit on Airbnb.
The landlords Robert Blouin and Leslie Ng had contested the decision by June 2020 decision by the RTB arbitrator who awarded Blouin and Ng’s former tenant $14,500 for wrongful eviction.
Blouin and Ng purchased the property at 546 East 20th Avenue, Vancouver in November 2018 and issued two-month notice to end tenancies to the tenant Christopher Stamp, who was paying $1,200 per month as rent, claiming that the landlords intended to move into the property.
But later the landlord had offered to rent the property back to the tenant for $1,450 a month, which is over and above the rent increase allowed by the province.
The tenant vacated the unit in March 2019, only to discover a few months later that it was available on Airbnb.
The tenant then applied to the RTB for dispute resolution, and after the hearing in June 2020, the arbitrator decided in favour of the tenant.
Blouin and Ng argued that they were in fact occupying one room in the former rental unit as a bedroom/home office.
But Madam Justice Fitzpatrick concluded that “a landlord issuing a termination of tenancy notice must abide by the reason given and, if the reason is to occupy the unit, the landlord must then ‘occupy’ the unit as living accommodations and as part of their residential use of the property for at least the ensuing six-month period.”1
“In essence, whether the downsized Rental Unit was rented to Mr. Stamp (or any new tenant) or rented through short term rentals on AirBnb, both scenarios resulted in a landlord not “occupying” the premises,” the justice ruled. “ The fact that they regained the use of one bedroom of the Rental Unit for their own use and occupation did not overcome the characterization of the use of the remainder of the space.”
“In summary, I find that the Landlords have failed to satisfy me that there is any basis upon which to set aside or quash the Decision,” Madam Justice Fitzpatrick concluded. “It is not patently unreasonable, either in respect of the Arbitrator’s reasoning or the result.”
The court also ordered Blouin and Ng to pay costs to the tenant.
Despite the court ruling, neither the City of Vancouver nor Airbnb has taken any action against Blouin and Ng, and the unit is still available on Airbnb2.