BC rental legal fight highlights the importance of a written agreement

A BC rental situation ended in a legal fight due to a lack of notice and no written agreement.

As this BC Civil Resolution Tribunal dispute highlights, making sure there’s a written rental agreement in place if you’re renting a new home is always a good idea.

Hundreds to thousands of dollars were potentially at stake for either the renter or the landlord, but the tribunal sided with the landlord in this particular case.

In a decision posted publicly, Isolde Yovendi claimed $475 for her unreturned security deposit. Angeliza Francisco, whom Yovendi was renting a room in a laneway from, filed a counterclaim seeking $3,627.57 in damages, including $95o for one month’s rent and other unspecified damages.

The case focused on whether or not Yovendi was required to give notice and, if so, how much notice was required before moving out.

Francisco lived in a laneway with two bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs. Yovendi found a listing for one of the upstairs rooms. On November 22, 2022, Francisco and SV showed the room, and Yovendi liked it. She then paid a $475 deposit.

“The parties did not have a written agreement,” the tribunal decision states.

The tribunal adds that verbal agreements are enforceable but more challenging to prove. Both sides didn’t dispute specific facts about the rental, like the rent amount and the fact that pets and parties were not allowed.

Yovendi paid $950 for rent in December 2022 and January 2023. On January 12, Yovendi’s mom messaged Francisco to tell her that Yovendi was moving out to live with a friend by the start of February.

Francisco was surprised and said she needed at least two months’ notice. She then said Yovendi had to pay at least February’s rent.

On January 13, Yovendi confirmed that she’d be out on January 31, 2023, and Francisco said she didn’t accept the short notice. Yovendi ended up moving on January 31, and Francisco kept the deposit. That amounted to just 19 days of notice.

Reviewing the facts of the case, the tribunal referred to the initial conversation on November 22, 2022.

The tribunal member overseeing the case determined, “I find the parties did not discuss notice.”

This is despite Francisco’s written statement from SV, whom the tribunal deemed not to be a neutral witness.

Yovendi’s version of events suggested that if she wanted to move out, Francisco said, “Just let me know.”

The tribunal didn’t agree with Yovendi that 19 days of notice was reasonable but did say that she was entitled to her security deposit back. At the same time, it was decided that Francisco was entitled to the rent for February minus the security deposit.

Yovendi was ordered to pay Francisco $629.13, which included the unpaid rent and tribunal fees.