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Landlord & Tenant Law> - Proceedings - Appeals and judicial review - Standard of review - Reasonableness - Patent unreasonableness

Thursday, August 11, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the landlord from dismissal of his application for judicial review of a Residential Tenancy Branch (Branch) decision in favour of the tenants. The landlord rented residential premises to the tenants. The tenants provided a security deposit of $662.50. At the end of the tenancy, the parties met to conduct an exit inspection. One tenant provided his place of business as a forwarding address for return of the security deposit. The landlord refused to accept it due to his belief he could not send registered mail or deliver in person to a tenant’s business address. The tenants affirmed their forwarding address in writing. The landlord conducted a land title search and found the tenants owned a rural property in Mount Currie. The landlord accordingly sent a cheque for the security deposit to the property by registered mail. The letter was not claimed and was returned to the landlord by Canada Post. Thus, the security deposit was not returned to the tenants within the 15 days required by the Residential Tenancy Act. The tenants applied to the Branch to double the deposit due to the late payment. The hearing proceeded in the landlord’s absence and the arbitrator awarded the tenants double the security deposit plus the hearing fee. The award was confirmed following a Branch review and judicial review. The landlord appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The chambers judge who presided over the judicial review correctly identified patent unreasonableness as the standard of review and properly applied it. The issue of whether the landlord returned the security deposit to the tenants in compliance with the Act was a question of mixed law and fact. The tenants had given the landlord a forwarding address in writing. The landlord rejected it based on a misapprehension that the tenants subsequently attempted to correct by email. The landlord disregarded the email and embarked on a speculative and unreliable means of identifying an alternate address. The arbitrator’s conclusion that the landlord failed to comply with the Act was not patently unreasonable and was logically supported on the evidentiary record.