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Coquitlam mom's struggle to pay expenses not enough to save her from eviction

You can be evicted after just three late rent payments, the B.C. Rental Tenancy Branch explained in a recent decision.
For rent sign
A Coquitlam renter was evicted for missing rent payments five times.

A Coquitlam mother who blamed a banking error for difficulties paying rent and claimed to be struggling with high expenses, including keeping her son in hockey, lost her bid to stay in her rental home.

In seeking to keep her apartment, for which she paid $729 a month, the woman told a B.C. Rental Tenancy Branch (RTB) eviction hearing that she was having difficulties getting her affairs sorted because she had just fled a second stage transition house due to assault.

The landlord stated that she was late paying rent five times in a six-month period, including months she was required to pay in cash because her post-dated cheques were returned NSF.

Missed child support payments added to woes

In adjudicating the case as to whether the landlord should be allowed to serve the tenant with a one-month eviction notice, the arbitrator's decision, recently posted online, painted a picture of a woman struggling to balance expenses with income.

"The tenant said that she moved to the rental unit in May 2019, she was working part time….and didn’t have everything quite figured out yet. As soon as [the agent] called me, I paid her the full amount on the 12th in cash," the hearing was told.

The woman blamed the bank for her first NSF cheque and said she had difficulties scheduling time with the landlord to pay the rent bill in cash until she was allowed to make the payments via e-transfer.

"I usually have enough cash. I don't get child support and my child tax has been garnished," the woman noted.

"I make $2,000.00 a month for everything. There are months that it is very much a struggle, so some months are harder for me than others. I do try to communicate with [D.B.] when I’m waiting for money from my ex. He stopped paying me. Having to pay my rent is a struggle."

Rent was paid late or in instalments

Documentation provided showed that over six months, first and last months' rents were paid, and the remaining were late due to NSF cheques or paid in full but over multiple payments.

According to the arbitrator, three late rent payments is enough for an eviction notice.

"I have considered the tenant's testimony that one late payment was caused by a bank error, and that she had some difficulty getting her cash or money orders to the landlord on time, due to scheduling difficulties.

"However, other tenants face the same challenges as the tenant in terms of getting the funds to the landlord; I find it more likely than not that if the tenant had been able to pay her rent on time, that she would or could have found a way to do so."

The arbitrator upheld the landlord's one-month notice, stating that the landlord provided "sufficient evidence" to support eviction.