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Hot plate for cooking not enough reason to evict Port Coquitlam tenant: arbitrator

Port Coquitlam landlord takes her son to the residential tenancy branch to resolve dispute.
Getty Hot Plate
Concerns about a hot plate prompted a Port Coquitlam landlord to try to evict her tenant.

Finding an affordable place to rent is increasingly difficult.

From eye-popping rents in Port Moody to fear of getting evicted when someone sells a property, many are turning to the BC Residential Tenancy Branch when things go wrong.

But what do you do when your family wants you gone from the home?

That's what happened in a dispute that was taken to arbitrators when a Port Coquitlam landlord gave one month notice to the tenant, who was her son.

The tenant was paying $1,100 to rent rooms in a home and took the case to the Residential Tenancy Branch, denying both the claims made by the landlord to justify the one-month notice and the eviction itself.

Brother represents landlord in "complex" case

Representing the landlord was the tenant's brother, who agreed with his mother that the tenant was causing problems, including verbal abuse.

The tenant denied this claim and said the dispute had to do with the care of the grandmother, who also lived in the home.

Safety concerns were also raised when the landlord said the tenant was using a hot plate to cook food in their bedroom.

Referencing Port Coquitlam's secondary suite bylaw and B.C.'s building code, the landlord said the hot plate was putting her property "at risk."

However, the landlord was unable to show how her reference to fire separation required for secondary suites justified concerns about the hot plate, the arbitrator stated.

The tenant, meanwhile, had their own concerns because the landlord would enter his room without notice.

With the arbitrator's help, both the landlord and the tenant agreed to a notice of at least 24 hours but not more than 30 days before entry.

Calling the case "complex," the arbitrator said the landlord failed to produce evidence of verbal abuse or a specific reference to the danger of hot plates in her testimony. 

It was the tenant who won the case, and the one-month notice was set aside. 

"In this case, based on the submissions above listed by the landlord that not one reason for cause was established... the tenancy shall continue."

Do hot plates cause fires?

Hot plates aren't banned in residential units and in Vancouver, for example, they are acceptable in Single Room Accommodation.

Indeed, the BC Building Code does not specifically reference hot plates but does require fire separation through construction and materials that will withstand smoke, flames and high temperatures for one hour. 

As for their safety, Fire Prevention Canada (FPC) lists candles, not hot plates, as a common cause of fire. However, it advises people to take care and maintain electrical devices.

Additionally, FPC recommends installing at least one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area. For improved safety, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom.

In Port Coquitlam, meanwhile, the city restricts secondary suites to specific residential zones in its zoning bylaw.