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Renovation noise drives Port Coquitlam tenant crazy but she still has to pay the rent

Neither the landlord nor the tenant got everything they wanted in this tricky case, but the tenant ended up paying more than $2,000 in damages and unpaid rent.
GettyImages-Home Renovation
A tenant left her unit without paying rent because the landlord was doing noisy renovations.

You can't just up and leave without paying your last month's rent — even if noise from your landlord's basement renovations are driving you nuts.

At least that's the recent decision of the Residential Tenancy Branch, which handled a tricky dispute between a Port Coquitlam landlord and tenant.

In the case posted online, a tenant sought $5,000 for breach of her right to quiet enjoyment of her rental accommodation and share of utilities, and said she was entitled to a month's free rent because of the renovations.

The tenant said she was aware that renovations to the basement were planned but was told they would take place when she was at away or at work.

But the noise became unbearable.

"They were drilling and it was so much noise," the tenant said.

The landlord, meanwhile, said the tenant was aware of the renovation plan and efforts were made to do work when the tenant wasn't home.

Efforts made to reduce dust, noise: landlord

Sawing was done outside, dust was sealed off and an electrical metre was put in to separate electrical use for construction from that of the tenant.

"Only once was I there until 5:30 p.m., and that was the latest ever," the landlord said.

The landlord sought $1,400 for unpaid rent as well as reimbursement for money spent to fix a broken window and siding from damage from a hockey puck being struck against the building by the tenant's son.

Money spent to clean up cat urine and feces, repair floors and other damage was also sought.

However, the tenant said she didn't own a cat and any mess left under the porch, for example, was left by the neighbour's cat.

To deal with the challenging dispute, the arbitrator had to weigh the tenant's claims and evidence against the landlord's charges and concerns.

In the end, neither side got everything they asked for.

The tenant was told they didn't specify what the $5,000 claim was for and so she only got $600 or $200 a month for her loss of peace and enjoyment because of the noise.

Tenant told she has to pay to clean cat feces

"In determining whether the breach of the right to enjoyment has occurred, it is necessary to balance the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment with the landlord's right and responsibility to maintain the premises," the RTB decided.

She would also have to pay the $1,450 rent she owed and cover the cost of some of the repairs. outside of those considered normal wear and tear.

However, the landlord didn't get as much as they asked for because they didn't produce evidence to justify the repair costs.

Still, the RTB agreed that the landlord should be compensated for repairing the window ($241.94), siding ($393.75), cleaning crawl space ($160), repairing the hardwood floor ($787.50), drywall refinishing $90 and porch and carpet cleaning ($291.90).

She also had to pay for removing cat feces under the porch at a cost of $480 even though she said she doesn't own a cat.

"I find that the tenant was responsible for cleaning the cat feces from under the porch because she encouraged the neighbourhood cat to frequent the residential property," the RTB noted, adding that this was "emphasized" by the fact that she took the cat with her when she moved.

After subtracting money already paid to the landlord for a security deposit and pet damage ($1,200) and compensation for noise ($600), the tenant was ordered to pay $2,194.39 to her landlord, including a filing fee.

"The tenants are both partially successful in their respective applications," the RTB stated.