Landlord Use Evictions & The Reverse Onus

Landlord Use Evictions & The Reverse Onus

Real Estate Law
Joe Braun
Joe Braun

In British Columbia, residential tenancies are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act [SBC 2002] Chapter 78 (the “RTA”). The RTA outlines at s.49(3) a landlord may end a tenancy in respect of a rental unit if the landlord or a close family member of the landlord intends in good faith to occupy the rental unit.

The key words here are “good faith.” The rules around good faith come from two cases and are summarized nicely in Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline 2A:

In Gichuru v. Palmar Properties Ltd., 2011 BCSC 827, the BC Supreme Court found that good faith requires an honest intention with no dishonest motive, regardless of whether the dishonest motive was the primary reason for ending the tenancy. When the issue of a dishonest motive or purpose for ending the tenancy is raised, the onus is on the landlord to establish they are acting in good faith: Aarti Investments Ltd. v. Baumann, 2019 BCCA 165.

Good faith means a landlord is acting honestly, and they intend to do what they say they are going to do. It means they do not intend to defraud or deceive the tenant; they do not have an ulterior purpose for ending the tenancy; and they are not trying to avoid obligations under the RTA or the tenancy agreement. If a landlord gives a notice to end tenancy to occupy the rental unit, but their intention is to re-rent the unit for higher rent without living there for a duration of at least 6 months, the landlord would not be acting in good faith.

The issue with this policy is that it is exceedingly hard to prove a negative. Additionally, the requirement that a landlord have no ulterior motive is sometimes read broadly to include any possible motivation that is not strictly good faith. This can mean that when a landlord and tenant are not on good terms, this fact can be sufficient to ground a finding of a bad faith eviction. If an arbitrator decides that a landlord was not acting in good faith when giving an eviction notice, the eviction notice is quashed and the tenancy continues as if the notice had never been issued.

This prompts the question: what can a landlord do to ensure they are operating in good faith when evicting a tenant? Some recommendations include:

· explore other options before issuing an eviction notice, including looking into rental accommodation for you or a family member;

· even if a tenant is behaving poorly, keep a level head;

· at a hearing, focus on why you are moving back into the property;

· keep a written record of interactions, and assume that all interactions with your tenant are being recorded; and

· act in good faith throughout the term of the tenancy.

Landlord-Tenant disputes can be stressful and sometimes confusing. It’s always wise to consult a lawyer if you become involved in such a dispute.

This article is intended to provide basic information on how to deal with any potential issues or conflicts that may arise in a tenancy dispute. This article does not replace legal advice. If you would like to speak to a lawyer about your case, please contact our office.

page up arrow for infinity law lawyers victoria bc website