Landlord uses smelly ferret as excuse to not return damage deposit

May 16 2023, 2:09 pm

A roommate dispute turned foul after the landlord refused to return a damage deposit,  thanks to the odour left behind by a smelly ferret.

Samantha Jones took a dispute against her former roommate and landlord Klara McCallum to a BC Civil Resolution Tribunal hearing.

Jones suggested that she left things clean and tidy when she left, but McCallum refused to return the damage deposit. Instead, she claimed $750 for the return of the deposit.

McCallum said that they retained the deposit because the two pet ferrets Jones kept left a strong odour in the room. McCallum claimed they had to discard a chair, replace a mattress and hire cleaners to remove the smell and that she couldn’t rent the room for almost a month.

According to some facts about the dispute, McCallum allowed Jones to keep two pet ferrets, and Jones had the ferrets for about four-and-a-half months.

Jones didn’t completely refute the claim about the smell, adding that ferrets generally have a musky smell.

At some point, McCallum texted Jones that a new renter refused to move in because of the smell. Jones suggested opening windows to let the smell dissipate. Jones returned to “further clean the room,” including mopping the floors and cleaning the walls with vinegar water.

The tribunal member overseeing the case said that an animal smell could constitute “damage” pertaining to a deposit, adding though that it might be hard to prove that an odour is unreasonable. However, the tribunal member added that there was no odour evidence after Jones re-cleaned the room. They also said that McCallum provided no proof that there was an agreement for someone else to move in.

The landlord also failed to provide evidence of ferret odour penetrating the items like the mattress and fabric chair when pleading her case about the deposit.

For those reasons, McCallum was ordered to pay Jones $908.41, including $740 in debt for the damage deposit return, $19.74 in pre-judgement interest, and $138.67 in court fees.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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