"Get out": Tenant sues landlord after being evicted for overusing the heat

Mar 6 2023, 8:41 pm

A spicy rental dispute between a tenant and landlord wound up in a BC Small Claims Court, with the tenant claiming she was wrongfully evicted for overusing heat.

The dispute was between the tenant, Margaret Jo-Ann Ferriman, and the landlord, Carol Ann Pearson.

Ferriman hoped to get $4,951.57 in the tribunal case, including $1,200 for a rent and deposit refund, $1,973.65 in various expenses, and $827.92 for medical products she had to throw away, and $950 in punitive damages.

Many wild allegations were thrown around in this fiery case, including the landlord, Pearson, claiming the tenant attacked her with a bread knife. But, unfortunately, she couldn’t prove this to the court.

In this case, some of the undisputed facts include that Ferriman moved into the Pearson home, where she began renting a room on November 1, 2021. Ferriman paid a $350 deposit plus $850 for the month’s rent. Utilities were included.

A contract was signed before Ferriman moved in, but the agreement wasn’t submitted to evidence. However, Pearson suggested the contract included a term limiting how much heat Ferriman could use.

Ferriman said that on November 6, Perason told her the “living arrangement was not working.” Pearson gave Ferriman three months’ notice to vacate the property. In addition, Pearson had written a letter to Ferriman which complained about the heat usage.

On November 9, Pearson gave another six-week notice to move out by December 30, 2021. Pearson complained that Ferriman continued to misuse the heat, “leaving it on maximum.”

Pearson also complained that Ferriman was leaving the lights on.

Things turned sour on November 11, when “the parties had an altercation.”

Ferriman says that Pearson wanted her out “right away” and that she would be calling someone to collect Ferriman’s belongings. Ferriman contacted the police, who came and spoke with both parties.

Perason’s version of the story is that she went to put Ferriman’s chair in her room, and Ferriman then started yelling and pushing her. Pearson then says Ferriman went to the kitchen, pulled out a bread knife, and came at Pearson, telling her to “get out.”

Ferriman denied this story, and the tribunal member suggested that there was not sufficient evidence that the bread knife incident happened.

“I find it more likely than not that Ms. Ferriman did not threaten Ms. Pearson with a knife on November 11. So, I find it unproven that Ms. Ferriman breached the parties’ agreement.”

While she wasn’t afforded the total $4,951.57, the tribunal member, Nav Shukla, did side with the tenant.

Ferriman was awarded $1,086.57 in damages, $20.62 in pre-judgment interest, and $100 in CRT fees.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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