Dead cougar photo shared between roommates leads to wrongful eviction

Apr 25 2023, 7:21 pm

A heated housing situation ended up in a messy wrongful eviction small claims case in BC.

In a case made public through the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal, Serena Kocchar and Owen McNamara claimed $1,070 for one month’s rent, damage deposit, moving expenses, and loss of work.

On the other side of the case, Julia Farry asked the applicants to leave because their behaviour, which included sharing a photo of a dead cougar, made the household feel unsafe. Farry also refused to refund the deposit because of a messy room.

Were Farry’s safety concerns warranted? And did McNamara and Kocchar get what they claimed?

Farry agreed to rent a room to Kocchar in April of last year in a shared house for $689 monthly. The agreement began on May 1. Utilities were an additional cost, and Kocchar also paid a damage deposit of $273.

At the end of the month, Kocchar asked her roommates if McNamara could stay in her room for a “week or so,” and they undisputedly agreed. McNamara was the one who represented both applicants at the tribunal hearing.

Sometime in August, things took a turn. On August 5, Farry asked the applicants to move out of the house by August 8 because some of the roommates felt unsafe due to the applicants’ behaviour.

Farry said she didn’t return the damage deposit following the eviction because the applicants left their room messy and “full of stuff.”

The tribunal inferred that Farry was trying to allege that Kocchar breached the rental agreement by making it feel “unsafe,” but in the end, it found that Farry violated the agreement by not providing one month’s notice.

A dead cougar photo?

Farry says that Kocchar texted one of the roommates a picture of a dead cougar and left the door to her room open with a hatchet on the table.

Farry said that it suggested “violence and hatred.”

The applicants said Kocchar only sent the picture of the dead cougar to one of the roommates “in jest based on their name, and not to be threatening.”

They also explained that the hatchet was a gift from a family member and was stored in the room with the door closed, but one of the roommates saw it when they entered the room without permission.

There was also a situation involving Kocchar and McNamara contracting COVID-19, with Farry saying the applicants were untruthful about the infection, which the tribunal did not find evidence for. The tribunal also found no evidence that Kocchar behaved in an unsafe or reckless way and that Kocchar did not breach the rental agreement.

Ultimately, Kocchar was awarded $273 for her unreturned damage deposit and $5.28 in pre-judgement interest.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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