Regina tenant wins dispute with landlord over frozen pipes
Hall Rental Homes Inc. to pay Regina mother security deposit and $631.53 in damages
A Regina mother is celebrating a victory in a dispute with her former landlord over frozen water pipes.
In early March, Amanda Smytaniuk broke her one-year lease and moved out of her rental house when her landlord refused to thaw the pipes.
Her landlord, Jason Hall of Hall Rental Homes Inc., had paid to have the pipes fixed the first three times they froze, but refused the fourth time. In March, Jason Hall said each occurrence had cost him $220.
Rentalsman rules in tenant's favour
A hearing was held on July 14 by the province's Office of Residential Tenancies and the rentalsman ruled in Smytaniuk's favour.
According to the rentalsman's decision, "the landlord's refusal to restore water service on the final occasion was a breach of his duty to provide a habitable rental unit and entitled the tenant to vacate the unit as she did."
Smytaniuk has two children, and at the time of the incident claimed the lack of running water due to the frozen pipes made the home uninhabitable.
"The fact of the matter is the renter does have rights. We are paying for the home. And the landlord has to honour those sorts of things," said Smytaniuk.
She said she was melting snow in her home to wash clothes and dishes, showering at the gym and buying bottled water for drinking. But eventually it came to a point where Smytaniuk felt it was time to leave the house.
According to the rentalsman's decision, Hall Rental Homes Inc., will have to repay Smytaniuk the full security deposit of $1495. The landlord had withheld the security deposit when Smytaniuk broke the lease.
When he spoke to CBC this winter, Hall said the company that fixed the pipes also advised the taps in the home should be left on to prevent more freezing- something he said he asked Smytaniuk to do. Smytaniuk said she kept the taps running, but still experienced frozen pipes.
When the pipes in the rental home froze for the fourth time, Smytaniuk said she was told she was responsible for that incident and would have to get the work done herself.
'Landlord's responsibility to maintain water service'
However, in its ruling, the rentalsman said, "it remains the landlord's responsibility to maintain the water service to the unit even if the tenant is doing something to confound the landlord's efforts." If the tenant was doing something to hamper the landlord's efforts, then the landlord would be required to apply for possession and damages to the Residential Tenancies Office.
The rentalsman also ruled Smytaniuk owed the landlord $250 in damages for a broken door and not disposing of garbage that was left behind. But the rentalsman also ruled the landlord owed Smytaniuk half of the March rent at $747.50 and $134.03 for meals she had to purchase when her kitchen was not in use due to no running water. That meant in addition to the security deposit, the landlord also owed Smytaniuk $631.53.
The landlord has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
CBC News left messages for Jason Hall, but those calls were not returned before the time of publication.