Landlord wins fight with tenant over Vancouver rental

A landlord-tenant dispute that has been simmering since March 2016 has ended in a victory for Vancouver property management company Hollyburn Properties.

B.C. Supreme Court judge upholds eviction order granted by Residential Tenancy Branch

Cintia Szabo, 15, and her mother Tunde Zalaba have moved their family to Richmond after a month of living with friends and at the YMCA. (Glen Kuglestadt/CBC)

A landlord-tenant dispute that started over an alleged rodent infestation has ended in a victory for Vancouver property management company Hollyburn Properties

Tunde Zalaba and her daughters, 15-year-old Cintia Szabo and 10-year-old Zsofia Szabo, moved into the Marpole district apartment in June 2014. 

In March 2016, the family reported mice in their home. 

In May, a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) arbitrator determined that there was a mouse infestation in the Zalaba unit and ordered she be given a 50 per cent rent rebate until the problem was eradicated. 

In a second hearing in August, an arbitrator ruled Hollyburn had failed to produce evidence of intensified efforts to get rid of the mice.

Zalaba was awarded an 80 per cent reduction of her rent retroactive to June.

In November, there was another RTB hearing.  

Hollyburn claimed rent arrears — that rent had been payable in full since September when a pest control company confirmed there was no longer evidence of a mouse infestation. 

Hollyburn told the RTB it had twice given the tenants a 24 hour notice of entry for pest inspection in October and November but the family would not allow them in.

In a decision in favour of Hollyburn, the arbitrator wrote about the tenants, "I find their evidence is self serving and may be motivated by obtaining further rebates."  

The RTB granted Hollyburn a monetary order for rental loss. 

Zalaba applied for a review of the decision, saying subsidies from the provincial government and the Jewish Family Service Agency had covered her rent. 

Her application was dismissed. 

By mid-December Zalaba and her girls faced eviction

The matter went to yet another RTB hearing on Jan. 10, 2017.

This time an arbitrator sided with the landlord. 

Zalaba took the matter to B.C. Supreme Court. 

A judge ruled in favour of Hollyburn Properties and the family was evicted on February 23. 

Zalaba said she and her girls lived with a friend and at the YMCA until they could move into a Richmond apartment on April 1. 

"I just want to, I guess, for anyone who is listening right now that tenants do have rights and they should fight." said Cintia Szabo. 

Court records show the family was evicted by another property management company from another Vancouver apartment in summer 2012.