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Trashed house has B.C. landlords rethinking renting, looking for protection

Rental property now has holes in the wall, broken cubboards, and scratched floors

A Maple Ridge couple are rethinking renting out their property after they claim they discovered damage done by former tenants costing them tens of thousands of dollars.

Dominika McDonald, and her husband Gavin, say they worked hard to purchase their first property on Stanton Avenue in Maple Ridge, but their tenants, who recently moved out, left them with repairs they estimate to be about $50,000 or more.

A tour by Black Press Media revealed multiple holes in the walls, some badly patched with drywall, others left untouched. Engineered hardwood floors, both upstairs and down, were all scratched. There was water damage to the flooring. Cupboards had doors pulled off hinges, and entry doors were pulled off frames. The metal frame holding the sliding doors leading to the back deck was pulled out of place. Part of the exterior siding was melted by the barbecue, and water damage from the kitchen went all the way down to the garage.

The handrail leading up to the living room from the front door was completely gone, in addition to many of the balusters.

“They didn’t care about this house,” said Gavin about the tenants who took occupancy in June 2020.

He said they did go into the house intermittently over the course of the tenancy to inspect their property and, he said, there was some damage from moving in and they fixed it.

According to the province, a landlord has a right to enter any common area that is shared like a hallway, courtyard or laundry facility with no notice required. They are also allowed entry once per month to inspect the condition of a property, with proper notice give to the tenants – proper notice being a written notice of the date, time, and purpose for entering the property, delivered in person with at least 24 hours notice before the landlord enters the unit. A tenant does not need to be present for the landlord to enter, as long as proper notice was given.

Landlords are also allowed to gain access to the unit with proper notice to tenants for maintenance and repairs or to show the property to prospective buyers.

The first few inspections were routine and regular, said Gavin. During the tenancy there was also some damage done to the property where doors were removed and replaced.

Gavin said the last inspection was done in February or March and at that time “it wasn’t great,” he said.

According to one Canadian insurance company, landlord insurance will cover certain types of “unintentional tenant damage,” but not intentional damage to a unit including spray paint on walls, or holes, or broken cupboards.

Another insurance company said landlord insurance covers damage to property like walls, floors, fixtures, heating and cooling systems, but subject to the terms of the policy which will specify the exact risks that are covered.

“We don’t have tenant vandalism coverage,” explained Gavin, because it was an extra $800 a year, he claimed, and only covered up to $20,000 in damage.

Currently the couple are going through dispute resolution with the BC Residential Tenancy Branch in order to be able to keep the damage deposit of $1,500 and to also try to get some compensation.

Dominika said they will probably rent out the house again once the repairs are finished.

She said the house has sentimental value and they want it for their children when they grow up.

However, in a housing market where there are a shortage of long-term rentals, the couple wanted to bring awareness to the flip side of the coin.

“If the government wants private owners to be landlords to rent houses, they’ve not set up any kind of situation that makes it conducive to do so,” said Gavin.

Dominika wants a spotlight shone on how renters can “sabotage” the market as well.

“Where is the protection for people like us,” she asked.

READ ALSO: Rental home features mould and ‘rat poo’

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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