A Richmond landlord is challenging in court a decision to award his former tenants almost $50,000 in compensation.
Zhi Yong Xu was ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to pay tenants Janice Carol Walmsley and Michael John Penman $49,200 after it was found that a clerical error was made when he gave them a notice of termination in October 2021.
However, Xu, who owns the unit on Westminster Highway near No. 6 Road, filed a petition at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver last week to protest the RTB ruling.
According to the petition, Xu had entered into a tenancy agreement with Walmsley and Penman in October 2019 for a two-year fixed-term tenancy.
Rent would cost $4,100 per month and Xu would be entitled to end the tenancy based on the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).
Xu later served a two-month notice through his real estate agent to the tenants in July of 2021, stating that he was terminating the agreement in October on the basis that he or “a close family member” would be moving in pursuant to the RTA.
Walmsley and Penman then moved out on Sept. 30 and Xu’s dad moved in on Feb. 21 the next year.
Landlord misrepresenting reason for ending tenancy: Tenants
However, on June 8, 2022, the tenants filed an application with the RTB to seek compensation on the basis that Xu misrepresented his reason for terminating their tenancy, alleging that the form he’d filled in indicated his spouse was moving in and not his father.
According to Xu, his agent had apparently marked the wrong circle when filling in the standardized form.
During the RTB hearing in February of this year, the arbitrator decided that the discrepancy with what was written on Xu’s notice was a “fatal flaw.”
Ultimately, the arbitrator decided the tenants were entitled to 12 months’ rent, which equated to $49,200.
Arbitrator falsely simplified issue: Landlord
In his petition, Xu opposed the RTB arbitrator’s decision, claiming that he made mistakes such as mixing up fact and law by relying on the form when the landlord is not legally required to identify who is moving in, unless it’s the landlord or a close family member.
“The arbitrator failed to grapple with the real issue, and instead rested his decision on a false simplification of the issue – the marking of the wrong box on the notice – and awarded the tenants a windfall of nearly $50,000,” reads the petition.
Xu seeks an order to declare the RTB decision void and dismiss the tenants’ RTB application, or that the application be re-determined by a different arbitrator.
According to a civil claim filed by the tenants in April this year, Xu has yet to pay the compensation.