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‘Scumlords’ leave Burnaby rental units infested with rats, says tenant

Landlord refusing to get rid of vermin
Rats nibble on crumbs found on a floor.

My Sunday column on Burnaby landlords preventing their tenants from accessing their mailbox by having the only key to a locked mailbox sparked a big response from other tenants.

It seems many renters have trouble accessing their mail, despite clear guidelines governing landlords.

One renter, B.P., says it goes beyond just making renters beg to get their mail.

“I have a similar issue with being a renter and having my mail being gone through, opened and outright taken from the renters who live here,” B.P. wrote about the mail where he rents not secured.

Having someone access your mail can lead to identify theft or not knowing about certain bills arriving and missing payments because of it.

B.P. says that the lack of available rentals left him vulnerable and he ended up renting in a place where the landlords have no taken action with the infestation of rats and mice. The place also has an issue with unauthorized pets that the landlord won’t deal with.

“I made the mistake of renting this place in Burnaby, and signing a one-year lease,” the renter wrote. “The house is in horrible condition, sockets in the walls don't work, we have no proper stove and haven't for over a year now. The house is infested with mice and rats, and the tenants upstairs have 5 kids and stomp and smash and bang and clang all night long, literally from 5 am. till 1 a.m. every single day. I've told the landlord in writing, by phone, by email, by text - nothing works. Never an answer or solution, I work full-time and have a (young) daughter and large dog, so finding a new place has been difficult. I know I'm not going to find a solution to this problem unless I move, but I wanted others to know that they aren't the only ones dealing with scumlords and horrible tenants.”

According to Section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act, landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law. 

Letting your rental be infested with rats and then not doing anything about it is the violation of that.

So B.P. is dealing with tenants from hell and landlords from hell – both at the same time. People will respond that they can file a complaint with the Residential Tenancy Branch, but the wait to have this dealt with when you have rats running around can take a long time so it’s not really much of a solution. B.P. is just trying to protect his daughter as quickly as possible.

On other hand, tenants also bear a responsibility to uphold the cleanliness of their rental units. Further, they must also disclose what pets they plan on bringing into their unit. 

If the tenancy agreement says that pets aren’t allowed and the tenant gets a pet, two things could happen:

  1. The landlord may give the tenant a “breach letter” that explains how the agreement has been broken, how much time is allowed to remove the pet and what will happen if the pet is not removed (e.g. eviction)
  2. The landlord and tenant may agree to change this term and record it in the agreement

Even if a tenant is allowed to get a pet, the tenancy agreement can include restrictions on the size, kind, and the number of pets allowed. If pets are allowed, the landlord will need to schedule a unit inspection. 

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.