B.C. Supreme Court Overturns Gordon Nelson’s 38% Rent Increase

thumbs up B.C. Supreme Court Overturns Gordon Nelsons 38% Rent IncreaseGordon Nelson Ordered to Refund Rents; Case to be Reheard

Today, the Supreme Court of British Columbia overturned the ruling that allowed landlords Gordon Nelson Investments to increase rents at Seafield Apartments by up to 38%.  The case is remitted for rehearing by a different Dispute Resolution Officer at the Residential Tenancy Office.

Furthermore, the decision orders Gordon Nelson Investments to return all of the additional rent it collected as a result of the April 2, 2009 decision.

The Honourable Madam Justice Loo of the BC Supreme Court found that the Residential Tenancy Office’s (RTO) decision awarding the 38% rent increase was “patently unreasonable”.

In our reading of the judgment, the four points used to overrule the RTO decision were:

  • That the Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) “failed to comply with the statutory requirement” by not considering the Tenants’ evidence. Madam Justice wrote: “…the Officer must consider the Tenants’ relevant submissions. It defies common sense to imagine an affected tenant…would make a submission showing that there are rental units that attract higher rents.”
  • That the DRO was “patently unreasonable” in awarding the landlord an above normal rent increase when the landlord had only two “comparable” units demonstrating their case. (In contrast, our evidence – which was disregarded – contained scores of comparable units, in some cases even identical, at similar or lower rents). She wrote: “…it is doubtful that s. 23(1)(a) requires merely two comparator units.”
  • The DRO made an error of law by basing her analysis on rents before (rather than after) the regular annual rent increase (3.7%) permitted under the law;
  • The Justice concluded that “the officer made a patently unreasonable factual error” when the DRO granted the rent increase based on apartments that were not, in fact, comparable to units at the Seafield by her own admission.

Madam Justice concluded on page 19, paragraph 49 of the decision:

“The Officer’s decision of April 2, 2009 must be set aside and the underlying dispute is remitted for rehearing by another dispute Resolution Officer…In addition, the Landlord must refund the Tenants any additional rents paid as a consequence of the Officer’s decision.”

Seafielders are incredibly relieved at this ruling as the second of three phases of the RTO’s rent increase decision was about to take effect in February.  This would have raised rents by another $170 a month for some tenants, who were already paying $170 more as of August 2009.  These increases would have forced many tenants to leave the building, breaking up the Seafield community.

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5 Responses to “B.C. Supreme Court Overturns Gordon Nelson’s 38% Rent Increase”

  1. Arwen Says:

    HURRAY! I’m SO thrilled.
    Thanks on behalf of every BC renter. You guys really pulled together and saw this through, and I’m so happy you’re getting your money back!

  2. jesse Says:

    Interesting analysis and interpretations. Thanks.

  3. Derek Richer Says:

    What wonderful news. I am extremely proud of your courageous, cohesive spirit, which has clearly done much to reassert the rights of tenants in our gravely misgoverned province.

    The geographical rent increase clause should never have been added to the Residential Tenancy Act; its passage by Campbell and his cohort of clowns is a callous act of wickedness. And to back up my assertion I refer to Robbie Burns:

    “Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others, this is my criterion of goodness; and whatever injures society at large, or any individual in it, this is my measure of iniquity.”

    May other tenants desirous of justice heed the tremendous lesson of your success, and take heart that greed does not have to be the final determinant of rent increases.

    Now if we could only unite the millions opposed to the HST.

  4. Brigitte Says:

    Congratulations on this judgment. All of you are doing a fantastic job, standing up for your rights as renters at the Seafield.

  5. Steve Says:

    Congrats, guys. The west end is safe….for now.

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