Langley landlord ordered to pay $4,000 in compensation

 

Arbitrator cites ‘unconscionable’ act of putting farm’s hydro costs on house tenants’ bill

 
 
 
 
Cinnamon Dagsvik said that her case highlights the importance of tenants having the right documents.
 

Cinnamon Dagsvik said that her case highlights the importance of tenants having the right documents.

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo

Cinnamon and Erik Dagsvik had rented a big home before and had a good idea of the electricity costs. Still, it took 3½ years before they did the detective work and determined why the bill was so high for their 1,500-square-foot 1950s rental home on a blueberry farm in Langley.

Turns out landlord Randhir Pandher had put most of the electricity costs for his entire 224th Street farm onto the couple’s bill.

In a decision this month, M. Coyne, an arbitrator with the Residential Tenancy Branch, ordered Pandher to compensate the Dagsviks $4,000 for the overpayment plus a $50 filing fee — money he has since paid.

“We would never sign anything or agree to anything open-ended like this,” said Cinnamon Dagsvik.

According to Coyne’s written decision, the Dagsviks began renting the farm home on June 15, 2012, at $1,500 a month plus utilities including hydro.

Concerned about substantially higher hydro bills than they’d encountered in the past, the couple contacted BC Hydro only to learn that there were two meters on the farm — one for their rental house, the landlords’ house, the barn, shops and chicken coop, the other for the farm water shed only.

The tenants sought the advice of an electrician, who confirmed that the landlord’s home and farm buildings were on their meter.

When the Dagsviks complained to Randy Pandher on Oct. 19, 2015, he argued the tenants verbally agreed to the arrangement right from the start and that the rent had been reduced to reflect the arrangement and that it had not been hiked during the 3½ years. The next day Pandher had electricians in to separate the hydro for the rental home and the farm, but refused to offer any financial compensation.

The Dagsviks officially vacated the property on Dec. 31, 2015.

In the decision, Coyne stated that even if such a verbal agreement had existed, it “would be grossly unfair to the tenants and an unconscionable term of any agreement. Tenants are only required to pay utilities for premises that they occupy.”

Cinnamon Dagsvik said that her case highlights the importance of tenants having the right documents, including a written lease, which provided her with “a firm foundation for our case, and to be reimbursed expenses we wrongfully incurred.”

lpynn@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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Cinnamon Dagsvik said that her case highlights the importance of tenants having the right documents.
 

Cinnamon Dagsvik said that her case highlights the importance of tenants having the right documents.

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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