Renter Finds Coal In Stocking – “It still seems really unfair to me that the landlord made a verbal agreement and then changed her mind at the last second.”

“Just wanted to share an unfortunate renting anecdote involving a friend of mine, as a warning to others and to see if anyone out there knows the best way to deal with this.
My friend decided to move at the end of this month and found a place around the 20th December. Being right before Christmas the landlord and her agreed to do the paperwork around the 26th-27th. My friend called on those days but didn’t get an answer and finally got through on the 28th. The landlord then said that she had spoken with her daughter and decided that maybe it wasn’t the best idea for her to allow a cat in the house and told my friend that she can no longer rent the place. (The cat had been discussed before the initial showing and wasn’t at that prior point seen as an issue). Three days before the end of the month doesn’t leave much time to find a new place, so she will likely now have to move stuff to storage, sleep on a friend’s couch, and find a new place come the New Year.
Technically, no papers were signed, but it still seems really unfair to me that the landlord made a verbal agreement and then changed her mind at the last second. So, just a warning to everyone out there that the deal isn’t really done until all the paperwork is in place. And if anyone knows the best way to proceed about getting the landlord to perhaps pay moving costs or something (RTO, small claims court?) that would be much appreciated.”

– davers, by e-mail to vreaa, 30 Jan 2011

Nothing was signed, so we’d strongly suspect the prospective tenant has no legal recourse; others may think or know different.
Sometimes renting can be very inconvenient.
We hope your friend finds a good place, davers, and that you both have a good 2012 nonetheless.
– vreaa

12 responses to “Renter Finds Coal In Stocking – “It still seems really unfair to me that the landlord made a verbal agreement and then changed her mind at the last second.”

  1. Renters Revenge

    Or find a different home for the cat. I’m a renter right now but I have also been a landlord in the past – I would never, ever allow a cat. I sympathize with the landlord on this one.

  2. 1) Verbal agreement = no agreement
    2) Who leaves such important thing like signing of a tenancy agreement for the last few days before moving?
    3) Renting from an amateur landlord is very different from renting from a reputable property management company. I bet this landlord is an amateur. PM companies are usually much more transparent and professional (not ideal, but good enough)

    • I would second that comment. I would only rent from a Property Management. I’m currently with Crosby PM, they probably have some units that accept cats. The friend needs to call them and I’m sure they’ll find something for her.

      BTW, in other contries, it’s not allowed to refuse to rent to someone because he/she has a pet. It’s the renter’s responsibility to return the property back in its original state. I guess it’s better that way. One day, landlords will refuse to rent to people with kids…

      • They already are! Try renting from any chinese landlord with a kid that’s between 5 to 16, especially 1 or more boys.

  3. I have to disagree with bubbly. Contracts can be verbal, and it sounds like they had one. There was an offer, an acceptance, consideration, and an intention to form a contract. Proving its existence, especially if there were e-mails involved, probably wouldn’t be difficult, either.

    As so often is the case with the law, though, the important question is whether the potential expense, hassle, and timeline of claiming your legal right to the apartment or damages from breaking the contract are worthwhile. Usually, the answer is no.

    If your friend does want to pursue damages or lay claim to that apartment, her best bet might be to speak to UBC’s walk in legal clinic – they deal with a lot of similar amateur landlord gong shows on a regular basis, they would know her options (probably something with the RTO).

  4. Thanks for the help guys, on a stroke of luck she was able to find another place and just moved today, sometimes things just work out. I will keep everyone posted on what comes of this though in case anyone runs into a similar problem.

  5. granite countertop

    Glad she found a place, davers.
    Good anecdote. Renters are better off financially, but the bubble means most places for rent are from amateur landlords unprepared for the responsibility. Plenty of horror stories.

  6. Even with a fully signed and paid lease, what protection does a nearly-tenant get? we’re talking about maybe $3000 of potential value in broken contract, not enough to get any real firepower involved. At least with all your stuff in there it’s slightly more awkward to be removed. That doesn’t seem to stop shenanigans either.

  7. Tim Riggins is right. While it is often best just to move on in a matter like this, it sounds like what the landlord did isn’t right. Small Claims Court can provide a remedy in a situation like this. One can represent themselves in Small Claims Court (Provincial Court). Damages of up to $25,000 can be awarded. The Small Claims Rules also encourage frank discussion early in the process at a settlement conference or mediation, which can be helpful in a situation like this. Timelines can be quick: a defendant must file a reply to a claim within 14 days of being served. The exact procedure depends on where you file, but it is worth knowing that simplified trial options are available where an experienced lawyer acts as a justice of the peace, the trial lasts no more than one hour, and it is scheduled at a convenient time (e.g. in the evening)

  8. The Residential Tenancy Board is also extremely helpful in providing information about whether or not a case might be successfully mediated, with rent or deposits returned or abated in some cases. You’re in for a long wait on the phone usually anytime you want to reach them, but it’s worth it. I haven’t been able just now to locate their phone number, but it’s easily obtainable if you call City Hall and ask for it (Dial 311 and an operator there will provide it).

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