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Landlords, tenants subject to tougher penalties<

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The red hand of regulation gained a firmer grip on conflicts between landlords and tenants this week, as the province moved to enact a new system of financial penalties.

“With more people than ever making their homes in B.C., it’s important that we have tools in place to ensure landlords meet their responsibilities,” said Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman in a government press release. “We will not tolerate those who repeatedly violate rental laws.”

Errant landlords could wind up hemorrhaging cash if they allow units to fester in disrepair, while tenants could find themselves in the crosshairs if they repeatedly rampage through their dwellings. The penalties, effective immediately, can carry a sting as painful as $5,000 per infraction, with additional fees levied each day the problem goes unresolved.

According to the release, all “repeated and serious violations” of the Residential Tenancy and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Acts are subject to the penalties, which will be administered by the Residential Tenancy Branch.

“I’m definitely pleased to see the ministry taking a harder line against frequent abusers of the Act,” said Marla Zucht, general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority. “Our office is contacted throughout the year by both landlords and tenants who are having problems. The frequent infractions that we hear about from tenants are landlords who won’t respond to repairs, or inappropriate evictions, or difficulty getting security deposits returned. With landlords, we hear about how do they get difficult tenants removed and how do they recover damages beyond security deposits. There’s always two sides to the story, and we hear them both.”

Before applying penalties, the Residential Tenancy Branch will first weigh the severity of the violation, the frequency of its occurrence, and efforts made to stabilize any fallout. Financial benefits reaped by either party as a result of the infraction will also be considered.

Those on the receiving end of a penalty will have the opportunity to review the evidence mounted against them before crafting a response. Should the penalty still be applied, that party can then request a review from the branch.

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