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My roommate trying to fix the bathtub after we discovered the kitchen sink empties into it

Renovating responsibly

Our first week at our condo in Vancouver we discovered that our kitchen sink drained into our downstairs bathtub, our…

By Heather Amos , in Vancouver's bitter suite life? , on January 20, 2009 Tags: , , ,

Our first week at our condo in Vancouver we discovered that our kitchen sink drained into our downstairs bathtub, our fridge leaked cups of water everyday, the doors didn’t quite shut, the lights didn’t quite work and a small ecosystem had sprouted out of a potato we found under our kitchen sink.  We had found ourselves a nice little fixer upper, a leaking condo undergoing renovations.

My roommate trying to fix the bathtub after we discovered the kitchen sink empties into it
My roommate trying to fix the bathtub after we discovered the kitchen sink empties into it.

At first it was a bit funny to cook and study with headlamps on, and it wasn’t long before our lights were  fixed and working.  What wasn’t so funny was the realization that our privacy was entirely compromised and would be for the remainder of the year.

Curtains could not be installed on windows without windowsills.  This meant that every morning at seven, a group of men would be outside our windows starting their days.  After a few “exciting” incidents we learned it was just better to be up and on our way by seven.

One Tuesday afternoon we arrived home to see plastering had begun.  Our house had been completely rearranged and covered in plastic and a thick layer of plaster dust.  This lasted for about a week and a half, as the leaking walls prevented the plaster from drying properly.  When the job was complete no one cleaned up the toxic plaster dust or put our place back in order.  We spent two full days scrubbing.

The renovations were never supposed to take so long and as our condo becomes more livable, it becomes more of a home.  As a tenant surely we have some rights to what is going on in the space we pay to live in.  The place to turn to in this situation is British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Office.

Another roommate investigating the surprise platering job
Another roommate investigating the surprise platering job

A landlord has a right and responsibility to maintain and repair their property during a tenancy.  Nonetheless, as a tenant you have the right to quiet enjoyment of the property.  This means that the landlord can make every effort to minimize disruption and respect all the guidelines about entering the rental property, and still the tenant has certain rights.   If there has been a loss of use of a portion of the property, the tenants may be eligible for compensation.  To receive this compensation the tenant’s responsibility is to put a dollar value on the interruptions they have experienced and give this information to the landlord in writing.  If this does not work, the tenant can contact the Residential Tenancy Office to intervene.

On the other side of things, the landlord is able to raise rent more than the allowable limit after completing significant renovations to a property.