I just moved out of my house into a new apartment. My previous landlord did not provide me a house key or mailbox key

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Customer: I just moved out of my house into a new apartment. My previous landlord did not provide me a house key or mailbox key for the duration of the tenancy (which is why we moved) he would also hold onto the utilities and provide all of them every couple of months. Now he is holding my deposit. We never did a walk through at the time of move in. When we were moving out I asked him to come at 10 but he arrived sometime around 11 and instead of meeting me directly went through the garage door and walked through on his own. Then he started viewing the property as we were moving. I am trying to understand what my rights are, he told me the month before we were moving out he would allow us to exit the lease at anytime. There was a clause in the agreement that said if we end tenancy we owe 1 months rent, however, because he agreed to us leaving I don't feel that I should have to pay that.
Answered by Debra in 1 hour 2 years ago
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Debra, Expert

Hello: My name is***** I have been a licensed and practicing attorney for almost 30 years, I have a 100% customer satisfaction rating on Just Answer (“JA”), and I would like to work on answering your question today.

If that’s OK, I’ll take a few moments to review your question more thoroughly to give you the most accurate answer I can.m sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions of use of the JA site, but it bears repeating for both you and me. I am providing information in response to your question, and my goal is a 5-star rating once e conclude. With this chat, or a telephone call should you and I think it is appropriate, I am NOT providing legal advice and we are NOT establishing an attorney-client relationship. This is not meant to sound harsh. Rather, it is simply an accurate description of what we are doing today.

During our session, a pop-up may appear asking you whether you want to upgrade to “Premium Service,” including a telephone call. I do not control the pop-up although we can agree to upgrade to a call during the session and I can offer such a Premium Service to you.

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Debra, Expert

Did he say he would waive the one-month rent payment for early termination of lease?

Customer
Also the door handle on the front door had a bathroom handle, so you can turn the lock with a coin, the same door handles were throughout the house and on the basement and backdoor. We had tenants in the basement and so put furniture against the door to ensure no one would access the main part of the house. We had to enter through the garage which meant leaving the laundry room door unlocked. The problem is we know the previous basement tenant had the garage code plus the landlord and we are not sure who else had the garage password ***** we couldn't go out together as a family since October.I understand and appreciate you clarifying the above. I am just seeking some advice.
Customer
No he just said we can leave at anytime, he would be happy to let us go.
Customer
I have 6 children so security is everything for me. This home was not and did not feel safe for us.
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Debra, Expert

It sounds like the house had lots of problems. I'm going to post some more answer momentarily.

Customer
Thank you.
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Debra, Expert

If he didn't expressly waive the one-month rent requirement either orally or in writing, then he can probably enforce it, even if his saying he would be happy to let you go may have implied such a waiver. Waivers have to be express.

However, the habitability of the house, if it wasn't, allows a tenant to vacate the property without any further rent obligations. Given the security issues, there may be an argument that the lack of it made the home uninhabitable. Obviously, the amount at stake my make your decision for you, but if the landlord refuses to give you your deposit, you may have to sue him to get it, and then there are no guarantees.

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Debra, Expert

I know that sounds kind of harsh. How much is the deposit he's holding?

Customer
The deposit is 1350. The additional amount he is after is $2700.
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Debra, Expert

So he's keeping the deposit, and won't repay it until he gets that one-month rent?

Customer
He held the utility bills as well. On the move out date he said you owe me utilities I let him know I did not receive it. He said it doesn't matter you owe it. I even asked him to put it in my name or to apply for online billing. It made it difficult to budget. Then he tried to add the water bill which was never agreed upon in May. I told him I am not paying it because he paid it in January showing that it was not my initial responsibility.
Customer
all of my rent was paid up that last months rent he is seeking is for the cancelling of the tenancy.
Customer
I paid rent early never late.
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Debra, Expert

So, what comprises the $2,700 he is seeking from you?

Customer
That is from a clause he had in the tenancy agreement he made up. It is not from BC tenancy, he also had a clause in the tenancy agreement that said if there is anything of matter in from BC tenancy that will override this written agreement he made he tried to dispute that as well.
Customer
It was basically a penalty if I did not stay the term of the lease. We left 4 months early because of not having house keys, or mailbox keys, or security.
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Debra, Expert

I should have asked this before. Where is the house you were renting?

Customer
In Surrey, British Columbia.
Customer
From what I have read so far, because we never did a walk through at the start of tenancy he loses his right to my damage deposit and same for the exit. We did not go through a check list or sign off on anything. Plus I have videos and pictures.
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Debra, Expert

I was afraid of that. I'm in the U.S. If there are specific regulations in BC regarding leases, I'm not the one to be commenting on them. And, that sounds like what you need clarified. Is that right?

Customer
that is correct.
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Debra, Expert

I should opt out so you can talk to a Canadian attorney on BC lease regulations. I apologize.

Customer
That is ok, I appreciate your help.
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Debra, Expert

No problem. It happens when I get wrapped up in answering the question before making sure it's something I am qualified to talk about.

Customer
It shows your are eager to help.
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Debra, Expert

At least there's that. Thank you.

Customer
Anytime, this is such a frustrating situation and I have had nothing but bad landlords but this is the straw that broke the camels back. He even tried to fight with my husband on the move out day and threatened to take me to court after I asked for my deposit. He is just a little bully.
Customer
do I just end this chat or what happens now?
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Debra, Expert

I'll opt out, so your question stays live and hopefully a Canadian lawyer can pick it up. I'd just hang on until someone qualified can answer your question. You may also want to revise it so that it's clear in your initial post that it involves Canadian law.

Customer
Okay thank you for the advice, I am sorry to have taken up your time.
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Debra, Expert

I am a lawyer in Canada and happy to step in.

Are you asking about the damage deposit?

Customer
Kind of a collective of things,
I just moved out of my house into a new apartment. My previous landlord did not provide me a house key or mailbox key for the duration of the tenancy (which is why we moved) he would also hold onto the utilities and provide all of them every couple of months. Now he is holding my deposit. We never did a walk through at the time of move in. When we were moving out I asked him to come at 10 but he arrived sometime around 11 and instead of meeting me directly went through the garage door and walked through on his own. Then he started viewing the property as we were moving. I am trying to understand what my rights are, he told me the month before we were moving out he would allow us to exit the lease at anytime. There was a clause in the agreement that said if we end tenancy we owe 1 months rent, however, because he agreed to us leaving I don't feel that I should have to pay that.
Customer
Also the door handle on the front door had a bathroom handle, so you can turn the lock with a coin, the same door handles were throughout the house and on the basement and backdoor. We had tenants in the basement and so put furniture against the door to ensure no one would access the main part of the house. We had to enter through the garage which meant leaving the laundry room door unlocked. The problem is we know the previous basement tenant had the garage code plus the landlord and we are not sure who else had the garage password ***** we couldn't go out together as a family since October.
Customer
No he just said we can leave at anytime, he would be happy to let us go. I have 6 children so security is everything for me. This home was not and did not feel safe for us.
Customer
There was a clause in the agreement he made (not a BC tenancy agreement) that said I would have to pay $2700 if I exit the lease ahead of the term. But before we left he said the above which was the deciding factor of us proceeding with looking for a place.
Customer
Plus he is keeping the damage deposit of $1350. I have videos and pics of the condition of the house as we left it. I know for 6 kids it was cleaner than we got it they did not clean anything before we moved in there was damage to the walls and mold on the carpet where it meets the wall. I have witnesses to this, my parents helped us move in and my mom helped with the cleaning.
Customer
All of my rent was paid early/on time. He held the utility bills as well. On the move out date he said you owe me utilities I let him know I did not receive it. He said it doesn't matter you owe it. I even asked him to put it in my name or to apply for online billing. It made it difficult to budget. Then he tried to add the water bill which was never agreed upon in May. I told him I am not paying it because he paid it in January showing that it was not my initial responsibility. From what I have read so far, because we never did a walk through at the start of tenancy he loses his right to my damage deposit and same for the exit. We did not go through a check list or sign off on anything.
Customer
We moved in October 2019 and the first utility bills were given to me in January of 2020.
Customer
I also have all of our text conversations. That is the only written requests I have for all of our communications regarding bills, locks, etc.
Customer
I should add that in addition to his penalty clause he also had a clause that said if there was anything from BC tenancy that was not in the agreement that would outweigh what was in his agreement.
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Debra, Expert

If he agreed to let you out early then he is not entitled to any further rent. If he didn't agree then you would have gone to get an order from the Residential Tenancies Office and then would have been able to get the lease set aside on the basis that there was no security for you and your family.

So he is not correct.

He is not correct about the security deposit because he had to do a walk through when you moved in and again when you moved out and had to show you the damages.

So you can take him to the Residential Tenancies Branch for an order for the refund of the security deposit.

You will have to wait until they are fully re-opened.

Does that help?

Please feel free to post back with any follow-up questions you may have. If you don't have any then I hope I have earned a 5 star rating but if you don't feel that I have please don't hesitate to reply back and let me know what more I can do to assist you. Finally, please know that even after you rate me I will be here for you and you can ask follow-up questions if you think of them later on at no further charge of course.

Customer
That does help a great deal thank you. My last question is would I be entitled to any monetary reimbursement for not having a house key, security, mail box key and having to move?
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Debra, Expert

Yes you would but I am not so sure you can succeed given you didn't take the appropriate steps. You needed to take them to the Residential Tenancies Branch for an order requiring the landlord to give you these things and for a rent abatement.

You can certainly give it a try.

Customer
Okay, thank you Debra, I am happy with my deposit. The extra would definitely help with the financials of having to move etc. He was just a nightmare. I appreciate your assistance.
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Debra, Expert

You are very welcome.

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