Residential Tenancy Branch knocks down Olympic Village resident's complaint

Tenant wanted rent refund due to bullying neighbour

The Olympic Village subsidized housing resident who complained about a bullying neighbour lost her bid for compensation at the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Pam Burge wanted her rent for a fifth floor suite at 80 Walter Hardwick Ave. refunded after claiming COHO Property Management failed to comply with the Residential Tenancy Act section that entitles tenants reasonable privacy and freedom from unreasonable disturbance.

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Dispute resolution officer K. Lam's Oct. 19 written decision dismissed Burge's complaint "for lack of sufficient evidence to show any negligence on the part of the landlord."

Burge submitted claims of repeated complaints that the neighbour bullied, harassed, threatened, assaulted and filed false accusations against her.

"The tenant states the landlord was notified numerous times over the Dec. 2011 to Sept. 2012 period of the threatening behaviour by this other party," said the decision. "The landlord disputes this stating that all of the tenants' issues were investigated and that both the landlord and police that were called in by the tenant were unable to determine who was at fault in these incidents."

The decision said the tenant bears the burden of proof on a balance of probabilities to show negligence and loss in value or use of a rental property. But Burge said her witness - friend and retired police officer Jens Linde - was denied the ability to testify at the hearing. Linde was visiting Burge on March 24 when he intervened to prevent the neighbour from pushing another man over the fifth floor railing and was, himself, allegedly assaulted.

"It was really an unpleasant experience, I felt I was on trial, I felt like I was the offender," Burge said.

Burge had originally hoped for a settlement as high as $15,000, but the decision said Burge wanted $7,000 for 10 months rent. Though her tenancy began April 7, 2011, problems with the neighbour commenced in December 2011. The neighbour was relocated elsewhere in the Olympic Village in September.

"It had the feeling almost that the outcome was already decided," Burge said. "It didn't surprise me in the least, I've said all along this is not something the RTB can deal with. It's something that belongs in court."

She scoffed at the arbitrator's claim that "her ability to smoke was more important than her personal safety in reference to the offer to move made by the landlord."

The stress of conflict, she said, contributed to her becoming a habitual cigarette smoker. She uses marijuana for relief from arthritis and fibromyalgia. She said she did not want to move because she was not the aggressor, did not want to pay moving expenses or agree to pay the Enerpro Energy Services bills that she says are illegal and unaffordable.

Burge believes the root of the problem was her public opposition to the controversial monthly Enerpro bills.

"There hasn't been one single visit by the police here since [he] left," Burge said. "There's no problem on the fifth floor, I haven't had a problem with any of my other neighbours ever."

COHO executive director Thom Armstrong declined an interview request.

"I would prefer to let the RTB ruling speak for itself," he said via email. "We will continue to respond diligently to Ms. Burge's questions and concerns as we would any other tenant."

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