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'Overwhelming stench': Metro Vancouver renter says rat poo and pee made oven stink

When the oven heated up, an "overwhelming stench could be smelled."
A Vancouver rent situation went wrong when rodents gained entry to the unit causing a smelly predicament.

Rodents are some of the most common—although no-less problematic—pests that move into people's homes across the Lower Mainland. 

But the critters can cause more than health and safety concerns when they move into rental units.

The BC Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) sees a range of complaints from landlords and tenants regarding cleanliness and pest issues—but it may surprise you how complex these disputes can get.

In an August 2022 dispute, a Metro Vancouver renter and their landlord were not only disputing how much money was owed, but also who was at fault for starting the infestation issue.

The tenant said that rodents had entered the rental unit under the door and then made their way into the space between the oven and stovetop. Once they gained entry, the rodents defecated and urinated on some white insulation that surrounded the oven beneath the stovetop. When the oven heated up, an "overwhelming stench could be smelled."

According to the property manager, the inspector spotted an open window and stated that they could have gained entry through the window. However, this evidence was not available in a written statement.

The property owner asserted that the tenant was responsible for the infestation because they left a window open and therefore should therefore be responsible for cleaning the insulation.

Additionally, the landlord stated that they had a video of the tenant's cat walking around outside with a rodent in its mouth. While the renter didn't dispute this point, she noted that she would never allow her cat to enter the rental unit with a critter in tow.

Vancouver rent agreement went wrong: Tenant claims loss of oven-roasted meals

The tenant was claiming $16.78 per day for the loss of two-quarter chicken dinners for her and her daughter since she would regularly cook meals in the oven. She didn't claim breakfasts and lunches, since these meals could be prepared on the stove or in other ways. The landlord contested that the claim of $1778.68 was unreasonable since the stove was operational and the tenant only submitted one receipt for the chicken that she purchased.

The RTB stated that there was "undisputed" evidence that the rodents caused damage to the rental unit since "both parties provided consistent statements that the inspector confirmed the appearance of rodent feces on the insulation of the oven."

Additionally, the RTB accepted the tenant's position that the rat feces and urine caused a horrible stench when the oven was turned on. It also noted that the landlord should have anticipated that the tenant would open windows for ventilation, enjoyment of the unit, and to keep cool. The board also said that seeing the cat carrying a rodent and assuming that it brought it inside the unit is "speculative."

The board sided with the tenant but said they did not have enough evidence to support the claim for the full amount and could have also used other ways to prepare her food. She was granted half of the amount claimed, which was $889.34 plus the filing fee she originally paid of $100 for a total amount of $989.34.

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