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Tenancy Problems - Moving In

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Q: Me and my husband recently went to rent a 2 bedroom and at the same time a 1 bedroom. We got approved for both the 2 and 1 bedroom. We want to keep the 1 bedroom but we were told now by the 2 bedroom manager that we are breaking the lease and we have to pay them 400 dollars. But they didnt even take the damage deposit money yet nor did we move any of our stuff into the apartment. Is it true that u can break a contract within 7 days because techinically we not breaking anything cause they didnt even take the damage deposit money so they are not loosing anything?
A: It sounds to me like your landlord is trying to charge you a penalty of $400 for breaking a lease. You might want to ask the landlord to show you which part of the lease authorizes the $400 charge, and where you signed showing you agreed to this amount in the first place. Then you may wish to point out to the landlord that penalty clauses in residential tenancy agreements aren't generally enforceable because the courts hold that 'the promisee should receive by way of damages only that sum which would compensate for his actual and proven loss.? Having pointed this out, you may wish to further ask the landlord where he has established this loss and what section of the Residential Tenancy Act of BC he is referring to in requesting it. For backup, you may want to direct the landlord to the RTO policy guideline on liquidated damages / penalty clauses which is found at http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/documents/GL04.pdf.
My experience is that when you pull out the rule book and actually look through it, and ask people to show you where they are taking the authority to act, a lot of these problems and requests just disappear.
My advice? - Don't get taken advantage of.


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