Landlording Advice - Reclaiming Deposit

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Landlording Problems - Reclaiming Deposit

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Q: Hello,
My month to month tenancy ended July 1st 2008, however I left the suite on June 14th to move to Quebec. The suite was a 2nd floor of a house, with the owners / landlord living on the 1st floor.
The landlord sent her husband to check out the apartment the night before my flight. I was not able to dispose of all my items (the bed I was sleeping on) and do a proper cleaning, therefore he & I agreed to have a professional cleaner do the work in the next two weeks and move the furniture himself (with his son). He told me my deposit ($550.00) would be forwarded to my home address, and we both agreed to remove the amount needed for cleaning (estimated about $175 max).
A month and a bit after July 1st, I called the landlord who (until then we honestly did have a good relationship) told me I would not be seeing a penny due to her having done all the cleaning and "of course I'm pay(ing) myself top dollar".
I need help interpreting the Act here. My landlord did enter the suite with my permission, I was not staying there for the last 2 weeks of June. But, they may have decided to clean it themselves in order to rent it out early and get double rent.
Either way, they never contacted me regarding keeping the deposit.
I still have local 604 phone number, we have each other's email, my forwarding address, current and parent's phone numbers just in case.

a) how can I apply to get my deposit back in part, in whole, or technically maybe in double!
b) is there anything my landlord can do this late in the game to keep my damage deposit ?
c) If they gave the keys to the suite to someone I don't know, even without collecting any June rent, is this a violation and if so, is it worth pursuing & how can I prove it ?

Thank you , those are my questions but please, after reading feel free to answer only what you think will apply to someone who cannot fly back to BC to follow through on.
Much Appreciated.
A: A lot of landlords seem very agreeable to returning a security deposit until it comes time to dig down deep and pull out the cash. For some odd reason, some landlords get reluctant at this very moment, and choose to stuff the money back down inside the pocket. Tenants don't like it because they thought they had a deal. The Residential Tenancy Office sees this issue dozens of times per day, so they went so far as to put the rules down on paper. It is covered in section 38 of the legislation, the jist of which is that the landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days of the end date of the tenancy unless the tenant has agreed in writing that the landlord can keep any or all of it, or the landlord has applied to retain the security deposit in accordance with the Act, or unless an Arbitrator has ordered that any or all of the security deposit can be withheld. Section 38 of the Act reads: (1) Except as provided in subsection (3) or (4) (a), within 15 days after the later of (a) the date the tenancy ends, and (b) the date the landlord receives the tenant's forwarding address in writing, the landlord must do one of the following: (c) repay, as provided in subsection (8), any security deposit or pet damage deposit to the tenant with interest calculated in accordance with the regulations; (d) file an application for arbitration to make a claim against the security deposit or pet damage deposit. Section 38(2) continues: Subsection (1) does not apply if the tenant's right to the return of a security deposit or a pet damage deposit has been extinguished under section 24 (1) [tenant fails to participate in start of tenancy inspection] or 36 (1) [tenant fails to participate in end of tenancy inspection]. Section 38(3) says: A landlord may retain from a security deposit or a pet damage deposit an amount that (a) an arbitrator has previously ordered the tenant to pay to the landlord, and (b) at the end of the tenancy remains unpaid. Here is the part that jump starts many landlord's hearts - Section 38(6) says: “If a landlord does not comply with subsection (1), the landlord (a) may not make a claim against the security deposit or any pet damage deposit, and (b) must pay the tenant double the amount of the security deposit, pet damage deposit, or both, as applicable.” When challenged, landlords are often surprised to learn that they can't pay themselves 'top dollar' for their labor, learning that the legislation recognizes claims for debt and damage - not consulting and contractor's fees the landlord deems himself entitled to. If push comes to shove and you wind up in a full blown dispute resolution session, the officer will almost certainly deny him the 'top dollar' routine. Worth pursuing? Depends on your time, if you've decided to run the landlord around the block for a portion of your deposit (because he will win some of it given you've left him with some disposal work and clean-up), and it will depend on if either or both of you want to face off in your own 'O. J. Simpson trial', which is what some people with time on their hands choose to turn these things into. FYI - the village in Africa appreciates your $20 donation. On their behalf - Thanks!


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