SURREY (NEWS1130) – Renters in Metro Vancouver have long complained about slumlords and today the province says it’s fined one for the first time ever. Critics say it should have been done years ago.

Residential Tenancy Act legislation was changed in 2008 to allow fines to be handed to landlords if they do not follow orders from the Residential Tenancy Branch. Nearly four years later, the first is handed out. 

A landlord in Surrey will pay $115,000 for repeatedly ignoring calls for repairs and maintenance.  That includes a $5000 one time fine and $500 per day for the 220 days of inaction.

“It seems it’s taken the government an extended period of time to use this tool,” says NDP Housing Critic Shane Simpson. “I believe this probably shouldn’t have been the first instance when this was done.  There are other cases where it would have been warranted.”

Simpson adds it is important to get tough with fines but he wants the province to take it a step further.  “I think we should let British Columbians know who these landlords are who aren’t acting in a responsible way.” He says that could prevent prospective renters from falling victim.

Meanwhile, the province says these fines are levied in the most extreme cases and when the landlord refuses to respond to RTB reports.  Others can be dealt with through dispute resolution.

The Surrey landlord’s payment is due May 15, 2012. According to the Ministry responsible for housing, the Residential Tenancy Act allows for an agreement to be reached that permits a reduction or cancellation of the penalty if the landlord meets certain conditions.  That has yet to happen.

You can read the full decision in the case here: http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/documents/APDecisions/1001032012.pdf