January 16, 2009

Eviction Notice? Lost Deposit? The Law and Equity Act May Help

Sometimes tiny mistakes have huge and brutal consequences. For instance, a late rent cheque could mean an eviction notice. A missed deadline might mean a lost deposit, because you didn't read the fine print in a contract.

Under some circumstances, you may be able to apply to the court for "relief against penalities and forfeiture" under s.24 of the Law and Equity Act. Section 24 says:
"The court may relieve against all penalities and forfeitures, and in
granting the relief may impose any terms as to costs, expenses, damages, compensations and all other matters that the court thinks fit."

An order under section 24 is discretionary, which means that a judge does not have to help you. They must decide whether making the order is appropriate and fair. In deciding, judges will usually consider whether the effect of the penalty or forfeiture on the buyer (or tenant) is disproportionate to the vendor's (or landlord's) loss. They will also consider whether the severity of the penalty is unconscionable in the circumstances.

Here are some other things to know about section 24:

  1. Section 24 is like a "get out of jail free card" in that it will usually be only granted one time. For example, if you get relief from eviction after failing to pay rent on time, it is very unlikely that the court will give you further relief if you later get another eviction notice.

  2. Section 24 does not apply to a penalty or forfeiture in a statute, for instance the Criminal Code or the Motor Vehicle Act, unless those statutes specifically provide for relief.

  3. Section 24 mainly applies to penalties or forfeitures in contracts, like the loss of deposits or forfeiture of leases.

  4. The court may decide to give partial relief (e.g. giving back half of a lost deposit) or make conditions for the relief (e.g. removing the eviction notice but requiring rent arrears to be paid by a certain date ).

Section 24 is broad and has been used in many everyday circumstances, including:

For more information about how to begin a court application to get relief under section 24 of the Law and Equity Act, check out the B.C. Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre either online or at the office located at 800 Smithe Street in Vancouver.

[Reference: Annotated British Columbia Law and Equity Act.]

1 comment:

  1. The Eviction Process starts with a proper Notice of Eviction and may involve court appearances and a trial. An Order of Eviction may be issued and a court officer or someone from the sheriff' office may remove the tenant and tenant' personal items from the rental property. However, there are many steps in the eviction process before the tenant is physically removed. Most managers and tenants reach a settlement or agreement long before the matter moves that far.


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