Administrative law – Landlord and tenant – Leases – Remedies – Relief from forfeiture – Judicial review – Appeals – Compliance with legislation
Seignoret v. Bakonyi Holdings Ltd.,  B.C.J. No. 516, 2019 BCCA 105, British Columbia Court of Appeal, April 2, 2019, P.M. Willcock, G. Dickson and G.J. Fitch JJ.A.
In 2017, the landlord served the tenant with a notice to end tenancy under the Residential Tenancy Act, S.B.C. 2002, c. 78 (the “RTA”). The Residential Tenancy Branch upheld the notice to end tenancy and granted vacant possession.
On judicial review, the tenant sought to advance a claim for relief from forfeiture under the Law and Equity Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 253. The chambers judge held relief from forfeiture was not available.
On appeal, the issue before the Court of Appeal was whether a court may relieve against forfeiture of a residential lease under s. 24 of the Law and Equity Act after the landlord has terminated the lease for cause, obtained an order for possession, and the tenant has exhausted their remedies under the RTA. The Court stated that the answer to that question turned on whether the forfeiture (the termination of the residential lease) was properly characterized as contractual or statutory.
The Court of Appeal held relief from forfeiture under the Law and Equity Act does not apply to forfeiture under the RTA. The forfeiture is statutory. The legislature, by enacting the RTA, established an all-inclusive scheme, providing the only way in which residential leases may be terminated. The RTA establishes an administrative process and scheme whereby some consideration can be given to factors that ordinarily would be considered on an application for relief from forfeiture under the Law and Equity Act. Permitting a petition to be brought for relief from forfeiture would undermine the administrative system and (because relief from forfeiture can only be raised in the trial court) result in the Supreme Court becoming a court of first instance in respect of fundamental disputes between landlords and tenants.
The tenant’s appeal was dismissed.
This case was digested by Joel A. Morris, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Joel A. Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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