The roof leaks, and the insurance of the tenants asks for the reimbursement of the sums paid

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The roof leaks, and the insurance of the tenants asks for the reimbursement of the sums paid

In a decision rendered on May 28, 2021, the Administrative Housing Tribunal ordered the landlord to reimburse the tenants’ insurance company the sum of $975.03.

In this case, the tenants suffered losses to some of their household items as a result of water damage that occurred through infiltration from the roof.

The insurance company claimed from the landlord, by being subrogated to the rights of the tenants, the sum of $1867.20 that had been paid to the tenants to compensate them for the loss of two mattresses. This amount was reduced at the hearing by diminishing the value claimed to $933.60, considering that the age of the mattresses represented a depreciation factor of 50%.

The clothes that were stored in the closet had also been wet and soiled by the passage of water through the wall. So the insurance company mandated a specialized cleaning firm to clean the clothes and thus claims the sum of $1655.60.

The insurance company also claims the sum of $697.92 paid for cleaning services provided by Steamatic. Finally, the insurance company also claims two nights of hotel accommodation for the tenants for the sum of $483.13 and a claim of $94 for the cost of food.

The Tribunal refers to Sections 1854 and 1864 of the Civil Code of Québec, which provide as follows:

“1854. The lessor is bound to deliver the leased property to the lessee in a good state of repair in all respects and to provide him with peaceable enjoyment of the property throughout the term of the lease.
He is also bound to warrant the lessee that the property may be used for the purpose for which it was leased and to maintain the property for that purpose throughout the term of the lease.”  

“1864. The lessor is bound, during the term of the lease, to make all necessary repairs to the leased property other than minor maintenance repairs, which are assumed by the lessee unless they result from the age of the property or superior force.”  

The owner initially raised as a defense that the rain was force majeure. This argument was rejected however. Rather, the Administrative Housing Tribunal decided that the weather conditions at the time of the water damage were not extraordinary and were rather within the predictable and normal parameters.

The Tribunal notes that even if the water damage does not result from a failure by the owner to maintain his building, the latter is still liable for damages because of the legal and contractual obligations towards his tenants.

The Tribunal then analyzes an objection by which the landlord maintains that he had an agreement with his tenants and that this agreement would be enforceable against the insurer.
The Tribunal rejects this claim, in particular, on the ground that the insurer did not consent to an agreement.

On analysis of the evidence, the Tribunal finds that no sufficient evidence was submitted to it that would have allowed it to conclude that the mattresses were a total loss.

The Tribunal finds that the testimony submitted was vague and lacked precision. The Tribunal also notes that it did not receive any evidence of the purchase of the mattresses discarded by the tenants. In the claim for the costs of cleaning the clothing, the Tribunal finds that the evidence does not support its conclusion that the garments were damaged by water, nor that it would have been impossible to clean them using a regular washing machine. Once again, the evidence submitted proved to be imprecise and inconclusive.

The Tribunal notes that it is not sufficient to produce an invoice attesting to the expense to justify a claim.

The claim related to the nights spent at the hotel is granted. The Tribunal considers that this is a solution to address an essential need as a matter of urgency. As such, living expenses are also granted.

The Tribunal also awarded the claim for the services offered by Steamatic, considering that it was an effort to minimize the damage caused to the mattresses and awarded therefore the sum of $697.90.

The Tribunal awards a sum of $23 in accordance with the Regulation respecting the rates of fees payable for the Administrative Housing Tribunal, for the notice of the request that was given by the bailiff.

Interestingly, the Tribunal dismissed the request to sentence the owner to pay additional compensation. The Court considers that the insurer waited almost three years to file his appeal and that it is solely responsible for the existence of this delay and that it must bear the consequences.

In the lessons to be drawn from this decision, it must be concluded that an agreement with the tenants cannot be reached without the consent of their insurer, in the context of a claim file.

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