The attribution of value to tenant’s personal possessions at the Residential Tenancy Branch of British Columbia.

Authors: Bruna Maciel*, Simon Fraser University
Topics: Legal Geography, Urban Geography, Land Use
Keywords: legal governance, tenancy, belongings, social meanings, compensation for damage, valuation criteria, Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB)
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 37
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Michel Walzer (1983) proposed the concept of “spheres of justice” to illustrate how different sets of social goods - such as, landed wealth, capital, education- or even food, shelter, clothing, and other commodities of social life - are distributed according to different sets of ideologies and enforced by different political arrangements. However, goods have plural social meanings, so no single criterion for distribution, whether it is equality, merit, heritage, friendship, need, free exchange, will be able to respect a shared perception of what they goods and what they are for.In this vein, residential tenancy spaces can be studied as a realm of potential conflicts, where the plural meanings of social goods are practically inescapable. Many disputes concern the personal property of tenants, and the obligations and powers that landlords exercise in relation to them. For landlords, tenants’ belongings are likely valued according to their monetary value. However for tenants, the value of their personal property may not be reducible to cash-value. Based on those considerations, the paper seeks to explore the decision-making process of Resolution Officers from British Columbia Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), identifying in the disputes the kinds of conflicts between landlords and tenants concerning tenants’ personal possessions in the space of rented units. Research on past decisions from the Branch aims to identify how prerogatives of discretion are exercised by the arbitrators, especially when decisions are attributing value for compensating illegal interference in tenants’ belongings or denying a right of compensation using legal concepts of reasonableness as justification.

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