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Couple's claim for $5,000 dismissed despite no-travel order

Pandemic-related ban prevented trip from Prince George to Sunshine Coast vacation spot
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B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal has rejected a Prince George couple's claim for a $5,000 refund from the owners of a vacation rental property on the Sunshine Coast despite a pandemic-related government order preventing them from travelling to the destination.

On May 26, 2021, they has booked a holiday stay at the spot, operated by Holiday Home Rentals International (HHRI) for May 30 to June 6, 2021.

The contract was signed the day after the provincial government had issued an order prohibiting non-essential travel in or out of B.C.'s three health regions.

"In short, it prohibited travel for vacation purposes from an area like Prince George to the respondents' property on the Sunshine Coast," CRT vice-chair Shelley Lopez said in a decision issued May 13.

When they signed the contract, they were under the impression the restrictions would be lifted by the day of their scheduled arrival, but that was not to be. Moreover, the contract with HHRI stated a refund would be provided only if the order prohibited travel from the Lower Mainland to the Sunshine Coast, which are in the same health region."So, while I accept the applicants could not travel from Prince George given the Order, that does not mean HHRI must provide a refund," Lopez said.That the couple was planning to travel from Prince George was not a term of the contract and there was no evidence HHRI knew Prince George would be their point of departure, even though they might have known Adam's home address, Lopez added.The couple further argued that HHRI re-rented their booked accommodation for at least part of their scheduled stay and, as evidence, pointed to a screenshot saying the property was not available.But Lopez, who bases her decisions on a balance of probabilities, found it did not mean the property had been rebooked and found that while HHRI tried to rent out the property once the couple had cancelled, they were unable to do so.

The couple had claimed they were owed more than $6,000 but had filed a claim for $5,000, the maximum small claim that can be awarded by the Civil Resolution Tribunal.