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DURING A TENANCY

A tenancy begins when someone agrees to pay rent to occupy a property or unit owned by a landlord. Under the law, both tenants and landlords have specific rights and responsibilities in a tenancy. Make sure you’re renting the right way – access information and resources that will help you have a successful tenancy.

Tenancies are most successful when landlords and tenants fully understand their rights and responsibilities.This helps to prevent disputes and fosters a healthy landlord and tenant relationship.

Paying Rent

Rent must be paid in full and on time – by midnight on the day it’s due. If you’re mailing your payment, be sure it’s sent in time to be delivered by the due date.

A landlord and tenant agree on the amount of rent and when it’s due at the start of a tenancy. The tenancy agreement must be clear about what’s included in the rent. It can also limit the number of occupants in the unit or indicate how much additional rent is required if more people move in – these terms must be reasonable.

Forms of Payment

The tenancy agreement can specify the forms in which rent can be paid (cash, cheque, electronic transfer, etc.). For example, post-dated cheques can be requested as long as it’s a term included in the agreement and when the tenant moves out, any remaining cheques are returned.

Receipts must be provided for rent paid in cash. This proves that the rent was paid – both landlords and tenants should keep their copy of rent receipts in a safe place.

Unpaid Rent or Utilities

A landlord can give a 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy if rent or utilities are not paid by midnight on the due date. This notice may be served to a tenant:

  • The day after rent is due
  • 30 days after giving a written demand for a utility payment

The notice is cancelled and the tenancy can continue if the tenant pays all the rent and utilities owing within five days of receiving the notice.

Even if the rent isn’t paid on time, a landlord must not remove or limit access to any of the tenant’s personal property. The landlord can only do this if:

  • The court provides written permission
  • The landlord has followed the required procedure for abandoned property

Co-tenants

Several tenants included on the same tenancy agreement are called co-tenants. If the full amount of rent isn’t paid on time, the landlord can serve a notice to end tenancy, which applies to each person named on that tenancy agreement, or apply for dispute resolution against any or all of them for unpaid rent.

Withholding Rent

A tenant must pay all of the rent when it’s due. However, there are five situations when a tenant may deduct money from the rent:

  1. The tenant has an arbitrator’s decision allowing the deduction
  2. The landlord illegally increases the rent
  3. The landlord has overcharged for a security or pet damage deposit
  4. The landlord refuses the tenant’s written request for reimbursement of emergency repairs
  5. The tenant has the landlord’s written permission allowing a rent reduction

Tenants Note: Withholding rent for any other reason or without written permission from an arbitrator or the landlord may result in the landlord serving a 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy (PDF). Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch if you’re considering withholding rent.

How Do I Pay Rent if my Landlord Dies?

If your landlord dies, the executor or administrator of their estate becomes the new landlord and is responsible for any rights and obligations under the original tenancy agreement. The executor or administrator may request a change to the way rental payments are made. Those requests should be made in writing.

If it is not clear who the executor or administrator of the estate is, and you usually pay rent directly to the landlord, you should mail cheques or money orders to the address on the tenancy agreement for the landlord. If the envelope is returned as undeliverable, you should keep the returned mail as evidence that payment was attempted. Even if the cheques aren’t immediately cashed, you should make sure that there is enough money in your account to cover the rent.

If you usually pay rent with cash, you should mail payment as a cheque or money order directly to the address on the tenancy agreement for the landlord, as above.

If you pay rent by post-dated cheque, it is a good idea to write a letter to the address on the tenancy agreement for the landlord telling the estate that you pay rent by post-dated cheques and informing them of how far in advance you have made payments. If the executor or administrator of the estate is unable to find the post-dated cheques, they may request replacement cheques.

If you pay rent by direct bank transfer, you should continue doing this unless the executor or administrator of the estate requests a new method of payment in writing.

If you are unsure about how to pay rent following the death of your landlord, contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information.

Rent Increases

Landlords can only increase the rent once a year by an amount permitted by law or an additional amount approved in advance by an arbitrator – they need to use the right form and give the tenant three full months’ notice of the rent increase.

The maximum allowable rent increase changes each year. The limits for residential tenancies and manufactured home park tenancies are different.

  • For residential tenancies, the standard allowable rent increase for 2015 is 2.5%
  • For manufactured home park tenancies, the standard allowable rent increase for 2015 is 2.5% plus a proportional amount for the change in local government levies and regulated utility fees
Subsidized housing, where rent is related to the tenant’s income, is not subject to rent increase laws. In these cases, the Residential Tenancy Branch does not have the authority to make decisions on rent increases. Tenants who have questions about rent increases for subsidized housing should discuss it with the housing provider.

The rent increase cannot be more than the amount calculated using the allowable increase percentage. This means a landlord can’t round up when calculating the allowable increase. For example, if the base rent is $700 and the maximum allowable increase is $17.50 the landlord can issue a Notice of Rent Increase for a new rent of up to $717.50, but not $718.

Find out what’s involved with the different types of rent increases:

Maximum Allowable Rent Increases

The following table outlines the maximum allowable rent increases for the past few years:

Year Maximum Allowable Rent Increase
2014 2.2%
2013 3.8%
2012 4.3%
2011 2.3%
2010 3.2%
2009 3.7%
2008 3.7%
2007 4.0%
2006 4.0%
2005 3.8%
2004 4.6%

Landlords may not retroactively apply a rent increase or catch up on rent increases if they did not issue a rent increase in a previous year.

Unlawful Rent Increase

A tenant does not have to pay an increase that is higher than the amount allowed by law. Instead, the tenant can give the landlord documents showing the allowable amount or apply for dispute resolution asking for an order that the landlord comply with the law, as long as the increase wasn’t granted through dispute resolution.

The tenant may deduct from future rent any overpayment – only if the tenant has already paid an increase higher than the legal amount. The tenant should attach a note to the rent to explain the reason for not paying the amount that the landlord has asked for.

Repairs and Maintenance

Landlords and tenants share responsibility for maintaining the rental property. Failing to fulfill responsibilities could mean that one party has to reimburse the other for repair or maintenance expenses.

Landlords must provide rental units that:

  • Meet health and safety standards required by law
  • Have all of the services and facilities outlined in the tenancy agreement
  • Are in good repair

Tenants are responsible for repairing damage caused by anyone living in or visiting the unit – including pets. Tenants must also maintain a reasonable standard of health and cleanliness in the unit and surrounding common areas like hallways, yards or laundry facilities. Tenants are not responsible for reasonable wear and tear from normal usage over time.

Landlords and tenants who rent both a manufactured home and a manufactured home site under a residential tenancy agreement also have these responsibilities.

Inspect the Rental Unit

At the beginning of a tenancy, a landlord and tenant must inspect (“walk through”) the rental unit together and complete a Condition Inspection Report (PDF, 1.6MB). All damages and concerns should be noted in the report – it’s a good idea to include photos, if possible. The report, along with any photos, is an official record of any damage in the unit before the tenant moved in – it can be submitted as evidence if there’s ever a dispute about the rental unit’s condition.

Emergency Repairs

Emergency repairs are necessary if health and safety or the building and property are at risk. This includes situations like:

  • Major leaks in pipes or roof
  • Damaged plumbing fixtures
  • Problems with the primary heating system
  • A malfunctioning electrical system
  • Damaged or defective locks that make the unit insecure

Here are some examples that are not considered emergencies:

  • A burned out stove element
  • A plugged sink, tub or shower
  • Mold around a window
  • Changing locks because keys are lost

Landlords must provide an emergency contact name and phone number – either in writing to each tenant or posted in a visible common area.

Tenants must contact the landlord or the designated contact person to report the emergency issue and have it repaired.

If there’s no response after two attempts and a reasonable amount of time has passed, the tenant may arrange to have the repairs done at a reasonable cost. While the repairs are underway, a landlord may decide to:

  • Take over the repairs and pay for work done up to that point
  • Allow the repairs to continue and reimburse the tenant for the full cost

Landlords are required to reimburse tenants for emergency repairs. Tenants must submit receipts to their landlord, along with a written summary of what happened in order to receive payment. If this procedure is followed and the landlord does not cover the expenses, tenants can deduct the repair costs from the rent.

In the event that a tenant deducts repair costs from the rent and the landlord believes the costs were too high, the repairs were unnecessary or the tenant caused the problem that needed to be repaired, the landlord can either:

Regular Repairs

Other regular or minor repairs can inconvenience tenants and may leave them feeling like the rental has lost value. The landlord is generally responsible for these repairs if the damage was not caused by the tenant, their pets or guests.

Tenants need to request repairs in writing and keep a copy for themselves. The document should clearly describe the problem and must allow the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix it.

If the landlord doesn’t make the repairs, the tenant may apply for dispute resolution to request an order the repairs to be made, for money to cover the inconvenience, or both. A tenant cannot make the repairs themselves and charge the landlord for the costs unless they have the landlord’s written agreement.

Standards of MaintenanceThe Residential Tenancy Act requires landlords maintain their rental properties in a state that is suitable for occupancy – they must meet housing, safety and building standards required by law. However the Act does not outline specific requirements for building maintenance standards, such as what the correct temperature is for heating a building.Local governments have the authority to establish and enforce standards of maintenance bylaws for buildings. Tenants may contact their local government to have municipal inspectors investigate their property to see if any conditions violate health or safety requirements.

Changes to Services or Facilities

Landlords must meet specific requirements when it comes to providing essential or non-essential services or access to facilities. For example, they must provide things like heat, water and electricity.

Tenants can dispute:

  • A landlord’s notice terminating or restricting a service or facility
  • The amount of rent reduction
  • Whether a service or facility is essential or non-essential

Contact us if you’re uncertain about who’s responsible for a repair or whether the landlord can stop providing a service or facility.

Responsibilities in Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

In mobile home parks, the owner of a manufactured home is considered the tenant. They are responsible for:

  • All repairs, unless it can be proven that the landlord was responsible for any damage
  • Maintaining a reasonable standard of health and cleanliness throughout the site and common areas

The landlord is responsible for maintaining any services or facilities within the park – for example, maintenance of common areas, roadways and septic systems.

A condition inspection (i.e. doing a “walk through”) is not required for manufactured home park tenancies.

Landlord’s Access

Landlords have rights to access residential rental units in some situations, but there are important restrictions on those rights. A landlord may enter:

  • Any common areas that are shared with others like hallways, courtyards and laundry facilities – no notice is required
  • The rental unit once per month to inspect the condition of the property – proper notice to tenants is required
  • To show the property to prospective buyers – proper notice to tenants is required

The tenant doesn’t need to be present for the landlord to enter as long as proper notice was provided.

Proper notice means a tenant is given written notice of the date,time and purpose for entering the property. By law, notice must be delivered in-person or considered by law to have been given to the tenant at least 24 hours before the landlord enters the unit.

The time scheduled for entry must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless another time is agreed upon by the landlord and tenant.

The purpose for entering a rental unit must be reasonable – a landlord may enter a tenant’s rental unit only when:

  • There’s an emergency and entry is necessary to protect life or property
  • The tenant is at home and agrees to let the landlord in
  • The tenant agreed, not more than 30 days before, to let the landlord enter
  • The tenant was given written notice outlining the date, time (between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.) and purpose – at least 24 hours before and not more than 30 days before
  • The tenant has abandoned the rental unit
  • The tenant lives in a hotel and someone comes in to clean the room
  • The landlord has an arbitrator’s order or court order to enter the rental unit

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

Landlords have limited rights to access sites in manufactured home parks, sometimes called mobile home parks. A landlord may enter the tenant’s site only under the following circumstances:

  • To collect rent or to give / serve a document
  • There is an emergency and entry is necessary to protect life or property
  • The tenant is at home and agrees to let the landlord enter the site
  • The tenant agreed, not more than 30 days before, to let the landlord enter the site for a certain reason
  • The tenant has abandoned the site
  • The landlord has an arbitrator’s order or court order to enter the site
  • The tenant was given written notice outlining the date, time (between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.) and purpose – at least 24 hours before and not more than 30 days before
  • Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act

Unlawful Access

The landlord must always follow the proper process for lawful entry into a tenant’s home or manufactured home site. If a tenant thinks the landlord has entered illegally, they should ask them to follow the required process for legal entry. A tenant can also apply for dispute resolution asking for an order that:

  • Requires the landlord to comply with the law
  • Allows the tenant to change the locks and keep the only keys – returning them to the landlord upon moving out

In the case of a manufactured home site tenancy, an arbitrator can suspend or set conditions on a landlord’s right to enter the site.

Possession of the Unit

Possession in residential tenancies refers to the right of a landlord or a tenant to use and enjoy the property.

A tenancy agreement protects the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants – if either party doesn’t respect the rights of the other, they may lose some of their rights. Dispute resolution may be required if either party doesn’t meet their responsibilities or negatively affects the rights of the other.

Tenant’s Rights

Possession for tenants means the right to exclusive, or sole possession and quiet enjoyment – reasonable privacy and freedom from unreasonable disturbance or significant interference with their use of the rental property. The landlord can’t restrict the tenant’s quiet enjoyment – they must:

  • Provide all essential services
  • Keep the rental unit and all non-essential services / facilities in a state of good repair
  • Quickly deal with problems and noise issues that interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment
  • At the tenant’s request, change the locks at the beginning of tenancy (or provide new keys to the tenant if the locks must be changed during the tenancy)
  • Not enter the areas of the property that the agreement says are for the exclusive use of the tenant, except under certain conditions

Landlord’s Rights

A landlord does not require notice to enter any common areas that are shared with others tenants like hallways, courtyards and laundry facilities. However, proper notice is required if a landlord wants to enter a rental unit.

Locks

The landlord must give each tenant a key to the rental unit (and building, if applicable) at no cost. The landlord should keep a copy of all keys for emergency access.

The landlord must change the rental unit locks or other access system if a tenant makes the request at the beginning of a new tenancy and if the locks weren’t changed at the end of the last tenancy. The landlord must pay for these costs.

A tenant can’t change locks on their rental unit without the landlord’s written permission. If there’s a problem, tenants can use the dispute resolution process through the Residential Tenancy Branch to get an order to change the locks.

Tenants should note that if they change the locks without permission:

  1. If they’re not home during an emergency, emergency personnel or the landlord may remove the door to access the unit making the tenant responsible for any related repairs or costs needed to put the door back in place.
  2. The landlord can give written notice requiring the tenant to change the locks back within a specific, but reasonable, period of time. In some cases, the tenant may just need to give the landlord keys to the new locks – this only works if the lock isn’t keyed to a master key. If the tenant doesn’t do so, the landlord can apply for dispute resolution.

Enforcing Possession

The landlord must serve a proper notice to end a tenancy if there’s cause for doing so – like not paying rent on time or causing damage or interference with the landlord’s rights. If the notice is not disputed, the landlord must follow the legal process to have the tenant removed from the property. If not, the process may have to be restarted and the tenant can seek compensation.

A tenant can follow the dispute resolution process to request an Order of Possession if the landlord locks them out, refuses to give them the keys to the property, or otherwise prevents their lawful access.

Quiet Enjoyment

As part of the tenancy agreement, tenants have a right to peace, quiet and privacy in their homes – a right that comes from the common law principle of quiet enjoyment. That means every tenant has the right to:

  • Reasonable privacy
  • Freedom from unreasonable disturbance
  • Exclusive possession of the rental unit, subject only to the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit in accordance with the laws
  • Use of common areas (like hallways, yards or laundry facilities) for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference

Quiet enjoyment may also include the tenant’s right to have guests, cook foods of their choice, play music at a reasonable level during acceptable hours, practice their religion, and have the use of all the services and facilities described in the tenancy agreement, maintained in good repair.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

A landlord must provide quiet enjoyment to all tenants. Upon getting a disturbance complaint from a tenant, the landlord must take steps to fix the problem.

For example, a landlord may need to speak to a tenant about noise if it bothers neighbouring tenants. In this type of a situation, the landlord should:

  • Talk to the disruptive tenant(s) about the problem
  • Let the tenant who complained know what’s being done to address the issue
  • Follow up with the disruptive tenant in writing (e.g. a “breach letter”) to explain:
    • The details of the problem
    • The reasonable amount of time allotted to resolve the problem
    • What may happen if the tenant doesn’t fix the problem (e.g. serve notice to end the tenancy)

Tenant’s Responsibilities

Tenants must make sure they, their guests and their pets don’t unreasonably disturb other occupants. If there are disturbances like unreasonable noise, excessive second-hand smoke or harassment from a neighbouring tenant of the same landlord, the tenant should speak to the landlord about the issue.

If tenants are unreasonably disturbed and the landlord doesn’t take action, tenants may apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for dispute resolution.

Changes to the Agreement

Once a tenancy has begun, terms of the tenancy agreement can only be changed or added with the written agreement of both the landlord and tenant. Removing standard terms is not an option– they’re included in every tenancy agreement, whether they’re in writing or not.

Get it in Writing

Any changes must be in writing and both parties should have copies of the changed agreement.

Landlords do not need a tenant’s consent to make changes in an agreement for:

  • Rent increases in accordance with the law
  • Withdrawal of, or a restriction on, a non-essential service or facility in accordance with the law
  • Changes permitted by an arbitrator’s order

Sublet and Assignment

With the landlord’s permission, sometimes tenants get someone else to complete all or part of the term of their tenancy – this is called a sublet or assignment of tenancy.

Roommates

A landlord may include restrictions in a tenancy agreement about additional occupants as long as these terms aren’t discriminatory or clearly unfair.

A landlord can’t charge fees for guests.

Under an existing tenancy agreement, the landlord can only increase the rent in response to additional occupants if the agreement includes a term allowing the rent to vary by a stated amount based on the number of occupants or the parties all agree to sign a new tenancy agreement.

Landlords and tenants should discuss the addition of roommates to the tenancy agreement so they are clear about the terms of the new arrangement.

Pets

If a tenancy agreement says pets aren’t allowed and a landlord later agrees to allow a pet, the landlord and tenant should negotiate the pet clause together and record it in the agreement.

A landlord can restrict the size, kind and number of pets and can make other reasonable pet-related rules that the tenant must follow.

Rent Increases

A landlord can increase the rent if 12 months have passed since either the tenancy started or the last rental increase. There are limits on annual rent increases.

At least three months in advance, the landlord must serve notice of the rent increase using the appropriate documentation.:

Manufactured Home Park Rules

Some manufactured home parks have park committees that develop, change and pass rules for the operation of a manufactured home park. If the park committee can’t agree on new or changed rules, the tenants of the park may be asked to vote on new or changed rules.

If there is no park committee, the landlord can establish park rules that must be given in writing to each tenant. The landlord or the park committee must give tenants two weeks’ written notice of any change in the park rules.

Essential Services and Facilities

A landlord must provide and maintain services that are essential to the health and safety of the tenant or are necessary to make the rental unit livable – heat, water and electricity, for example. Tenants can be required to pay for these services in the tenancy agreement, but the landlord is responsible for making sure they’re available.

Non-Essential Services or Facilities

Services or facilities that aren’t necessary to make the rental unit liveable are considered non-essential. For example, a landlord can stop providing a non-essential service or facility, like cable, if:

30-days’ notice is provided: Tenants must be notified about the change in service or facility using the Notice Terminating or Restricting a Service or Facility form (PDF, 1.7MB).

The rent is reduced: Landlords must reduce the rent by an amount equal to the cost of getting a reasonably similar service or facility. If not, the termination or restriction could be considered a hidden rent increase. For example, if a landlord discontinued basic cable services and only offered a rent reduction of $15 per month while the cost for tenants to obtain basic cable is $40 per month.

It’s not a material term: Even if a service or facility isn’t essential, providing it may still be considered a material term of the tenancy agreement – a term considered so important that the smallest breach of it gives the other party the right to end the agreement. If the landlord doesn’t correct a breach of a material term, the tenant can end the tenancy and apply for dispute resolution claiming compensation from the landlord.

Pets

During a tenancy, the tenant must follow the rules set out in the tenancy agreement about pets. A landlord can restrict the size, kind and number of pets and can make other reasonable pet-related rules that the tenant must follow.

Tenants must first check their tenancy agreement before getting a pet. If pets are allowed, the landlord will need to schedule a unit inspection. If pets are not allowed, the landlord and the tenant must decide whether allowing pets can be negotiated.

Changing a Tenancy Agreement

Before getting a pet, tenants need to decide with their landlord whether the pet clause of their tenancy agreement needs to be negotiated or changed. Any changes made must be recorded in the agreement – either in a separate written agreement attached to the original or a handwritten note with both parties’ initials on the original tenancy agreement.

If a tenant can prove the landlord verbally agreed to the pet, the landlord may not be able to enforce restrictions on pets or claim that the tenant has breached the terms restricting pets. To start enforcing the pet restrictions, the landlord should give notice that the terms will be enforced and provide a reasonable period for the tenant to comply.

Getting a New Pet Without Written Permission

If the tenancy agreement says that pets aren’t allowed and the tenant gets a pet, two things could happen:

  1. The landlord may give the tenant a “breach letter” that explains how the agreement has been broken, how much time is allowed to remove the pet and what will happen if the pet is not removed (e.g. eviction)
  2. The landlord and tenant may agree to change this term and record it in the agreement

Even if a tenant is allowed to get a pet, the tenancy agreement can include restrictions on the size, kind, and number of pets allowed.

Basically, the outcome in this type of situation depends on whether the pet restriction in the tenancy agreement is either a:

  • Material term: A term considered so important that the smallest breach of it gives the other party the right to end the agreement
  • Ordinary term: A term that’s not as important, but it must still be followed

If an ordinary term of a tenancy agreement says a tenant can’t have pets, the landlord can apply for dispute resolution and ask for an order that the tenant comply with the tenancy agreement. If the tenant fails to comply with the order, the landlord can serve a notice to end the tenancy.

Pet Damage Deposits

A landlord may ask for a pet damage deposit during a residential tenancy if a tenant gets a pet for the first time with their permission – pet damage deposits are not required for manufactured home park tenancies.

The landlord and tenant should inspect the condition of the rental unit before the pet damage deposit is paid and the tenant gets a new pet. During the inspection, both parties should complete a Condition Inspection Report (PDF, 1.6MB). The report may be submitted as evidence if there is ever a dispute about the rental unit’s condition.

Get more information about:

Sublet and Assignment

Written permission from the landlord is required to sublet a rental unit or assign a tenancy agreement.

Sublet

When the original tenant allows someone (the sub-tenant) to live in their rental unit and pay the rent for all or part of the term of the tenancy agreement.

In this situation, a new tenancy agreement (a sublease), must be signed by both the original tenant and the sub-tenant. The original tenant then becomes the sub-tenant’s landlord – both this relationship and the one with the original landlord involve enforceable rights and responsibilities. The sub-tenant only has the same rights and obligations outlined in the original tenancy agreement – the agreement with the sub-tenant cannot contradict the original tenancy agreement.

Assignment

When the original tenant finds someone to take over the tenancy agreement – usually to get out of a fixed-term tenancy early or when transferring ownership of a manufactured home. In these cases, the new tenant assumes all of the rights and responsibilities under the original tenancy agreement – unless the landlord and new tenant agree to new terms or a sign a new agreement.

Rules

A tenant can only sublet or assign a tenancy if:

  • The tenant has the landlord’s written agreement or, in a manufactured home park tenancy, is considered to have obtained the landlord’s consent; or
  • The tenant has an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) allowing the sublease or assignment; and
  • The tenancy agreement doesn’t prohibit subletting or assignment of the rental unit (subsidized housing providers usually don’t allow subletting or assignment).

Landlord’s Permission

A tenant must have their landlord’s written permission before subletting or assigning their tenancy. A landlord can’t unreasonably refuse a sublet or assignment of a fixed-term tenancy for a period of six months or more.

If the landlord reasonably believes that the person won’t be able to follow the terms of the tenancy agreement or manufactured home park rules, the landlord can refuse the request for an assignment or sublease. Tenants can apply for dispute resolution if they believe their landlord has been unreasonable in refusing to allow a sublet or assignment.

For assignments, a landlord can collect information and perform a credit check on a proposed tenant and can refuse to allow the assignment if they aren’t satisfied that the proposed tenant will be able or likely to pay rent. The fees associated with confirming a proposed tenant’s suitability cannot be passed on to the original tenant.

If a tenant sublets or assigns their tenancy without the landlord’s written permission, the landlord may serve notice to end the tenancy – which means the tenancy would also end for the sub-tenant, unless they’re able to negotiate a new tenancy agreement with the landlord.

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

In manufactured home parks or mobile home parks, a request to sublet or assign the tenancy usually happens when the manufactured home owner sells the home.

Before requesting the landlord’s permission to allow the sublease or assignment of a manufactured home park tenancy, the tenant must provide the proposed buyer or sub-tenant with written copies of the park’s rules and any relevant parts of the tenancy agreement.

A tenant must give their request in writing to the landlord. The landlord has 10 days to respond.

How a request is served affects when the landlord is considered to have received it. For example, handing the request directly to the landlord on March 1st means the landlord has until March 11th to respond. Posting on the door or mailing it to the landlord means a longer wait.

If the landlord hasn’t responded to a request to sublet or assign a manufactured home park tenancy within 10 days after receiving it, the tenant may go ahead with the sublet or assignment unless the landlord and home owner otherwise agree.

Tenant Death or Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy or death of a tenant affects the tenancy. When someone is named as the executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a bankruptcy, the law assigns the rights and responsibilities of the tenancy to that person – they may choose to either continue the tenancy or give notice to end it.

Where a tenancy has been assigned in this way, the landlord’s consent isn’t needed. However, it’s always good for the executor or administrator to inform the landlord of their involvement and keep the lines of communication open.

Selling a Tenanted Property

When a landlord plans to sell a rental property, the tenancy continues. The landlord cannot end a tenancy because they want to sell a rental unit.

Showing the Property

The tenant has a legal right to peace and quiet while the tenancy continues. The landlord or their agent must provide written notice to the tenant or have their permission to enter and show the unit to prospective buyers. The notice must provide the:

  • Reason for entering the rental unit
  • Date and time of entry – which must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless the tenant agrees to another time

Ideally, a tenant and landlord can agree in writing on a schedule for viewing times. If not, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours written notice each time before showing the unit.

When the landlord has given proper notice, they can show the rental unit even if the tenant isn’t home. A landlord can enter common areas of the property at any time without giving the tenant notice.

A tenant may refuse entry that’s unreasonable or unlawful.

Uncooperative Tenants

If a tenant unreasonably refuses access to show the unit or provides misleading or inaccurate information to prospective buyers, the landlord could:

A tenant can choose to dispute a notice to end the tenancy by applying to the Residential Tenancy Branch for dispute resolution within the allotted dispute period of time. A tenant who doesn’t dispute a notice must move out by the effective date of the notice. The landlord may apply to for dispute resolution to request possession of the unit once the dispute period has passed.

When a Tenanted Property Has Been Sold

Once a property is sold, the buyer becomes the new landlord and the tenancy continues under the same terms. The buyer and the tenants don’t need to sign a new tenancy agreement, but may do so if they both agree.

The buyer must serve notice to end the tenancy in good faith if they plan to occupy the unit or use it for other purposes – the tenant has 15 days to dispute that notice.

Landlord’s Use of Property

There are two ways a tenancy can be ended if, in good faith, the buyer plans to occupy the unit or use the property for another purpose:

  1. The buyer submits a written request to the seller to end the tenancy before taking possession of the property (service of notice cannot be a condition of sale). Then the seller (or existing landlord) gives the tenant a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy for Landlord’s Use of Property
  2. Once the buyer takes possession of the property, they can serve a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy for Landlord’s Use of Property

Unless a landlord (seller or buyer) serves a proper notice to end tenancy, the tenancy continues under the terms of the original tenancy agreement.

Occupy the unit: Once they take possession, a buyer can choose to live in the unit themselves, or have a close family member live there. That would mean the father, mother or child of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse – it doesn’t include the brother or sister of the landlord or the brother or sister of the landlord’s spouse. If a family corporation owns the rental unit, then a close family member would also include an individual who owns, or whose close family member owns, all the voting shares.

Use the unit for another purpose: The buyer can serve the tenant a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy after the title of the property has been transferred and all required permits and approvals are in place when the buyer intends to:

  • Demolish the rental unit or do major repairs or renovations that require the building or rental unit be empty
  • Convert the rental unit to a strata property unit, a non-profit co-operative or society, or a not-for-profit housing co-operative under the Cooperative Association Act
  • Convert the rental unit to non-residential use, such as a shop
  • Convert the rental unit into a caretaker’s unit
The Landlord Has Cause

After a landlord has served a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy, the tenant’s responsibilities under the agreement continue until the tenancy ends, which means:

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

Landlords who plan to sell, convert or redevelop their manufactured home park may only serve a notice to end tenancy for landlord’s use of property when they:

Compensation

When serving a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy, the landlord must compensate the tenant with an amount equal to one month’s rent – paid on or before the effective date of the notice period. Compensation is owed even if the tenant gives notice to leave earlier. The tenant may choose to not pay rent in the last month of the tenancy instead of taking a payment from the landlord.

Security and Pet Damage Deposits

When a tenant moves out, the person who owns the property at the time is responsible for the tenant’s security deposit or pet deposit. This may make the buyer responsible for a tenant’s security deposit or pet damage deposit, even though the deposits were held in trust by the seller. The buyer and seller may wish to address the transfer of deposits in trust in their contract of sale or the closing settlement.

If the tenant owes money to the seller, it’s important that the parties to the sale – the buyer and seller – address these debts clearly in the contract of sale and purchase. Landlords should seek independent legal advice if they’re unsure how to do this.

Serving Notices During Tenancy

Other than serving documents for dispute resolution, tenants and landlords may serve each other notices about their tenancy. Notices need to be written on paper and all parties should keep copies. Landlords serving notice to co-tenants must give a copy to each one.

Ending a Tenancy

Proper notice must be given in order to end a tenancy – find out how:

Notice Requirements

There are specific legal requirements and deadlines for the different types of notices:

Make sure the notice you serve is legal:

Serving Notices to Landlords

There are rules about how and when a tenant can serve notice to a landlord. Use this table to determine whether a method is acceptable and when notice is considered served.

Method It’s considered received…
Give a copy directly to the landlord Same day
Leave a copy with the landlord’s agent (tenants should note the name of the person) Same day
Send a copy by registered or regular mail to the landlord’s residential address or the address where the landlord carries on business as a landlord 5 days later when the landlord does not say or show that they received it on an earlier date
Leave a copy in a mailbox or mail slot at the address where the person does business as a landlord 3 days later when the landlord does not say or show that they received it on an earlier date
Fax a copy to the service contact number provided by the landlord 3 days later
In any other way that is ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch Determined by the Residential Tenancy Branch
Slide a copy under the landlord’s door Not considered served – this is an unacceptable method
Using email or text messaging Not considered served – this is an unacceptable method

Serving Notices to Tenants

There are rules about how and when a landlord can serve notice to a tenant. Use this table to determine whether a method is acceptable and when notice is considered served.

Method It’s considered received…
Give a copy directly to the tenant Same day
Send a copy by registered or regular mail to the address of the rental unit if the tenant still lives there or to the forwarding address provided 5 days later when the tenant does not say or show that they received it on an earlier date
Attach a copy to the door or other noticeable place at the address where the tenant lives 3 days later when the tenant does not say or show that they received it on an earlier date
Leave a copy with an adult (19 years or older) who apparently lives with the tenant (landlords should note the name of the person) Same day
Leave a copy in a mailbox or mail slot at the address where the person lives 3 days later when the tenant does not say or show that they received it on an earlier date
Fax a copy to the contact number provided by the tenant 3 days later
In any other way that is ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch Determined by the Residential Tenancy Branch
Slide a copy under the tenant’s door Not considered served – this is an unacceptable method
Using email or text messaging Not considered served – this is an unacceptable method

Important Considerations

Here are a few things to remember when serving notice:

Calculating when a notice is considered served: Don’t count the day the document was mailed, faxed, attached to the door, etc. For example, if sending documents by ordinary mail on November 1st, the documents are considered to have been served on November 6th.

Keep copies of your proof of service: Regardless of the method used to serve notice, be prepared to satisfy the Residential Tenancy Branch or a court that the document was properly served.

Registered mail: Get a receipt from Canada Post and print the online tracking report from the Canada Post website. A person can’t avoid service by refusing to accept registered mail. Where registered mail is refused or deliberately not picked up, service is considered to be on the fifth day after mailing.

In-person: Get a sworn statement from somebody who personally delivered the documents or who witnessed you giving or sending the documents.

Talking it Over

Communication is the key to avoiding and resolving problems. If there’s a problem during the tenancy, the first step is usually to talk with the landlord or the tenant before taking further action. Even if it takes more than one discussion, keeping the conversation going shows your interest in finding a solution.

Solving Problems by Talking

Many problems come up because someone doesn’t realize they’ve broken the tenancy agreement or they don’t know their rights or responsibilities. Discussions about the tenancy agreement together will ensure understanding and help build a good landlord and tenant relationship.

The first thing to do when there’s a problem is talk with your landlord or tenant about it – the sooner you do, the easier it can be to resolve. The best results come from taking the time to discuss a problem and explore options suitable for both parties. This approach also avoids the dispute resolution process – which means it’s more flexible, takes less time and costs less, too.

Know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord or a tenant:

Use these tips for the best outcome:

  • Let the other party know what the problem is
  • Have a goal in mind that will be a good solution for both parties
  • Meet face-to-face in a place where you won’t be interrupted and you will both feel safe
  • Discuss the issue thoroughly
  • Be respectful of the other party and their point of view
  • Keep a record of your conversations: who you talked to, when, where and what was said
  • Follow up with the other party in writing

If the situation isn’t urgent and you can’t agree, it might be helpful to take a break for a day or two, or get someone to help mediate, like a mutual friend or an advocate.

Write a Letter

If discussing the problem doesn’t resolve it, consider writing a letter to the other party. Keep to the facts in your letter and include things like:

  • How the problem is affecting the tenancy
  • How long the problem has existed
  • What you have done to try to fix the problem or limit its effects
  • What you would like the other party to do, and by when

It’s a good idea to send any written communication in a way that can be confirmed, like faxing or using registered mail – remember to keep a copy for yourself.

Allow Time

Give the other party time to fix the problem. How long depends on the problem – serious problems should be addressed as soon as possible.

Ask for Help

The Residential Tenancy Branch can provide information to help with this process.

Apply for Dispute Resolution

If the problem can’t be resolved by discussion, negotiation and compromise, you may need to use the formal process for dispute resolution. Let the other party know you intend to apply – this can sometimes trigger interest in reaching a mutual agreement.

Get it in Writing

Landlords and tenants should keep written records of all communication between each other. This includes things like tenancy agreements, changes to tenancy agreements, permission to do anything not included in the tenancy agreement, breach letters and notices.

If a landlord and a tenant discuss an issue and agree on how to solve it, a written record pr paper trail of what happened may be helpful if there is disagreement later.

The Tenancy Agreement

Changes to the tenancy agreement require written agreement from all parties to the agreement.

Written Permission

There are some things that require written permission during a tenancy. Even if written permission is not required by law, it’s a good idea to confirm verbal agreements in writing.

The tenant needs to get written permission from the landlord when they want to:

  • Sublet or assign the tenancy
  • Change the locks, if they don’t have an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch
  • End a fixed-term tenancy agreement early
  • Make changes to the rental unit such as painting, wallpapering, adding a grab bar to the bath area, changing carpet or adding an air conditioning unit
  • Apply some or all of their security deposit or pet damage deposit to the rent

The landlord needs to get written permission from the tenant when they want to:

Serving Documents or Notices

It’s important to have a copy of written documents that were shared with the other party. For example, if a tenant gives a letter to the landlord requesting repairs or a landlord provides notice to enter the rental unit. If a dispute ever occurs, evidence of when and how these documents were given will be useful.

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