Renting in British Columbia
Governing or Regulatory Body:
Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), Ministry of Social Development
Name of Act / Regulations
- Residential Tenancy Act (RTA)
- Residential Tenancy Regulation
- Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (MHPTA)
- Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Regulation
Types of Housing/Living Arrangements Covered by the Provincial Legislation
Residential premises including manufactured home parks and accommodations with exclusive possession by the tenants.
Exclusions: Housing rented by a non-profit housing co-op to a member of that co-op; housing owned or operated by an educational institution and made available for students and employees of that school; housing where the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner; housing that is included with property used primarily for business and rented under a single agreement; housing intended for travel and vacation rental accommodations; housing provided for emergency shelter or transitional needs; housing rented under a tenancy agreement that has a term longer than 20 years; housing that falls under the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act; housing that falls under the Community® Care Facility Act, Continuing Care Act, Hospital Act, or Mental Health Act; housing that provides hospitality support services and personal care; certain seniors care facilities; housing provided during rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment.
Types of Rental Periods
The tenancy agreement can be for a fixed term or a period that relates to a calendar week, month, or year. Most tenancies are month to month.
British Columbia laws require a written tenancy agreement. Many fixed-term tenancy agreements are referred to as leases. A landlord is obligated to give the tenant a copy of the tenancy agreement within 21 days of signing.
Signed move in/move out condition report
For residential premises, but not for manufactured home sites. As of January 1, 2004 it is mandatory for landlords and tenants to conduct ingoing and outgoing inspections and complete ingoing and outgoing Condition Inspection Reports. If the reports are not completed, the landlord or tenant runs the risk of jeopardizing their security deposit.
The maximum security deposit for residential premises allowed is ½ month's rent. If tenants pay more than ½ month's rent, they can deduct this overpayment from any rent owing. However, if the landlord allows pets they can also ask for an additional ½ month’s rent for pet damage deposit. This means that in this case the total combined deposits can be up to one month’s rent. Landlords can also require deposits for additional keys, garage door openers, etc. in addition to the security and pet damage deposits.A landlord can request the security deposit only at the time the tenancy agreement is entered into, but can request a pet damage deposit at any time during the tenancy if a pet is introduced. The interest rate on these deposits is based on 4.5 percentage points below prime on January 1st. Landlords have 15 days after the tenant moves out, and provides a forwarding address, to either return the deposit or get the tenant's written consent for deductions to the deposit (such as using the deposit to pay to repair damages). If no consent is received, landlord must keep some or all of the security deposit within the 15 day time frame. A pet damage deposit can only be used for damage caused by a pet and not for any other cost the landlord incurs.
Security deposits and pet damage deposits are not permitted for manufactured home site rentals.
The landlord must not charge a fee for a key that is the tenant's only means of access. The landlord may charge a fee for additional or replacement keys.
Landlords may request post-dated cheques.
Late Rent Payments
Rent is considered late if not paid on or before the first day of the rental period. Landlords may request an administration fee of not more than $25 for late payment, based on what the lease or tenancy agreement states.
Rent Increases: Notice and Timing
British Columbia has rent control. Landlords must use the approved form “Notice of Rent Increase” and give the tenant 3 month’s notice to increase rent. Tenants cannot dispute the rent increase unless the increase is more than the allowable amount.
For manufactured home park tenancies, landlords can also recover costs due to increased utility fees and property taxes as long as increases are distributed proportionately among tenants. In this situation, landlords must provide tenants with copies of the receipts and tax notices that justify the rent increase.
Renewal of Tenancy Agreement Term
A fixed-term tenancy agreement must specify an ending date with vacant possession (the date by which the tenant must vacate the premises). If no date is specified, the lease automatically converts to a month-to-month tenancy and all terms in the agreement remain the same.
Terminating a Tenancy: Notice and Timing
Prior to a fixed term tenancy agreement expiring, it is the responsibility of landlord and tenant to either re-negotiate terms or terminate the tenancy agreement. Tenants who give written notice to end a fixed term tenancy agreement prior to the expiry date may be held accountable for all costs the landlord incurs in re-renting including lost rent. Landlords may end a tenancy only for specified reasons as set out in the legislation and cannot end a tenancy simply because a fixed term has expired unless the language of the lease specifies the tenant will vacate at the end of the term. When a fixed term tenancy reverts to a month to month tenancy, the landlord cannot force a tenant to sign another lease or agree to another fixed term. When a tenancy agreement is renewed, landlords and tenants may agree to the same or different terms.
Early termination can be ordered by the RTB where there are serious situations involving safety, cause or conduct. All other tenancies are ended: by the landlord on a Notice to End Tenancy form; on written notice by the tenant; or by written agreement between the parties.
A tenant must give one rental month's notice in writing to the landlord the day before the rent is due. If the landlord wishes to end a tenancy, one of the province's approved notice to End a Tenancy form must be used.
Landlords must allow tenants these notice periods depending on the reason for notice given:
- 10 days for non-payment of rent,
- 1 month for cause or conduct,
- 2 months for landlord's use of property in a residential tenancy.
- 2 months if the tenant ceases to qualify for a subsidized rental unit in residential tenancy
- 12 months for the landlord's use of property in a manufactured home site
There are several reasons why a landlord may evict a tenant and the rules that apply to them differ. They are:
- Material breach of a rental agreement is the reason used if the tenant is in breach of the agreement and has been given one written warning and a reasonable time to comply, or correct the breach. Breach of agreement requires one month's notice.
- Non payment of rent requires 10 days notice. The tenant may cancel the eviction notice by paying rent within five days. Similarly, a tenant may apply for dispute resolution within that same five-day period. Otherwise, the tenant must vacate in 10 days.
- Cause or conduct requires one month’s notice; a tenant has 10 days to apply for dispute resolution.
- Landlord's use of property requires 2 month's notice with a 15-day dispute period. Landlords are required to pay the equivalent of 1 month’s rent to the tenant on or before the effective date of the end of tenancy. For manufactured home sites, 12 month's notice is required with a 15 day dispute period.
- Tenant ceases to qualify for subsidized rental unit (residential tenancy) requires 2 month's notice with 15-day dispute period.
If disputed, the Landlord must prove through evidence that there is a valid reason to end the tenancy.
If a tenant does not dispute the Notice to End Tenancy, then it is deemed that the tenant has accepted the end of tenancy. If tenant does not move, the landlord may apply for an order of possession, which is enforced through the Supreme Court, by a bailiff.
An RTB decision or order is final and binding. It may be reviewed by the RTB if the initial decision was obtained by fraud, if evidence arises that was not available at the time of the hearing or if a party was not able to attend because of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a bridge collapse. In addition, either party may petition the BC Supreme Court for a Judicial Review on the basis of an error in law, or an error in procedural fairness.