In B.C, renters and landlords are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act.
Here are three important things to know as renters.
1. Deposits can be no more than half of one month’s rent
A landlord can ask for a damage deposit at the beginning of the rental term, however, it can be no more than half of one month’s rent. Separately, a landlord can also request a pet damage deposit for the same amount.
However, if a renter does not pay the deposit within 30 days of entering the unit, a landlord can serve a one month notice to end tenancy.
When a renter moves out, landlords should return the pet and/or damage deposit with interest. However, if there is damage to the unit the landlord can ask to keep part or all of the deposit.
Upon arrival but prior to moving in, landlords and tenants must inspect the unit for damages from the previous tenant for things like scratches and carpet stains. A record must be kept of damages as evidence for the move out inspection.
2. Your landlord can’t evict you with no notice or reason
Landlords must give proper notice to evict renters. Timelines differ depending on circumstances.
If a renter does not pay rent, landlords can serve a 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy. The renter must then pay overdue rent within five days or apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for dispute resolution.
A landlord must give one month’s notice prior to eviction if:
- security or pet damage deposit is unpaid within 30 days of entering into a tenancy agreement
- rent is late at least three times
- a tenant gave false information to someone interested in buying the unit or building
- unit is subletted without landlord’s consent
- a tenant was provided the unit as condition of employment and the job ended
- an unreasonable amount of people live in the unit
- extraordinary damage was done to the property, or it was put at significant risk
- damage was done and not repaired within a reasonable period
- health and safety of landlord or other occupants was seriously risked
- landlord or other occupants were disturbed or interfered unreasonably
- illegal activity was engaged in
Landlords are required to give four months’ notice if they intend to do major renovations.
After evicting a renter, landlords are required by law to make updates or use the unit in the way described in the reason for eviction, for at least six months.
If you believe you have been illegally evicted you can apply for dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch.
3. Rent can only be increased once a year
In B.C. landlords are only legally allowed to increase rent once per 12 month period and required to give the tenant three months’ notice prior to the increase.
The amount of increase is determined by the tenancy branch based on the Consumer Price Index. For example, in 2020 it is 2.6 per cent.
However, due to the pandemic, the tenancy branch put a freeze on rent increases since March, however, the freeze will be lifted by Dec. 1.
If your landlord has illegally raised your rent you do not have to pay higher than the legal amount and can apply for a dispute resolution to the Residential Tenancy Branch.
For more information see gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy
To contact the Residential Tenancy Branch see gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/contact-the-residential-tenancy-branch