BC Landlord & Tenant Information
What is a "tenancy agreement"?
A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant. The BC Residential Tenancy Act and the BC Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act are the laws governing tenancy agreements. A tenancy agreement must be in writing and it must contain terms that outline the rights and responsibilities of both parties, including standard terms that are required under the tenancy laws.
- Guidebook: Residential Tenancy Act - A Guide for Landlords & Tenants in British Columbia(PDF)
- Guidebook: Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act - A Guide for Manufactured Home Park Landlords & Tenants in British Columbia (PDF)
- Policy Guideline 14: Type of Tenancy - Commercial or Residential (PDF)
- Policy Guideline 8: Unconscionable and Material Terms (PDF)
- Policy Guideline 20: Illegal Contracts (PDF)
- Fact Sheet RTB-113: Protecting Against Illegal Activity on a Rental Property (PDF)
Can standard terms be omitted from a tenancy agreement?
No. A landlord is responsible for ensuring that any tenancy agreement entered into or renewed after July 1, 1996, complies in all respects with residential tenancy law including the applicable Regulation. The Regulations state that standard terms, whether included or not in the written tenancy agreement, form part of the agreement.
Requesting Information on a Tenancy Application
Can a landlord ask for credit information?
The BC Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act allows a landlord to obtain a credit report for a person entering into or renewing a tenancy agreement, with the tenant's written consent. If the person does not consent to the landlord obtaining a credit report, the landlord may choose not to enter into a tenancy agreement with that person.
Can a landlord ask for the tenant's Social Insurance Number?
A landlord may ask a tenant for his or her social insurance number if a social insurance number is necessary to prove the tenant’s identity or to conduct a credit check. However, a landlord must not, as a condition of renting to a tenant, require a tenant to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information beyond what is necessary to provide the service.
Pets in Tenancies
The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (MHPTA) do not have any provisions that say whether pets are, or are not allowed. The landlord owns the property and can make the decision that pets are prohibited or allowed. However, under both acts, a landlord can include a term in the tenancy agreement that prohibits pets, restricts the size, kind and number of pets that may be kept on the premises, and can establish rules about the tenant’s obligations about pets kept on the property. A landlord and tenant can also negotiate a pet clause. Pet clauses in a tenancy agreement If a landlord wishes to include a pet clause in a tenancy agreement, the restrictions must be reasonable. There have been court cases related to pet clauses in tenancy agreements and courts have found that pet clauses that are too broad are not enforceable. For example, a pet clause that “had the effect of prohibiting the keeping of a single fish in a bowl” was found to be unenforceable. Ending a tenancy because of a pet If a tenancy agreement has a no-pets clause and the tenant gets one that the landlord thinks is inappropriate, the landlord must give the tenant a letter telling them that this goes against the tenancy agreement. This letter (called a “breach letter”) must give the tenant a reasonable time to get rid of the pet and tell the tenant that failure to do so will result in the tenancy ending (eviction). Where there is not a no-pets clause in the tenancy agreement, a landlord can issue a notice to end the tenancy if the tenant’s pet: is unreasonably disturbing other tenants; or seriously interferes with the safety or other lawful right of the landlord or other occupants of the property; or has caused extraordinary damage to the property; or has caused damage and the tenant has refused to repair the damage within a reasonable time after being asked to do so by the landlord. The landlord must serve a proper Notice to End Tenancy for Cause on the tenant. If an arbitrator in a dispute resolution hearing finds that a Notice to End Tenancy is justified, the arbitrator may issue an order of possession that requires the tenant to move out. There are other factors that will be taken into consideration if a tenant disputes a notice to end tenancy because of a pet: Is the landlord applying the same rules about pets to all tenants? If one tenant is permitted to have a pet and another tenant is not, it is unlikely the pet clause or term would be considered a material term. Did the landlord know the tenant had a pet, but failed to take any action right away? A landlord who has not enforced or uniformly enforced a pet clause should give all tenants notice that the pet clause will be enforced as of a certain date and provide enough time for tenants to comply. Pets in Tenancies Page 2 of 2 Pet damage deposits s. 18 RTA A landlord who permits a new tenant to have a pet can charge a one-time pet damage deposit. The pet damage deposit cannot be more than half of one month’s rent, regardless of the number of pets. The security deposit and pet damage deposit combined cannot be more than one month’s rent. A landlord who lets an existing tenant get a pet can require the tenant to pay a pet damage deposit. Before receiving the pet deposit, the landlord and the tenant must get together to inspect the rental unit and must fill out a “condition inspection report”. The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the report within seven (7) days. Pet damage deposits cannot be charged for guide animals, pets that were at the rental unit as of January 1, 2004 or for pets in manufactured home park tenancies. See Fact Sheet RTB-109 “Returning the Security Deposit and the Pet Damage Deposit”. Tenant is responsible for damage caused by a pet Tenants must repair any damage caused by a pet or must be prepared to forfeit all or part of their pet damage deposit. If the amount of the pet damage deposit is not enough to cover the damage, a landlord can ask for an order that the tenant pay the extra cost of repairing damage caused by a pet. Can a tenant keep a pet if the landlord knew about it and said nothing, even though there is a pet clause in the tenancy agreement? The pet clause might not be enforceable if a tenant can prove the landlord knew about the pet, and silently agreed to it, by not dealing with the matter when it came to the landlord’s attention. If a landlord wants to end the tenancy due to the pet, the landlord needs to give notice that the pet clause will be enforced and provide a reasonable time for the tenant to comply. What if the landlord gave verbal permission for a pet, even though the tenancy agreement prohibits pet? A tenant should not rely on verbal agreement. Instead, the tenant should ask the landlord for permission in writing. This could be either a separate written agreement that is attached to the tenancy agreement or a handwritten note on the original tenancy agreement that is initialled by both landlord and tenant. If a tenant can prove the landlord verbally agreed to the pet, the landlord may not be able to enforce the no-pet clause or claim that the tenant has breached the pet clause. To start enforcing the clause, the landlord should give notice that the pet clause will be enforced and provide a reasonable period for the tenant to comply.
When a tenant moves out, he or she should clean the unit and remove all belongings before the condition inspection. Any damage caused by the tenant, a guest of the tenant, or a pet should also be fixed. Otherwise, the landlord may want to keep some or all of a deposit to cover cleaning or repair costs. Both the landlord and tenant must be there together when the inspections are done at the start and end of a tenancy. Both the landlord and tenant must sign and date the Condition Inspection Report at the start and end of the tenancy and the landlord must give the tenant a completed copy of the report within 15 days.