Once You Move In
Your rental agreement should state when rent is due each month. You must make sure that you pay by midnight on the due date, meaning that the landlord has received it by then. A landlord may choose to state in a rental agreement what forms of payment are allowed (e.g., cheques, post-dated cheques, email transfer). Landlords must provide receipts for rent paid in cash; hold onto them in order to prove that you paid your rent.
If rent is not received by midnight on the due date, a landlord can give the tenant a 10 Day Eviction Notice. This can happen even if it was a roommate who did not pay rent. The tenant then has three options:
- pay all overdue rent within five days of receiving the notice, in which case the eviction notice is cancelled;
- apply for dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch within five days of receiving the eviction notice; or
- not pay the overdue rent (and move out within 10 days), in which case the landlord may decide to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to make the tenant pay the money.
Landlords can also issue an eviction notice if you routinely pay your rent late (at least three times in a short period).
The rent can be raised once per year, within an amount set by the government. To do so, a landlord needs to use the right form and give the tenant three full months’ notice of the rent increase. Subsidized housing providers do not have to follow these rules for rent increases when the amount of rent is tied to a tenant’s income.
- Consider if you need to change the way you spend money in order to pay your full rent on time each month.
- If you will not be able to pay your rent on time, let your landlord know. If your landlord agrees that you can pay it late this time, have the agreement put in writing. Remember that the landlord may not have the same response if you are unable to pay rent again in the future.
- If you receive monthly income assistance and have unexpected emergency needs, you might be able to get a crisis supplement (temporary financial assistance) from the BC government. Talk to a support worker or the ministry for more information.
- Do not withhold rent because you are having issues with your landlord (e.g., repairs are not being made). You could be evicted because of it.
- If you receive an eviction notice, immediately contact a support worker or housing advocate for help.
There are two kinds of deposits a landlord can ask for. The first is a security deposit. The other is a pet damage deposit, which applies only if you have a pet. Each deposit can be no more than half the monthly rent.
The landlord will hold these deposits in trust as security against damage to the rental unit until you move out. To get them back, you must leave your housing unit in good condition. This means it must be clean and undamaged, except for normal wear and tear.
At the beginning of a tenancy, a landlord and tenant must inspect the rental unit together—this is sometimes called a condition inspection, a walk-through inspection, or a move-in inspection.” It should be done when the unit is empty, after the previous tenant has moved out, and before the new tenant moves in.
If a tenant plans to get a pet during the tenancy, the landlord and tenant should inspect the condition of the rental unit and complete a condition inspection report. This should be done before the tenant gets the new pet and before the pet damage deposit is paid.
When you move out, you and the landlord should look over the housing unit together—this is called a move-out condition inspection. The landlord is required to offer you two opportunities to complete the condition inspection.
When you move out, you and the landlord should look over the housing unit together—this is called a condition inspection. You should have also done an inspection when you first moved in and received a copy of the report. The landlord should fill out a new report on the condition of the unit for both of you need to sign. You must receive a copy. The landlord is required to offer you two opportunities to complete the condition inspection.
You must also provide, in writing, an address to which the landlord can return the deposit money (with interest if there is any). The landlord must give it to you within 15 days of the end of your tenancy or the date they received the address from you, whichever comes later.
You may not get your full deposit back if any of the following happens:
- you owe money to the landlord;
- you, a roommate, a guest, or a pet are responsible for damage to the housing unit;
- you do not participate in the condition inspection (and the landlord gave you two opportunities to do so); or
- you do not give the landlord, in writing, an address to send the money to within one year after the end of the tenancy.
If you owe the landlord money, or if there was damage to the housing unit, you and the landlord may agree that the landlord is entitled to keep a certain amount of the deposit. In this case, the agreement should be put in writing, and you should keep a copy.
If the landlord wants to keep all or part of a deposit, and you disagree with this, the landlord must apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to keep some or all of the deposit. If you receive notice that this has taken place, it is very important to attend the dispute resolution hearing to speak about the issues. Make sure to prepare for the hearing in advance. For more information on this see here.
- See here for a template letter to request your deposit back.
- Speak to a support worker or housing advocate if your landlord will not give your deposit back.
Repairs and Maintenance
The tenant and landlord are both responsible for maintaining the housing unit. The landlord must make sure the housing unit is in good condition, meets health and safety standards, and includes everything listed in the rental agreement (e.g., fridge, laundry access). As a tenant, you must keep the housing unit clean and free of damage. Reasonable wear and tear, which comes from normal everyday use, is permitted.
The responsibility for outdoor maintenance, including snow shovelling and lawn mowing, depends on whether other tenants have access to the outdoor space. If you are renting a full house, or if you live in a building with multiple units but yours is the only one with access to a yard, then you are responsible. If you live in a building with multiple housing units that share access to an outdoor space, then the landlord is responsible for it.
Here are some steps to take when your housing unit needs repairs:
- Tell your landlord as soon as possible, so the problem doesn’t get worse.
- Put it in writing. If you didn’t initially communicate the problem to your landlord in writing, follow up with a message about it. Keep track of the dates you contact your landlord. Save copies of your letters.
- Take pictures or videos of the damage. Save them.
- If your landlord will not make a repair, or you disagree about who should pay for it, you can apply for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch.
If you, a roommate, a guest, or a pet cause any damage, you will be responsible for it. Tell your landlord about the situation to determine a course of action. Most likely your landlord will arrange the repairs and you will pay for some or all of the costs.
Some situations pose an immediate threat to health and safety and require emergency repairs. (It’s a good idea to download our Tenant Troubleshooting Guide for emergency situations like this.) The landlord must give you an emergency contact and phone number. If you have contacted the landlord or emergency contact two times (and allowed a reasonable amount of time to receive a response) and no one has responded, you can arrange to have the repairs done. When the landlord becomes involved, they can decide whether to let the repairs continue or hire their own people to finish the work. They must pay you back if you have spent any money on the repairs, as long as the cost is reasonable for the service. Emergency repairs can be done to address the following issues:
- major leaks in pipes or roof,
- damaged plumbing fixtures,
- problems with the main heating system,
- problems with the electrical system, and
- broken locks that make the housing unit insecure.
- Are you unsure if a problem if your responsibility or the landlord’s responsibility to fix? Check these lists provided by the Tenant Resource and Advocacy Centre and the BC government.
- Do not withhold rent in order to get your landlord to make repairs. You could be evicted because of it.
Bed bugs and other infestations
The landlord is responsible for dealing with bed bugs and other kinds of infestations or pests. This can include mice, rats, cockroaches, and ants. As soon as you learn about a problem with pests, write to your landlord. It’s best to have it dealt with right away. See here for a template letter you can use. If possible, take photos of the problem.
If you have a bed bug infestation, the landlord must hire a professional pest management company to deal with it. In turn, you must cooperate with the process of getting rid of the bed bugs.
Bed bug facts
- Bed bugs do not spread diseases to people. They cannot transmit HIV.
- Bed bug infestations are not related to cleanliness. Bed bugs may travel from a neighbouring housing unit, on used furniture and books, or on visitors who have been somewhere that has bed bugs.
- You may feel nervous or embarrassed about reporting bed bugs and other pests. This is very understandable. Know that these problems are increasingly common and hard to avoid, and many people experience them.
- You may have to pay some of the costs if you don’t tell your landlord about bed bugs or other pests right away. The landlord can argue that you let the infestation get worse.
- If you get in the way of professionals trying to deal with the bed bugs, or you don’t follow their instructions, your landlord may be able to argue that you should pay for some of the costs.
- If the landlord does not hire a professional company to deal with a bed bug infestation, you can apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch.
In general, a landlord must give written notice before entering the housing unit. The notice must be received by the tenants at least 24 hours (but no more than 30 days) ahead of time. It must include the date and time that the landlord plans to enter, as well as the reason for doing so. The landlord can come only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (unless you agree to another time).
With appropriate notice, a landlord has the right to conduct monthly inspections of the housing unit.
You can remain at home when the landlord comes, and the landlord cannot require you to leave. If you aren’t home, the landlord can still enter.
There are some situations in which a landlord can enter the housing unit without giving notice:
- when there’s an emergency, and life or property are in danger;
- when someone is home and agrees to let the landlord in;
- when the tenants have abandoned the housing unit;
- when someone needs to enter and provide cleaning services, as outlined in the rental agreement; or
- when the landlord has a Residential Tenancy Branch order or court order to enter.
- If your landlord is not following the proper procedure for entering your housing unit, you can write a letter stating that they must provide appropriate notice before doing so again. See here for a template letter explaining a landlord’s restricted right to enter a rental unit.
- If you go to dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch, you will need to prove that the landlord entered your home without following proper procedures. Gather evidence if you can, such as letters you wrote to the landlord, photos, and videos. If you have witnesses, get them to write a statement.