Once you move out
Giving notice to end the tenancy
When you decide to move out of a rental unit, you must give your landlord proper notice, or else you may lose your deposit. Proper notice means you put it in writing and include your name, the date, address of the rental unit, and the date you plan to move. You must sign the notice. The Residential Tenancy Branch suggests you include a forwarding address with your notice, which the landlord is entitled to have before returning your deposits.
The notice must be given at least one month in advance and before rent is due. For example, if the next rent payment is due on April 1, and you give one-month notice on March 29, your tenancy will be finished at the end of April.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy—meaning that your rental agreement is for a certain amount of time (usually a year)—your notice to move out should line up with the end date of the tenancy. Otherwise, you may lose your deposit or be required to reimburse your landlord for lost costs.
If you need to move before the end of your rental agreement, talk to your landlord and see if they will sign a Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy, which allows you to move without penalty. There are also exceptions for special situations, such as if you are fleeing violence.
- Although many people use email to communicate with their landlords, it’s not an officially recognized way to give notice. According to the Residential Tenancy Act, you must have a paper document, and you must deliver it in a particular way. See here and here for information on what is legally acceptable.
An eviction notice must be taken seriously. If the landlord has followed the law in giving you one, you may be forced to move out. The circumstances surrounding eviction notices can be complicated. It is recommended that you immediately get in touch with a support worker or housing advocate if you receive an eviction notice.
There are different kinds of eviction notices. Some involve tenant behaviour:
10 Day Eviction Notice
- This can be given if you do not pay your full rent on time, or you have owed money for utilities for over 30 days.
- After receiving the notice, you have five calendar days to dispute it with the Residential Tenancy Branch, or to pay your full rent and have the notice cancelled. Otherwise, you must move out by the 10th day
One Month Eviction Notice
- This can be given because of other problems (e.g., damaging the rental unit, having too many people living there, repeatedly disturbing other tenants with loud music)
- After receiving the notice, you have 10 calendar days to dispute it with the Residential Tenancy Branch. Otherwise, you must move out within one month of the next day your rent is due. For example, if you receive the notice on October 14, and the next rent payment is due November 1, you have until the end of November to leave
Other eviction notices are issued when a landlord has plans for a rental unit or building:
Two Month Eviction Notice
- This can be given in order to allow someone else to live in the housing unit:
1. the landlord or a close family member (i.e., spouse, parent or child of the spouse, or parent or child of the landlord) wants to live there;
2. the housing unit is sold, and the new owner or a close family member wants to live there; or
3. you live in a subsidized unit but no longer qualify for it.
- After receiving the notice, you have 15 calendar days to dispute it with the Residential Tenancy Branch. Otherwise, you must move out within two months of the next day that your rent is due. For example, if you receive the notice on October 14, and the next rent payment is due November 1, you have until the end of December to leave
Four Month Eviction Notice
- This can be given if the landlord plans to demolish or renovate the unit to the extent that you cannot live in it, or convert it into a different kind of unit (e.g., strata lot, unit for building manager).
- The landlord must have the proper legal permits for this work because giving an eviction notice.
- After receiving the notice, you have 30 calendar days to dispute it with the Residential Tenancy Branch. Otherwise, you must move out within four months of the next day your rent is due. For example, if you receive the notice on October 14, and the next rent payment is due November 1, you have until the end of February to leave.
- Note: A landlord must act in good faith if they plan to end a tenancy to do major construction or major renovations or repairs. This means the landlord must have no ulterior motive for their plan. They must honestly intend to use the rental site for the purposes stated on the notice to end the tenancy. Please see the policy guideline on ending a tenancy in good faith.
- Get in touch with a support worker or housing advocate as soon as you receive an eviction notice. There are deadlines for disputing each type of eviction notice with the Residential Tenancy Branch.
- Use this calculator to figure out the deadline for disputing an eviction notice.
- If you receive a Two Month or Four Month Eviction Notice, you are entitled to one month’s rent to help you move. The landlord must pay you or give you the last month free. (This doesn’t apply if you received the notice because you do not qualify for your subsidized housing).
- You may have the right to move back into your unit after renovations have been completed. To find out more, speak to a support worker or housing advocate.
Leaving belongings behind
- If you move out and leave items behind, the landlord can consider them abandoned property. If the items are worth less than $500, the landlord can get rid of them. If they are worth $500 or more, the landlord must make a list of everything, then store them safely for at least 60 days.
- If the cost of moving, storing, and selling or disposing of the items would cost more than their value, the landlord does not have to keep them. The landlord also doesn’t have to keep them if doing so would be unsafe or unsanitary.
- The landlord must give at least 30 days’ notice that they plan to sell or dispose of the items. They must put a notice in a local newspaper that serves that area where the housing unit is located. If the 30 days passes and the items have not been claimed, the landlord can sell or dispose of them. The landlord can use any money from sales to cover the costs of moving, storing, and disposing of the items; any fees for putting out notices; and any debts left by you. The rest of the money must go to the BC Unclaimed Property Society. If you claim your belongings within 60 days of leaving them behind, you will have to pay for any moving, storage, and notice costs, as well as any money you owe to the landlord. More information on abandonment of property can be found here.
- If you will be in the hospital for an extended period, consider informing your landlord or having someone do so for you so the landlord knows you have not abandoned the housing unit and knows where to contact you. Learn more about this circumstance here.
- The landlord can consider a housing unit abandoned if you have removed most of your belongings or haven’t paid your rent or lived there for at least one month, and you cannot reasonably be expected to return. The landlord can then consider anything left behind to be abandoned property.
Further Reading and Resources