Changes to the Agreement
Once a tenancy has begun, terms of the tenancy agreement can only be changed or added with the written agreement of both the landlord and tenant. Removing standard terms is not an option– they’re included in every tenancy agreement, whether they’re in writing or not.
Get it in Writing
Any changes must be in writing and both parties should have copies of the changed agreement.
Landlords do not need a tenant’s consent to make changes in an agreement for:
- Rent increases in accordance with the law
- Withdrawal of, or a restriction on, a non-essential service or facility in accordance with the law
- Changes permitted by an arbitrator’s order
Sublet and Assignment
With the landlord’s permission, sometimes tenants get someone else to complete all or part of the term of their tenancy – this is called a sublet or assignment of tenancy.
A landlord may include restrictions in a tenancy agreement about additional occupants as long as these terms aren’t discriminatory or clearly unfair.
A landlord can’t charge fees for guests.
Under an existing tenancy agreement, the landlord can only increase the rent in response to additional occupants if the agreement includes a term allowing the rent to vary by a stated amount based on the number of occupants or the parties all agree to sign a new tenancy agreement.
Landlords and tenants should discuss the addition of roommates to the tenancy agreement so they are clear about the terms of the new arrangement. Without being added to the tenancy agreement, roommates do not have recourse through the Residential Tenancy Branch as there is no contractual relationship between the roommate and the landlord.
If a tenancy agreement says pets aren’t allowed and a landlord later agrees to allow a pet, the landlord and tenant should negotiate the pet clause together and record it in the agreement.
A landlord can restrict the size, kind and number of pets and can make other reasonable pet-related rules that the tenant must follow.
A landlord can increase the rent if 12 months have passed since either the tenancy started or the last rental increase. There are limits on annual rent increases.
At least three months in advance, the landlord must serve notice of the rent increase using the appropriate documentation.:
Manufactured Home Park Rules
Some manufactured home parks have park committees that develop, change and pass rules for the operation of a manufactured home park. If the park committee can’t agree on new or changed rules, the tenants of the park may be asked to vote on new or changed rules.
If there is no park committee, the landlord can establish park rules that must be given in writing to each tenant. The landlord or the park committee must give tenants two weeks’ written notice of any change in the park rules.
Essential Services and Facilities
A landlord must provide and maintain services that are essential to the health and safety of the tenant or are necessary to make the rental unit livable – heat, water and electricity, for example. Tenants can be required to pay for these services in the tenancy agreement, but the landlord is responsible for making sure they’re available.
Services or facilities that aren’t necessary to make the rental unit liveable are considered non-essential. For example, a landlord can stop providing a non-essential service or facility, like cable, if:
30-days’ notice is provided: Tenants must be notified about the change in service or facility using the Notice Terminating or Restricting a Service or Facility form (PDF, 1.7MB).
The rent is reduced: Landlords must reduce the rent by an amount equal to the cost of getting a reasonably similar service or facility. If not, the termination or restriction could be considered a hidden rent increase. For example, if a landlord discontinued basic cable services and only offered a rent reduction of $15 per month while the cost for tenants to obtain basic cable is $40 per month.
It’s not a material term: Even if a service or facility isn’t essential, providing it may still be considered a material term of the tenancy agreement – a term considered so important that the smallest breach of it gives the other party the right to end the agreement. If the landlord doesn’t correct a breach of a material term, the tenant can end the tenancy and apply for dispute resolution claiming compensation from the landlord.
The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: July 22, 2016.