Sublet & Assignment

Written permission from the landlord is required to sublet a rental unit or assign a tenancy agreement.

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Sublet

When the original tenant moves out of their rental unit and allows someone (the sub-tenant) to have exclusive occupancy of their rental unit and pay the rent for part of the term of the tenancy agreement, it is considered a sublet.

In this situation, a new tenancy agreement (a sublease), must be signed by both the original tenant and the sub-tenant. The original tenant then becomes the sub-tenant’s landlord – both this relationship and the one with the original landlord involve enforceable rights and responsibilities. The sub-tenant only has the same rights and obligations outlined in the original tenancy agreement – the agreement with the sub-tenant cannot contradict the original tenancy agreement. There is no contractual relationship between the original landlord and the sub-tenant.

Assignment

When the original tenant finds someone to take over the tenancy agreement – usually to get out of a fixed-term tenancy early or when transferring ownership of a manufactured home. In these cases, the new tenant assumes all of the rights and responsibilities under the original tenancy agreement – unless the landlord and new tenant agree to new terms or a sign a new agreement.

Rules

A tenant can only sublet or assign a tenancy if:

  • The tenant has the landlord’s written agreement or, in a manufactured home park tenancy, is considered to have obtained the landlord's consent; or
  • The tenant has an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) allowing the sublease or assignment; and
  • The tenancy agreement doesn’t prohibit subletting or assignment of the rental unit (subsidized housing providers usually don’t allow subletting or assignment).

Landlord’s Permission

A tenant must have their landlord’s written permission before subletting or assigning their tenancy. A landlord can’t unreasonably refuse a sublet or assignment of a fixed-term tenancy for a period of six months or more.

If the landlord reasonably believes that the person won’t be able to follow the terms of the tenancy agreement or manufactured home park rules, the landlord can refuse the request for an assignment or sublease. Tenants can apply for dispute resolution if they believe their landlord has been unreasonable in refusing to allow a sublet or assignment.

For assignments, a landlord can collect information and perform a credit check on a proposed tenant and can refuse to allow the assignment if they aren’t satisfied that the proposed tenant will be able or likely to pay rent. The fees associated with confirming a proposed tenant’s suitability cannot be passed on to the original tenant.

If a tenant sublets or assigns their tenancy without the landlord’s written permission, the landlord may serve notice to end the tenancy – which means the tenancy would also end for the sub-tenant, unless they’re able to negotiate a new tenancy agreement with the landlord.

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

In manufactured home parks or mobile home parks, a request to sublet or assign the tenancy usually happens when the manufactured home owner sells the home.

Before requesting the landlord’s permission to allow the sublease or assignment of a manufactured home park tenancy, the tenant must provide the proposed buyer or sub-tenant with written copies of the park’s rules and any relevant parts of the tenancy agreement.

A tenant must give their request in writing to the landlord. The landlord has 10 days to respond.

How a request is served affects when the landlord is considered to have received it. For example, handing the request directly to the landlord on March 1st means the landlord has until March 11th to respond. Posting on the door or mailing it to the landlord means a longer wait.

If the landlord hasn’t responded to a request to sublet or assign a manufactured home park tenancy within 10 days after receiving it, the tenant may go ahead with the sublet or assignment unless the landlord and home owner otherwise agree.

Tenant Death or Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy or death of a tenant affects the tenancy. When someone is named as the executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a bankruptcy, the law assigns the rights and responsibilities of the tenancy to that person – they may choose to either continue the tenancy or give notice to end it.

Where a tenancy has been assigned in this way, the landlord’s consent isn’t needed. However, it’s always good for the executor or administrator to inform the landlord of their involvement and keep the lines of communication open.

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: December 5, 2016.

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