Returning Deposits

When a residential tenancy ends and after a tenant gives the landlord their forwarding address in writing, the landlord must return all of the deposits plus any interest unless the tenant agrees in writing to allow the landlord to keep all or part of the deposit or an arbitrator orders that the landlord may keep the deposit. 

A landlord may return the deposit to the tenant by electronic means, in person, by mail or by leaving it in the mailbox or mail slot at the tenant's residence. If the landlord returns the deposit by electronic means, the landlord can't charge the tenant a fee for doing so.

What are the rules for getting a deposit back after the tenancy ends? 

When can a landlord keep a deposit?

What does a tenant need to do to get their deposit?

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Video: Security & Pet Damage Deposits

When a tenant moves out, they need to give the landlord their forwarding address in writing. The landlord is required to return to the tenant all of their deposits, plus any interest – except in a couple of situations:

  • If a tenant agrees in writing to allow the landlord to keep all or part of the deposit
  • An arbitrator decides that the landlord can keep the deposit

After a tenant has moved out and given the landlord a forwarding address in writing, the landlord has 15 days to:

  • Return the deposit(s) with any interest to the tenant
  • Ask the tenant to agree in writing to any deductions and return the difference to the tenant
  • Apply for dispute resolution asking to keep all or some of a deposit

If the landlord doesn’t take action within the 15-day timeline, the tenant can apply for dispute resolution requesting their deposit be returned. The landlord may be ordered to pay the tenant double the amount of the deposit(s).

Issues with Deposits

If there’s a disagreement about deposit deductions, try to reach a solution by calmly discussing it with the other party.

A tenant can apply for dispute resolution if the landlord kept all or part of the deposit without the tenant’s written permission. The tenant's application can be made within two years of the end of the tenancy – as long as the tenant gave the landlord their forwarding address in writing (within one year of the end of the tenancy) and the landlord did not return the deposit or apply for dispute resolution before the 15-day deadline.

Inspect the Rental Unit

A landlord and tenant must inspect the condition of the rental unit together at the end of the tenancy (a “walk through”) and complete a Condition Inspection Report. Comparing the move-in and move-out Condition Inspection Reports allows the landlord and tenant to determine if the rental unit was damaged and who is responsible for paying for repairs.

Interest on Deposit

The landlord must calculate the interest owing on the full amount of the security or pet damage deposit, before any deductions are made. The interest is calculated based on an interest rate set at the beginning of each year and is calculated from the date the tenant paid the deposit to the date it will be returned to the tenant.

Note:  the interest payable on deposits has been 0% since 2009.

Claims Against Deposits

Security deposits and pet damage deposits are not payments to the landlord – they’re a form of security that the landlord must be prepared to return at the end of the tenancy.

If a rental unit is damaged during the tenancy, the landlord can ask the tenant to allow the landlord to keep all or part of the deposit. Deposits cannot be used to cover normal wear and tear during the tenancy.

In order to keep some or all of a deposit, a landlord must have a completed Condition Inspection Report as well as one of the following:

  • The tenant’s written consent
  • An order from the Residential Tenancy Branch to keep all or part of the deposit
  • An order from a previous dispute resolution process which the tenant hasn’t yet paid

A landlord may ask to keep some of a deposit to cover:

  • Damage the tenant, guests or pets caused to the rental unit that is beyond normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent or bills
  • Changing the locks if the keys were not returned
  • Costs if the tenant moves out without giving proper notice

A landlord can keep all of a deposit if:

  • A tenant doesn’t provide a forwarding address in writing within one year of moving out
  • They have an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch that allows the landlord to keep the deposit

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

Manufactured home (mobile home) park tenancies that began after December 31, 2003, do not require a tenant to pay a security or pet damage deposit. For deposits paid before December 31, 2003, the landlord has 15 days to do one of the following after a tenant has moved out and given the landlord a forwarding address in writing:

  • Return the deposit with any interest to the tenant
  • Get the tenant’s written consent for any deductions and return the difference to the tenant
  • Apply for dispute resolution asking to keep all or some of a deposit

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page:  March 14, 2017.

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