Tenancy Agreements

Landlords are required to prepare a written agreement for every tenancy. Even if a landlord doesn’t prepare one, the standard terms of a tenancy agreement still apply. Also, paying a security deposit establishes a tenancy, even if there is no written tenancy agreement and if the tenant never moves in.

Both landlords and tenants must sign and date the agreement. Landlords need to provide a printed copy to their tenants within 21 days of entering into the agreement.

Important Information for Tenants

If your agreement is not with the landlord, you will not have protection under the Residential Tenancy Act.  This is common when an existing tenant allows a roommate to move in without getting the landlord’s agreement to add that person to the tenancy agreement.

What Must Be Included

All tenancy agreements need to include standard terms that protect landlords and tenants and ensure that tenancy agreements are fair and balanced. These terms even apply when there is no written tenancy agreement.

Some tenancy terms are negotiated between the tenant and landlord:

  • Who the agreement is between: Include the full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s). People not named in the agreement might not have any rights
  • Length of the tenancy:
    • Fixed-term - A tenancy set for a specific period of time (e.g. a year, a month or a week). The tenancy cannot be ended earlier than the date fixed except in three circumstances:  both parties agree in writing;   there are special circumstances such as the tenant is fleeing family violence or the tenant has been assessed as requiring long-term care or has been accepted into a long-term care facility; or as ordered by an arbitrator.  Learn more about ending a fixed-term for family violence or long-term care.

      A “move out” clause can be included requiring the tenant to move out on the date the agreement ends – both parties must have their initials next to this term in order for this to be enforceable. If the agreement doesn’t say what happens at the end of the term, the tenancy continues on a month-to-month basis and the tenant doesn’t have to move out or sign a new fixed-term agreement
    • Periodic - A tenancy with no specified end date – it continues until the landlord or tenant serve notice or both decide to end the tenancy. For example, a month-to-month tenancy
  • Rent: Clearly specify how much the rent is and when it’s due. It should also be clear what’s included in the rent – for example, if utilities, laundry or cable are included; or whether there are other refundable or non-refundable fees payable, such as late fees. Essential services such as heat, electricity and hot water must be provided, but the agreement may say that the tenant pays for these
  • Deposits: Indicate what deposits are required and when they are due. Only one security deposit and one pet damage deposit can be requested per unit – each one should be no more than half of one month’s rent. Manufactured home park landlords cannot ask for deposits
  • Pets: Indicate whether there are any pet restrictions

In addition to the above, there are standard terms defined by law that set out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. They include rental increases, the landlord’s access to a unit, repairs and subletting.

Be sure to include all standard terms in the tenancy agreement by using these forms:

Additional Terms

Many landlords also include additional terms for things like pets, smoking or late-payment fees. These are generally binding if the tenant agrees to them and they do not contradict the Residential Tenancy Act or Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.

Additional occupants: The agreement may include a term restricting the number of occupants in a rental unit, or a term requiring the landlord’s permission before additional occupants can live in the rental unit.  A landlord can only increase the rent in response to additional occupants if the tenancy 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.  

An additional term that is unclear or seems to grossly favour one party might not be enforceable. If you have questions Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Tenancy Agreements for Manufactured Home Sites

In a mobile home park, many tenants own their manufactured home and only rent the site that it sits on. In these cases, landlords are required to give a written copy of manufactured home park rules (if there are any) before signing the tenancy agreement. It’s a good idea for the landlord and tenant to review the rules before signing the agreement.

Another tenancy agreement with different terms is used for manufactured home parks (unless a tenant is renting the manufactured home itself – then the standard residential tenancy agreement applies).

Video: Manufactured Home Park Tenacies

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: September 23, 2017.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch