Changes to Tenancy Laws
When the Residential Tenancy Act and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and Regulation are amended it is important that landlords and tenants understand how these changes affect their rights and obligations.
COVID-19 Related Measures Act - Effective June 23, 20220
Government has introduced the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, legislation that will allow for the provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the pandemic to be formalized and unwound as appropriate after the provincial state of emergency ends.
Bill M206 - Effective May 29, 2020
A private members bill has gone into effect expanding the circumstances under which a fixed term tenancy could be ended early to include circumstances where a tenant or occupant of a rental unit was the victim of household violence. This means that a tenant could end a fixed term tenancy if they, an occupant or a dependent of either was the victim of violence that adversely affects a tenant or occupant’s quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being if they remain in the rental unit.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, 2020, after the provincial health officer declared a public health emergency on March 17. In addition, the Residential Tenancy Act was amended to support renters and landlords during the provincial state of emergency and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The amendments are in effect for the duration of the state of emergency.
Expedited Hearings - Effective May 24, 2019
Some applications for dispute resolution are very urgent and it would be unfair for the applicant to wait for a regular hearing. The Residential Tenancy Branch has an expedited hearing process for these applications.
The expedited hearing process is for emergency matters, where urgency and fairness necessitate shorter service and response time limits.
Expedited hearings are usually limited to applications for dispute resolution for:
an early end to tenancy
an order of possession for a tenant
The Residential Tenancy Branch automatically considers these application for an expedited hearing. Usually, the branch tries to schedule them for a hearing within 12 days from the date the application is made. In cases where there is evidence that violence has occurred, health and safety are severely jeopardized or there is a demonstrable immediate danger or threat, the branch may schedule it for a hearing within six days.
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act around growing and smoking cannabis are coming into force when cannabis is legalized under the federal Cannabis Act and section 14 of the provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act is brought into force October 17, 2018:
1. Existing “no-smoking” clauses will apply to cannabis smoking
If a tenancy agreement was entered into prior to the legalization of cannabis and had a “no-smoking” clause, it would include smoking cannabis (but not vapourizing cannabis) in the same way.
2. Existing tenancy agreements will be deemed to include a no-grow clause
All existing tenancy agreements are considered to include a term prohibiting growing cannabis (meaning to cultivate, propagate, or harvest) in or on the residential rental property, or the common areas of a manufactured home park and outdoor areas of a manufactured home site unless:
- the tenant is authorized under applicable federal law to grow medical marijuana, and
- the tenant is in compliance with the requirements under that law; or
- the tenancy agreement specifically allows growing;
With the legalization of recreational cannabis, landlords will be able to include terms in new agreements prohibiting growing and smoking. It is the landlords responsibility to ensure these prohibitions are clear in tenancy agreements.
The Residential Tenancy Act allows landlords and tenants to agree to terms in new tenancy agreements as long as they do not violate the Act.
The Act also allows landlords to evict tenants for cause. Cause includes things like:
- causing damage to the landlord's property;
- putting the landlord's property at significant risk.
Landlords must give four months' notice to end tenancy for demolition, renovation or repair, or conversion, and tenants have 30 days to dispute the notice,
- A landlord or purchaser if applicable must compensate a tenant 12 months’ rent (unless excused by an arbitrator in extenuating circumstances) if a landlord or purchaser ends a tenancy under section 49 (landlord use) and they don't:
- take steps to accomplish the stated purpose for ending the tenancy under section 49 within a reasonable period after the effective date of the notice, or
- use the rental unit for that stated purpose for at least 6 months beginning within a reasonable period after the effective date of the notice.
- A tenant has a right of first refusal to enter into a new tenancy agreement at a rent determined by the landlord if the landlord ends their tenancy to renovate or repair the rental unit. This right of first refusal applies only to a rental unit in a residential property containing 5 or more units.
- A landlord must compensate a tenant 12 months’ rent (unless excused by an arbitrator in extenuating circumstances) if the tenant exercises a right of first refusal and the landlord does not give the tenant:
- a 45 day notice of availability
- a tenancy agreement to sign.
- If a landlord is ending a tenancy on behalf of a purchaser, the notice must contain the purchaser’s name and address.
Questions and Answers
If I gave a two month notice to end tenancy for demolition, renovation or conversion on May 17 2018, is it valid?
No it is not. According to the Interpretation Act, amendments come into force at the beginning of the day of commencement. A two month notice can no longer be used to end a tenancy for demolition, renovation or conversion on or after May 17 2018.
You must issue a new four month notice to end tenancy.
If I received a two month notice to end tenancy for demolition, renovation or conversion on May 17 2018, what should I do?
If it was given for demolition, renovation or conversion on or after May 17 2018, the notice is not valid. You can contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information.
Why is compensation being increased?
To discourage landlords from using section 49 notices (landlord use) to wrongfully evict tenants – e.g., to rent to a new tenant at higher rent without accomplishing the purpose for ending the tenancy.
Why is the director allowed to excuse a landlord from paying compensation, and what are “extenuating circumstances”?
Landlords can end tenancies for landlord use if they are acting in good faith, i.e. they intend to accomplish the purpose for ending the tenancy, or use the rental unit for that purpose, and they meet any other requirements there are for the purpose they are ending the tenancy. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances prevent a landlord from doing so, through no fault of the landlord.
An example of an extenuating circumstance is a landlord who ended a tenancy to renovate or repair a rental unit, and the rental unit was accidentally destroyed by fire.
Why is the notice period being increased to 4 months and the dispute period to 30 days?
To give tenants more time to move, and to dispute a notice in low vacancy rental markets where evictions for demolition, renovation or conversion are happening frequently.
Why is the right of first refusal being included?
To give tenants the first chance to enter into a new tenancy agreement if their tenancy was ended for renovations.
Why is the right of first refusal not tied to rent control?
Government doesn’t want to discourage landlords from investing in their properties and performing necessary maintenance.
Why does a purchaser’s name and address need to be included if a landlord ends a tenancy on behalf of a purchaser?
So a tenant can apply for compensation from the purchaser, if the purchaser or their close family member does not move into the rental unit within a reasonable period.
Changes to the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act - Effective June 6, 2018:
There are new requirements when giving a 12 month notice to end tenancy under the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to convert all or a significant part of the manufactured home park to a non-residential use or a different residential use.
Effective June 6 2018:
- The tenancy will end 12 months after the notice is given, whether the tenancy is fixed term or periodic.
- A Tenant under a fixed term or periodic tenancy who has received a 12 month notice can end their tenancy early by giving the landlord 10 days’ written notice.
- A Landlord must compensate a tenant $20,000 on or before the effective date of the notice.
- A Tenant can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for additional compensation equal to the difference between the assessed value of the home and $20,000 if:
- They are not able to obtain the necessary permits, licenses, approvals or certificates required by law to move the manufactured home or
- The tenant is not able to move the manufactured home to another manufactured home site within a reasonable distance of the current manufactured home site; and
- The tenant does not owe any tax in relation to the manufactured home.
- A landlord may not claim reimbursement from the tenant for the costs of removing, storing, advertising or disposing of the manufactured home if the home cannot be moved in the above circumstances.
- A Landlord must compensate a tenant 12 months’ rent or $5000, whichever is greater, (unless excused by an arbitrator in extenuating circumstances) if a manufactured home park is closed to be converted for residential or non-residential use and
- steps have not been taken to accomplish the stated purpose for ending the tenancy under section 42 within a reasonable period after the effective date of the notice.
Questions and Answers
Why are these changes being made?
To compensate tenants for the costs of moving their home, and compensate them for the loss of their home if it cannot be moved.
To protect tenants from landlords seeking restitution for disposal costs of removing a tenant’s home that cannot be moved.
To deter landlords from ending tenancies to close or convert a park and not following through.
Why do the amendments base compensation on the assessed value rather than the appraised value?
BC Assessment produces independent, uniform and efficient property assessments on an annual basis for all property owners in the province.
Using the assessed value ensures transparency and fairness, so landlords can calculate the costs they may be facing if they choose to redevelop a park and tenants know how much they could receive.
It will also mean consistent decision making, because arbitrators won’t have to consider multiple valuations when making an order for additional compensation.
Why do the amendments allow landlords to end a fixed-term tenancy earlier than the end date if they give a notice to end a tenancy for landlord use?
If there was a fixed term tenancy, a landlord would technically have to wait until that tenancy ended before they could close a park.
One or two fixed-term tenancies could delay the closure of a park.
What will stop tenants from making no attempt to find a place to move the home to, or from sabotaging the home so it cannot be moved?
To get this compensation, tenants have to apply to Residential Tenancy Branch and prove they are not able to obtain the necessary permits, licenses, approvals or certificates required by law to move the manufactured home or they are not able to move the manufactured home to another manufactured home site within a reasonable distance of the current manufactured home site.
If a tenant sabotages their home, a landlord will have an opportunity to provide evidence to an arbitrator.
- Fixed term tenancy agreements can no longer include a vacate clause requiring a tenant to move out at the end of the term unless:
- The tenancy agreement is a sublease agreement; or
- The tenancy is a fixed term tenancy in circumstances prescribed in section 13.1 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation. This Regulation specifies situations where a landlord or landlord’s close family member plans in good faith to occupy the rental unit
- A rent increase for a tenant remaining in a rental unit is limited to the maximum annual allowable amount and can only be increased once every 12 months. Rent can no longer be increased above that amount between tenancy agreements with the same tenant.
- Landlords are no longer able to apply for an additional rent increase on the basis that the rent is significantly lower than other similar rental units in the same geographic area.
Questions and Answers
What about landlords who have been relying on fixed-term tenancy agreements to protect against bad tenants?
The Residential Tenancy Act is intended to protect both landlord and tenants. There are options available through the Residential Tenancy Branch to help landlords deal with problem tenants. It is important that both landlords and tenants know their rights and obligations under the Act.
How can a tenancy end without the vacate clause?
Aside from removing the option to use a vacate clause, the rules around ending a tenancy have not changed. For example, a tenant can end a tenancy by providing the landlord with at least one rental month written notice. A Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator can order the end of a tenancy for a breach of a tenancy agreement by either party. Landlords and tenants can mutually agree to end a tenancy, which must be documented in writing. A mutual agreement to end a tenancy(PDF) is recommended. Landlords can also end a tenancy by serving the tenant one of the following notices to end tenancy:
- 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy for unpaid rent or utilities
- One Month Notice to End Tenancy for cause or when the tenant’s employment has ended with the landlord (this applies when the rental unit is provided as a condition of employment).
- Two Month Notice to End Tenancy for landlord’s use or when the tenant no longer qualifies for the subsidized rental unit.
- Four Month Notice to End Tenancy for demolition, renovation or repair, or conversion to another use.
Why are you making these changes?
The B.C. government is committed to doing more to protect renters in B.C. It is important that tenants have the sense of security they deserve when signing a fixed-term rental lease. By closing the so-called fixed-term lease loophole, landlords will no longer be able to bypass rent control.
The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: June 24, 2020.