Natural disasters and tenancies
Information for landlords and tenants impacted by natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods and landslides
Last updated: November 17, 2021
On this page:
- Contact information and important documents
- Paying rent while evacuated
- Assessing the damage
- Moving back in
- Resolving disputes during a disaster
- Travel accommodations and Single-Room Occupancy hotels
- I need help
Communicating with your landlord or tenant during a disaster
You may have trouble contacting your landlord or tenant while evacuated. Ask your landlord or tenant for another way to contact them, such as email, an agent, or another phone number.
Landlords must provide contact information
- Their address for service
- A phone number for themselves or their agents
- Written or posted emergency repair contact info
Bring important documents when you're evacuated
Pack your important tenancy documents in your evacuation kit:
- Tenancy agreement
- Tenant insurance policy
- Documentation and evidence for any upcoming dispute resolution proceeding
My landlord served me a 10-Day Notice to End Tenancy while I was evacuated
Landlords and tenants should communicate about when the tenant can return to the unit. Both parties should follow any orders not to enter the property.
My rental unit was destroyed
If you can’t keep living in the unit, take photos and video of the condition. Then, make an agreement in writing with your landlord that you are ending your tenancy because of the disaster. This is called 'frustrating' your tenancy.
Landlord must return rent and deposits
- You can’t come to an agreement
- The landlord does not return the rent or deposits
- The tenant has stopped paying rent
- Get compensation for the loss of their unit
- Get their rent reduced
- End the tenancy
My rental unit was damaged
Let the landlord know about the damage in writing.
Cleaning and repairs
Paying rent during repairs
Landlords and tenants should make a written agreement about rent payments during repairs.
If the landlord and tenant can’t come to an agreement, the tenant should keep paying rent.
- Be compensated for not being able to use the rental unit
- Get a temporary order to reduce rent
My landlord won't make repairs
- There is a problem
- You believe the problem breaches a material term of your tenancy agreement
- The deadline you've set for them to fix the problem
- You will end your tenancy if the problem isn't fixed by the deadline
A material term is a term that the parties both agree is so important that the most trivial
breach of that term gives the other party the right to end the agreement.
Removing fridges and freezers
Tenancy agreements must state the services and facilities included in the rent. They should say whether the landlord provides a refrigerator or freezer. After an evacuation, landlords should replace moldy or damaged refrigerators and freezers in a reasonable time.
- Replace the fridge or freezer in a reasonable amount of time
- Provide proper notice and a rent reduction
Tenants have to pay for alternate accommodations unless the tenancy agreement says otherwise.
My belongings were damaged
Accessing the unit
Changing the locks
- An order of possession
- Compensation for any damage or loss
Landlords entering rental units
- Explain the reason
- Give the date and time of the visit
- An order allowing them to enter without notice
- The tenant’s consent
The tenant does not need to be home when the landlord enters the unit.
Tenants can apply for dispute resolution if they believe the landlord entered their rental unit without notice.
I can't attend my hearing
If you can't attend your hearing due to a disaster, you can:
- Get the other party’s written consent to move the hearing
- Ask a friend or family member to go to the hearing for you and ask the arbitrator to change the date
- Ask the RTB to add a note to your file which you can use as evidence if you can't attend your hearing
I missed my hearing
If you missed your hearing due to a disaster, you can apply for review consideration. You must do so within the regular time limits. Time limits are based on when you receive the decision or order.
I don’t have the evidence I need
I need more time
Some deadlines are set by law and can't be changed.
For example, a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator may not extend the time limit to make an Application for Dispute Resolution to dispute a Notice to End Tenancy beyond the effective date of the notice, and may not extend the time limit for a tenant to pay overdue rent without the agreement of the landlord - unless the tenant has deducted the unpaid amount because the tenant believes that the deduction was allowed for emergency repairs or under an order of the Director of the BC Residential Tenancy Branch.
- In person
- By mail
- By leaving them in a noticeable place or mailbox
- By fax
- By email, if the other party has given an email address for serving documents
Applying for alternative service
- You couldn’t serve the documents using one of the available ways
- The other party is likely to get the documents the way you want to serve them
I didn’t get documents the other party said they served me
The Residential Tenancy Act may apply to hotel rooms and vacation rentals if the occupant:
- Lives there for a fixed term
- Lives there for a long term
- Is the only person occupying the rental
- Lives there as their main primary and permanent home
The RTA does not apply to vacation or travel accommodation being used for vacation or travel purposes. However, if it is rented under a tenancy agreement, e.g. a winter chalet
rented for a fixed term of 6 months, the RTA applies.