Landlord access to rental units

Last updated on December 7, 2023

Landlords can access rental units in certain situations. Tenants should be aware of situations where the landlord will be accessing the unit. 

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Landlords can access a unit with proper notice  

To access a rental unit landlords must provide tenants with written notice. This notice must be provided at least 24 hours, but not more than 30 days, before entry. 

The written notice must state: 

  • The date of entry 
  • The time of entry (must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.)
  • A reason for entry 

Landlords must also provide notice for an authorized third party, such as the landlord's agent, to enter on the landlord's behalf. Additionally, landlords may enter any common areas that are shared with others, like hallways or courtyards, without notice. 

If the tenant is at home, they can verbally agree to let the landlord inside. However, tenants are not required to do so without written notice. 

Landlords must provide a reasonable purpose for entry 

The purpose for entering a rental unit must be reasonable. Common reasons include: 

The tenant doesn’t need to be present for the landlord to enter as long as proper notice was provided.

Situations where landlords can enter rental units without notice 

A landlord can enter a unit without notice in some situations.

Entering in emergencies

A landlord can enter the rental unit without written notice or permission if there is an emergency and entry is necessary to protect life or property. 

Entering with an order 

A landlord can enter a rental unit if they have a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator's order or a court order.

Abandoned rental units

Landlords can enter the rental unit if it has been abandoned by the tenant. 

Locks and tenant access  

Landlords can't lock a tenant out of a rental unit, even during an eviction

If a landlord locks a tenant out of their rental unit, they can contact:

Learn more about illegal lockouts

Tenant rights and responsibilities 

Landlords can't make tenants leave during entry 

Tenants have the right to be present or have a representative present when a landlord enters the rental unit. A landlord cannot force tenants to leave when they enter the unit.

Tenants can dispute unlawful access 

Landlords must always follow the proper process for entry into a rental unit. If a landlord enters illegally, tenants can take these immediate steps:

  • Ask the landlord to leave 
  • Remind the landlord to follow entry procedures, including providing proper notice  
  • Document the incident by making note of the date, time and details of the unlawful entry 

If the issue continues, tenants can seek dispute resolutionDispute resolution is a process to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants. 

Protecting tenants' right to quiet enjoyment 

Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment. This means that they can enjoy the rental unit peacefully without interference. Unlawful landlord access can breach a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment. 

Seeking dispute resolution for lock and key changes  

After winning a dispute resolution case, tenants may be allowed to change their unit's locks and keep the only keys. However, the tenant must return the keys to the landlord after moving out. 

Tenants must allow proper landlord access 

When a landlord has given proper notice to enter the rental unit access must be allowed. 

Landlord responsibilities 

Lawful entry helps reduce conflict. Landlords have a duty to ensure they enter a rental unit lawfully by providing written notice before entering and only entering without notice in specific circumstances

Tenants can be present when a landlord enters a rental unit

Tenants have the right to be present when their landlord enters the rental unit. Landlords can't ask them to leave when the rental unit is being shown. 

Landlords must be present when showing the unit 

If the landlord is scheduling an entry to the unit to show it to prospective buyers or tenants, the landlord or their agent must be present. 

Policy guidelines

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