Selling a Tenanted Property

When a landlord plans to sell a rental property, the tenancy continues. The landlord cannot end a tenancy because they want to sell a rental unit.

Showing the Property

The tenant has a legal right to peace and quiet while the tenancy continues. The landlord or their agent must provide written notice to the tenant or have their permission to enter and show the unit to prospective buyers or to conduct an open house.

The notice must provide the:

  • Reason for entering the rental unit
  • Date and time of entry – which  must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless the tenant agrees to another time

Ideally, a tenant and landlord can agree in writing on a schedule for viewing times. If not, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours written notice of each showing of the unit (these showings may be on the same day or on a reasonable number of other days).

When the landlord has given proper notice, they can show the rental unit even if the tenant isn’t home. A landlord can enter common areas of the property at any time without giving the tenant notice.

During showings of the rental unit, the landlord or the landlord’s agent is required to ensure the safety of the tenant’s possessions.  An arbitrator may find that the holding of an open house by the landlord's realtor is not a reasonable purpose if the landlord cannot ensure the safety of the tenant's possessions.

A tenant may refuse entry that’s unreasonable or unlawful.

Unreasonable entry could be all-day showings every Saturday for several weeks.  Unlawful entry could be where the landlord or the landlord’s agent has not provided proper notice of entry as set out above.

A tenant who believes the landlord has sought unreasonable or unlawful entry may make an Application for Dispute Resolution seeking to suspend or set conditions on the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit.  The Residential Tenancy Branch will schedule this application as an expedited hearing.

Landlords who believe a tenant has unreasonably refused access to show the rental unit can take steps to resolve the problem.

Tenant rights and responsibilities

When the landlord has given proper notice to enter the rental unit, the tenant must not prevent the landlord’s access (or access by the landlord’s agent).

The tenant, or a representative of the tenant, may be present at the time the rental unit is entered. The landlord cannot require that a tenant leave when the rental unit is shown.  Tenants who are concerned about their possessions may be present.

When a rental unit is being shown to prospective buyers or prospective tenants, the landlord or the landlord’s agent must be present.  Landlords cannot use a lock box without a tenant’s permission and the landlord or the landlord’s agent must still be present for all scheduled showings of the property.

Open Houses

A standard showing of a rental unit requires the landlord or the landlord’s agent (for example, a realtor) to accompany any prospective purchaser. With open houses, multiple prospective purchasers or agents may attend the property at the same time with varying levels of direct supervision by the landlord’s agent. Landlords should be aware of the tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment and avoid holding multiple open houses in a short period of time as these have the potential to be disruptive.

Ideally, the landlord, the landlord’s agent and the tenant can come to a mutual agreement on scheduling an open house. A written agreement between the landlord and the tenant outlining the terms and schedule of the open house is the best way to prevent or resolve any concerns.  If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the landlord may give the tenant a notice of entry which advises of the date and time the open house will be held.  If the tenant refuses entry to the landlord, or if the landlord schedules an unreasonable number of open houses, either party may choose to apply for dispute resolution as a last resort.

A tenant who believes the landlord’s has sought unreasonable or unlawful entry may make an Application for Dispute Resolution seeking to suspend or set conditions on the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit.  The Residential Tenancy Branch will schedule this application as an expedited hearing.

Landlords who believe a tenant has unreasonably refused access to show the rental unit can take steps to resolve the problem.

The tenant or the tenant’s agent may remain in the rental unit during the open house. Tenants who are not going to be present should ensure that they secure any valuables in the rental unit and restrain any pets. During showings of the rental unit, the landlord or the landlord’s agent is required to ensure the safety of the tenant’s possessions.  An arbitrator may find that the holding of an open house by the landlord's realtor is not a reasonable purpose if the landlord cannot ensure the safety of the tenant's possessions. If the tenant remains present, the tenant cannot interfere with the landlord’s legal right to seek a purchaser for the property. Interference in the landlord’s legal right to sell the property would include a tenant making comments about the landlord or the condition of the property. 

Uncooperative Tenants

If a tenant unreasonably refuses access to show the unit or provides misleading or inaccurate information to prospective buyers, the landlord could:

A tenant can choose to dispute a notice to end the tenancy by applying to the Residential Tenancy Branch for dispute resolution within the allotted dispute period of time. A tenant who doesn’t dispute a notice must move out by the effective date of the notice. The landlord may apply to for dispute resolution to request possession of the unit once the dispute period has passed.

When a Tenanted Property Has Been Sold

Once a property is sold, the buyer becomes the new landlord and the tenancy continues under the same terms. The buyer and the tenants don’t need to sign a new tenancy agreement, but may do so if they both agree.

The buyer must serve notice to end the tenancy in good faith if they plan to occupy the unit or use it for other purposes – the tenant has 15 days to dispute that notice.

Landlord's Use of Property

There are two ways a tenancy can be ended if, in good faith, the buyer plans to occupy the unit or use the property for another purpose:

  1. The buyer submits a written request to the seller to end the tenancy before taking possession of the property (service of notice cannot be a condition of sale). Then the seller (or existing landlord) gives the tenant a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy for Landlord’s Use of Property
  2. Once the buyer takes possession of the property, they can serve a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy for Landlord’s Use of Property

Unless a landlord (seller or buyer) serves a proper notice to end tenancy, the tenancy continues under the terms of the original tenancy agreement.

Occupy the unit: Once they take possession, a buyer can choose to live in the unit themselves, or have a close family member live there. That would mean the father, mother or child of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse – it doesn’t include the brother or sister of the landlord or the brother or sister of the landlord’s spouse. If a family corporation owns the rental unit, then a close family member would also include an individual who owns, or whose close family member owns, all the voting shares.

Use the unit for another purpose: The buyer can serve the tenant a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy after the title of the property has been transferred and all required permits and approvals are in place when the buyer intends to:

  • Demolish the rental unit or do major repairs or renovations that require the building or rental unit be empty
  • Convert the rental unit to a strata property unit, a non-profit co-operative or society, or a not-for-profit housing co-operative under the Cooperative Association Act
  • Convert the rental unit to non-residential use, such as a shop
  • Convert the rental unit into a caretaker’s unit

The Landlord Has Cause

After a landlord has served a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy, the tenant’s responsibilities under the agreement continue until the tenancy ends, which means:

Manufactured Home Park Tenancies

Landlords who plan to sell, convert or redevelop their manufactured home park may only serve a notice to end tenancy for landlord’s use of property when they:

Compensation

When serving a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy, the landlord must compensate the tenant with an amount equal to one month’s rent – paid on or before the effective date of the notice period. Compensation is owed even if the tenant gives notice to leave earlier. The tenant may choose to not pay rent in the last month of the tenancy instead of taking a payment from the landlord.

Security and Pet Damage Deposits

When a tenant moves out, the person who owns the property at the time is responsible for the tenant’s security deposit or pet deposit. This may make the buyer responsible for a tenant’s security deposit or pet damage deposit, even though the deposits were held in trust by the seller. The buyer and seller may wish to address the transfer of deposits in trust in their contract of sale or the closing settlement.

If the tenant owes money to the seller, it’s important that the parties to the sale – the buyer and seller – address these debts clearly in the contract of sale and purchase. Landlords should seek independent legal advice if they’re unsure how to do this.

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