Ending a Tenancy

Learn about ending a tenancy in B.C.

A tenancy ends when the:

  • Tenant or landlord gives legal notice to end the tenancy
  • Landlord and tenant mutually agree to end the tenancy (PDF)
  • Tenancy agreement is a sublease agreement that clearly states the subtenant will move out at the end of the term of the agreement
  • Tenancy agreement is a fixed term agreement that, in circumstances prescribed by Regulation, requires the tenant will move out at the end of the fixed term
  • Tenancy agreement is frustrated by circumstances beyond the landlord or tenant’s control
  • Tenant abandons the rental unit
  • Landlord has an order of possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB)

Giving Notice

Landlords and tenants are responsible for ending the tenancy lawfully, ensuring both parties have an opportunity participate in condition inspections and agree on any deposit deductions that may be required. Landlords or tenants can be ordered to pay money to each other if they don’t follow the law.

Fixed-term tenancies:  A fixed-term 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 tenancy for family violence or long-term care.

Fixed-Term Tenancies

A fixed-term tenancy agreement 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 tenancy for family violence or long-term care.

Effective December 11, 2017, fixed term tenancy agreements can no longer include a 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

The change in the law applies to new and existing tenancy agreements. That means that unless an existing fixed-term tenancy agreement is a sublease agreement or was established for a purpose prescribed in section 13.1 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, the “vacate clause” cannot be enforced by the landlord.  There are two exceptions to this:

  1. If the landlord was expecting the existing tenant to move out at the end of the term and the landlord had, prior to October 26, 2017, entered into a tenancy agreement with a new tenant; or
  2. If the landlord was granted an order of possession prior to October 26, 2017 and the order takes effect after December 11, 2017.

Doing it Right

After notice has been given, both landlords and tenants have specific responsibilities in order to end a tenancy properly – the tenant must move out by 1 p.m. on the effective date of the notice – the last day of the tenancy. This means the unit must be cleaned and all keys given to the landlord by then, unless the landlord agrees in writing to a later time.

A tenant who doesn’t move out on the effective date of a notice to end tenancy is called an overholding tenant. In these situations, the landlord may apply for an Order of Possession to end the tenancy and money to cover expenses – like accommodation or storage costs for an incoming tenant.

Find out more about each step of the process:

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: December 12, 2017.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch