Four Month Notice to End Tenancy

A landlord can serve a tenant with a Four Month Notice to End Tenancy (PDF, 2.2MB) when the:

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Major Construction

Major construction means:

  • Demolishing the rental unit 
  • Converting the rental unit to a strata property unit, a not-for-profit housing co-operative or a caretaker’s unit
  • Converting the rental unit for non-residential use, such as a shop. People can occupy the unit, but it must no longer be a rental unit.

Major Renovations or Repairs

Major renovations or repairs are:

  • renovations or repairs that are so extensive the rental unit must be vacant in order for them to be carried out, and
  • the only manner to achieve that vacancy is by ending the tenancy.

Cosmetic renovations and repairs, like painting, changing light fixtures, replacing flooring and changing kitchen cabinets are not major renovations or repairs.

Major renovations or repairs could include:

  • Rewiring the rental unit
  • Making major alterations to the plumbing
  • Reconfiguring the rental unit in a way that requires walls to be removed.

Renovations or repairs should always be done without ending the tenancy, unless vacant possession of the rental unit is necessary to complete the renovations or repairs. For example, if the renovations require the unit to be vacant for a short period, the tenant could be relocated and later return to the unit at the same rent.

The landlord must have all required government permits and approvals in place before issuing the notice for any of the above reasons.

Doing it Right

A landlord must serve the Four Month Notice to End Tenancy so that it’s received:

  • At least four months before the effective date of the notice, and
  • Before the day that rent is due

For example, a notice given on March 15 would take effect on the last day of July.

To avoid disputes, both the landlord and tenant should be clear about when the tenant’s notice is effective – that is, which date they will move out and whether more rent will be paid.

By law, tenants must always be given the right amount of notice – even if the landlord uses an incorrect date. This correction can be made without having to go through the dispute resolution process. If you’re unsure about the effective date of a notice to end tenancy, please contact the Residential Tenancy Branch.

All Notices to End Tenancy have  multiple  pages – it’s only valid if the landlord serves all pages to the tenant. There are rules about how and when a landlord can serve notice – be sure to do it correctly:

Good Faith Requirement

A landlord must act in good faith if they plan to end a tenancy to do major construction or major renovations or repairs.

That means the landlord has honest intentions and no ulterior motive to take advantage of a situation. The landlord must honestly intend to use the rental site for the purposes stated on the notice to end the tenancy.

Right of First Refusal

When a landlord gives notice to end tenancy for major repairs or renovation in a rental building with 5 or more rental units, the tenant has a right of first refusal . To exercise the right, the tenant must give the landlord a Tenant Notice: Exercising Right of First Refusal form before they vacate the rental unit. 

When a tenant exercises their right of first refusal, the landlord, at least 45 days before the completion of the renovations or repairs a tenancy agreement to commence effective on that availability date, has to give the tenant:

If the tenant does not enter into a tenancy agreement for the rental unit that has undergone the renovations or repairs on or before the availability date, the tenant has no further rights in respect of the rental unit.

If a tenant has given a Tenant Notice: Exercising Right of First Refusal the landlord must pay the tenant an amount that is the equivalent of 12 times the monthly rent payable under the previous tenancy agreement if the landlord does not comply with the above requirements (except if extenuating circumstances prevented the landlord from complying).

Compensation

When a landlord ends a tenancy for landlord’s use of property or to do major construction, the landlord must give the tenant the equivalent of one month’s rent on or before the effective date of the landlord's notice. This is true even if the tenant pays rent for the last month.

The tenant must pay the rent for all or any part of the time they stay during the notice period; though, they may choose to keep the last month’s rent in lieu of compensation.

If the tenant is in a month-to-month tenancy,  has already paid the last month’s rent and chooses to give 10 days’ written notice to leave before the effective date of the notice, the landlord must pay the tenant a pro-rated amount in addition to the required compensation equal to one-month’s rent. The pro-rated amount is calculated on a daily basis.

To clarify, here are some examples of common situations in which compensation under a Four Month Notice to End Tenancy may be settled:

  1. The tenant receives notice on July 31st, pays rent August 1st and stays for the full four month period, withholding November’s rent. The compensation is taken as a free final month
  2. The tenant receives notice on July 31st, pays rent August 1st and hands the landlord 10 days’ written notice on August 1st to leave by August 11th. On or before the effective date of the notice (in this case, November 30th), the landlord pays the tenant compensation equal to one month’s rent plus the balance of the rent the tenant paid for August (in this case 20 days)
  3. The tenant receives notice on July 31st, pays rent August 1st and hands the landlord 10 days’ written notice on August 25th to leave by September 4th. In this case, on or before November 30th, the landlord would pay the tenant an amount equal to 26 days’ rent, the balance of the compensation owed under the notice

Fixed-term tenancies: Neither party in a fixed-term agreement (or lease) can end the tenancy early. 

The landlord must:

  • Use an effective date that is on or after the date the fixed term ends
  • Pay the tenant compensation equal to one month’s rent on or before the effective date of the notice

Additional Compensation: 12 Months' Rent

Landlords should beware that when they end a tenancy, they must:

  • 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,

If they don't, they must compensate the tenant 12 months’ rent payable under the tenancy agreement. If a former tenant applies for compensation, a landlord should be prepared to show that the rental unit was used for the reasons given in the notice, or the reason they were not able to use the rental unit for the reasons given in the notice. An arbitrator can excuse a landlord from paying this compensation if there are extenuating circumstances.

Move Out Date

A tenant who does not dispute the four month notice within thirty days of receiving it must move out on or before 1 p.m. on the effective date of the notice.

Month-to-month tenancies: A tenant can leave earlier than the effective date by giving the landlord at least 10 days’ written notice and paying the rent up to and including, the planned move-out date. Where the tenant has already paid a full month’s rent, the landlord must refund the remainder of the rent. In addition, the landlord must pay any remaining amount of the compensation.

Fixed-term tenancies: The tenant cannot be required to move out before the end of the fixed term as stated in the tenancy agreement.

Disputing a Notice to End Tenancy

Because legal notice has been served, tenants who disagree with a four month notice to end tenancy need to apply for dispute resolution – writing a letter or talking to the landlord isn’t enough. Within 30 days of receiving the notice, submit the Tenant’s Application for Dispute Resolution (PDF) to the Residential Tenancy Branch along with a copy of the Notice to End Tenancy.

If a tenant disputes a notice by the 30-day deadline, the notice is suspended until an arbitrator makes a decision. A tenant must move out within four months of receiving the notice if they do not dispute it.

When a landlord has served a notice to end tenancy, and the tenant has disputed the notice, the landlord continues to be entitled to payment of rent or payment for use and occupancy while awaiting resolution of the dispute.

The landlord also continues to be entitled to payment for use and occupancy when a tenant does not move out by the effective date of a notice to end tenancy that the tenant has not disputed.  In this case, the landlord may apply for dispute resolution seeking an order of possession and accept payment for use and occupancy while awaiting dispute resolution.

When accepting payment for use and occupancy, the landlord should state in writing that:

  • The payment for rent or utilities is being accepted for use and occupancy only – it does not cancel the notice to end tenancy
  • The tenant must still move out

Note: The “use and occupancy” arrangement is short-term—it allows use and occupancy only for the period of the payment and does not reinstate the tenancy.  If, in a dispute resolution hearing, a party claims that tenancy has been reinstated, an arbitrator will consider all the circumstances including the intent of both parties when exchanging payment.

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: May 17, 2018.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch