Moving out of rental units

Last updated on December 7, 2023

There can be a lot to think about when moving out of a rental unit. Make sure to consider all legal rights and responsibilities when ending a tenancy.

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Giving notice 

If a tenant doesn’t serve proper notice or leaves a tenancy early, they may be required to pay compensation if the landlord loses money.

Cleaning the rental 

It is the tenant's responsibility to clean the rental unit when moving out.

The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Policy Guideline - Landlord & Tenant Responsibility for Residential Premises (PDF, 241KB) gives an overview of the responsibilities for cleaning a rental unit. The tenant pays cleaning costs if the property's condition is not clean when moving out. The tenant is also generally required to pay to repair damages. Make sure to review the policy and learn the cleaning expectations. 

The tenant is not responsible for reasonable wear and tear to the rental unit or site. Reasonable wear and tear refers to natural deterioration that occurs due to aging and other natural forces, where the tenant has reasonably used the premises.

Condition inspections 

At the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord and tenant should walk through the unit and complete a move-in condition report. The RTB provides a Condition Inspection Report Template (PDF, 1.3MB) - RTB Form 27 for landlords and tenants to use, but landlords can decide to use their own form. The process for the move-out condition inspection is the same as the move-in. 

The tenant and landlord should complete the condition inspection together

The landlord should propose 2 meeting times to complete the inspection with the tenant. This is a chance to document and take photos of the condition of the rental since move-in.

  • If the tenant does not participate in the landlord's request for a move-out condition inspection, the tenant may lose the right to have your damage or pet deposits returned
  • If a landlord fails to meet for a condition inspection report, the landlord may lose the right to collect damage or pet deposits

If a tenant is moving out and is one of multiple roommates listed on the agreement, they will not get their deposit back until everyone moves out and the inspection is completed.

Damage to the rental unit

If there is damage to the unit, the landlord can apply for dispute resolution to determine the cost of repairs. If there is extensive damage to the unit, the landlord can apply for a monetary order

  • Learn more about what is considered the landlord's responsibility to fix, and what can be claimed from the damage deposit in repairs and maintenance

If there are no damages and the landlord has not given the damage deposit back to the tenant after 15 days, the tenant can apply for a direct request


Deposits and post-dated cheques

The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) outlines two types of deposits: security deposits and pet damage deposits.

The tenant should give the landlord their new mailing address, in writing, where the damage deposits can be sent following the move-out condition inspection.

Security deposits

A security deposit secures the tenancy for the tenant and landlord and is sometimes called a damage deposit. It is a set amount of money the landlord collects at the start of the tenancy. According to RTA: Section 19(1), the largest amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit is half the monthly rent.

Getting back a security deposit 

  1. Tenant provides forwarding address
    • When a tenancy ends, the tenant must give the landlord their forwarding address in writing where the deposit can be sent. 
    • This usually happens just before or right after the tenant moves out, but the tenant can provide their forwarding address within one year of when the tenancy ends 
  2. Once the landlord has received the tenant's forwarding address, they have 15 days to return the deposit(s) with any interest to the tenant if there are no issues. 

    • Landlords can't charge tenants a fee for returning the deposit. Ways to return the deposit include: 

      • Electronically
      • In person 
      • By mail
      • Leaving it in the mailbox or mail slot at the tenant's new residence

Learn about situations where the landlord can keep a security or pet deposit.

If the landlord doesn't respond within 15 days

If the landlord doesn't take any actions within the 15-day timeline, the tenant can:

  • Make a direct request application requesting that their landlord returns the deposit 
  • The landlord may be ordered to pay the tenant double the amount of the deposit(s).  ​

A tenant can submit a direct request application 20 days after the tenancy has ended and the tenant gives the landlord their forwarding address.

Pet deposits

If the rental agreement allows pets, some landlords may also ask for a pet deposit. RTA: Section 19(1) states the most a landlord can charge for a pet deposit is half the monthly rent, no matter how many pets are allowed.

Tenants must repair any damage caused by a pet before they move out. If not, the landlord may keep all or part of their pet damage deposit and/or the landlord can apply for dispute resolution requesting their deposit backA landlord can also request an order for the tenant to pay extra costs if the amount of the pet damage deposit isn’t enough to cover the damage.

Deposit interest

When a tenancy ends, there may be interest payable on the tenant's security or pet damage deposit. The landlord must calculate and consider any interest owed to the tenant on the full amount of the security or pet damage deposit before returning the deposit, asking the tenant to agree in writing to any deductions, or applying for dispute resolution.

Interest is calculated based on the rate set at the beginning of each year. Interest is compounded on the anniversary of the date the deposit was received by the landlord.

Post-dated cheques

The Residential Tenancy Regulation section 5(4) of the schedule states the landlord must return any post-dated cheques to the tenant before the last day of the tenancy.

Changing your mind about ending a tenancy

It’s okay if a landlord and tenant change their minds about ending a tenancy – as long as they both agree to it in writing. The tenancy then continues under the same terms.

A tenant who continues to occupy a rental unit after the tenancy has ended is called an overholding tenant. When the tenant overholds, the landlord is entitled to payment for use and occupancy. In this case, the landlord may apply for dispute resolution seeking an order of possession, and accept payment for use and occupancy while awaiting the resolution. 

Use and occupancy is a short-term arrangement. It allows use and occupancy only for the period of the payment and does not reinstate the tenancy.  

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

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.

Compensation for eviction

Landlords must act in good faith and follow through with the reason for eviction. If the rental unit is not used for the stated purpose for at least six months, a landlord may owe an evicted tenant compensation.

If you are being evicted because you no longer qualify for your subsidized rental unit, you are not entitled to any compensation. See RTA: Section 51 for more information and how to pay the tenant.

Examples of when the landlord would owe the tenant compensation:

  • A tenant who receives a 2 month or 4 month notice to end a tenancy for landlord use is entitled to one month's rent as compensation to help with the financial burden of moving. The landlord must either pay the tenant this money or not charge them for the last month's rent
  • Including a vacate clause in a fixed-term tenancy agreement in a prescribed circumstance
  • Being granted an order to end a tenancy for renovations or repairs when the tenant exercises a right of first refusal (Section 51.2 of the RTA)

Paying compensation to the landlord

If a landlord has applied for dispute resolution and asked for a monetary order, the tenant may have to pay compensation to the landlord. According to Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 16 - Compensation for Damage or Loss (PDF, 307KB) the purpose of compensation is to put the person who suffered the damage or loss in the same position as if the damage or loss had not occurred.



Condition Inspections

Information about condition inspections for residential tenancies in British Columbia.


Tenancy Deposits

Get information on security deposits and pet damage deposits in British Columbia.


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