News

Check out the latest Residential Tenancy Branch news items.

Changes to Fixed Term Tenancies (news release date: November 8, 2017)

On October 26, 2017, the B.C. government introduced changes to the Residential Tenancy Act related to the use of a vacate clause in fixed term tenancy agreements.  These changes are expected to come into effect and will apply to new and existing tenancy agreements.

A vacate clause requires a tenant to move out on the date the agreement ends.  Landlords will no longer be able to include a “vacate” clause in a fixed-term tenancy agreement except in certain circumstances.  These new rules will apply to both new and existing tenancy agreements.

The ministry has consulted with key stakeholders to identify under which circumstances a landlord will be permitted to use a vacate clause in a fixed-term tenancy agreement.  For example, a homeowner may need to rent out their home during an extended absence for work, school or travel but has firm plans to return on a particular date.

These circumstances will be identified in the Residential Tenancy Regulation.  The ministry will monitor the use of these provisions and may add new circumstances as necessary.

Except in limited circumstances, a vacate clause in an existing tenancy agreement will no longer be enforceable and the tenant will not be required to move out at the end of the term.

Unless the landlord and tenant agree to another fixed term, the tenancy will automatically convert to a periodic (month-to-month) tenancy.This type of tenancy continues until one party serves notice or they both agree to end the tenancy.

Rent may be increased once every 12 months.  Landlords must provide tenants with three full rental months’ notice of a rent increase using the approved form.  British Columbia’s annual allowable rent increase is two per cent plus inflation.  For 2018 this is 4%.

The changes to the use of vacate clauses in fixed-term tenancy agreements are expected to come into effect in the next few weeks.  If your tenancy agreement requires the tenant to move out after the end of November, you may want to have a discussion with your tenant or landlord regarding the intended use of the rental unit at the end of the fixed-term. 

If you are a tenant, you will not be required to move out at the end of the term unless you are in a sublease agreement, or the landlord meets the specific circumstances that will be identified in the Residential Tenancy Regulation.  It is expected that the initial circumstance will be where a homeowner may need to rent out their home during an extended absence for work, school or travel but has firm plans to return on a particular date.  

A tenant who wants to move out on the date originally agreed to in the tenancy agreement will need to provide one month written notice to the landlord.  The tenant and landlord may also agree to end the tenancy on the date originally identified as the end of the term.  A mutual agreement to end a tenancy (PDF) must be in writing and agreed to by both parties.

If you are a landlord and you intend to enforce the vacate clause under the specific circumstances identified in the Act or Regulation, you should advise your tenant.  If the tenant refuses to move out at the end of the term, you will need to apply for an order of possession through the Residential Tenancy Branch.  At the hearing, the onus will be on you to clearly demonstrate to the arbitrator how you meet the allowable circumstances. 

There are two situations involving existing fixed-term tenancy agreements where a vacate clause can still be enforced.  If, before the day the legislative amendments were introduced (October 26, 2017):

  1. A landlord, expecting their tenant to move out at the end of the term, has already entered into a tenancy agreement with a new tenant; or
  2. A landlord was granted an order of possession requiring a tenant to vacate the unit, but the possession order has not yet taken effect.

The Residential Tenancy Act is intended to protect both landlord and tenants.  There are options available through the Residential Tenancy Branch to help landlords deal with problem tenants.  It is important that both landlords and tenants know their rights and obligations under the Act.

Aside from removing the option to use a vacate clause, the rules around ending a tenancy have not changed.  For example, a tenant can end a tenancy by providing the landlord with at least one rental month written notice.  A Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator can order the end of a tenancy for a breach of a tenancy agreement by either party.  Landlords and tenants can mutually agree to end a tenancy, which must be documented in writing.  Landlords can also end a tenancy by serving the tenant one of the following notices to end tenancy:

The B.C. government is committed to doing more to protect renters in B.C.  It is important that tenants have the sense of security they deserve when signing a fixed-term rental lease.  By closing the so-called fixed-term lease loophole, landlords will no longer be able to bypass rent control.

 

2017 News Items

Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act were introduced in the Legislative Assembly on October 26, 2017.

These changes are focused in three key areas:

  • Addressing concerns about fixed term tenancies with vacate clauses in residential tenancies
  • Enhancing current provisions related to Administrative Penalties
  • Introducing a new expedited process for the return of security deposits in residential tenancies

As the legislation has just been introduced, staff are developing information on how these changes will affect landlords and tenants in BC. 

Try our new online application for dispute resolution!

  • Upload evidence online
  • Apply for a fee waiver online
  • Helpful email reminders and notifications
  • Helpful information along each step of the application
  • Mobile device friendly
  • Ability to resume an incomplete application
  • Improved look and intuitive design

Learn more now

Note: Applicants wanting to update online applications filed before September 25, 2017 must contact the Residential Tenancy Branch or visit any Service BC Office or Residential Tenancy Branch Office.

Landlords applying through the direct request process for an order of possession and monetary order for unpaid rent may now request recovery of the $100 application filing fee in the application.

 

Scheduled online application outage from September 22, 2017 5:00 p.m. to September 25, 2017 (news release date: September 22, 2017)

The Online Application for Dispute Resolution will be offline from 5:00 on Friday, September 22, 2017.  

During this outage, the Residential Tenancy Branch will be launching our new online application which you should see here soon.  

We hope to bring you the new online application by Monday, September 25, 2017, but if we have difficulties, we will ensure our standard online application is available on Monday.

Coming soon! An improved online application will be available in September. What’s new?

  • Upload evidence online
  • Apply for a fee waiver online
  • Helpful email reminders and notifications
  • Helpful information along each step of the application
  • Mobile device friendly
  • Ability to resume an incomplete application
  • Improved look and intuitive design
Residential tenancy rent increases that take effect in 2018 are allowed to a maximum of 4.0%.
Manufactured home park tenancy rent increases that take effect in 2018 are allowed to a maximum of 4.0% plus a proportional amount.

The Residential Tenancy Branch has published information and resources for landlords and tenants affected by the 2017 Wildfires.

 

Information session for landlords and tenants in Maple Ridge on Thursday, August 10th (news release date: August 2017)

The information session takes place as follows:

Date:              Thursday, August 10, 2017

Time:             6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Location:      Greg Moore Youth Centre, 11925 Haney Place, Maple Ridge

Get Directions

 

Change to Monetary Claims Limit (news release date: June 1, 2017)

As a result of the recent increase of monetary limit for claims under the Small Claims Act, the Residential Tenancy Branch may now hear disputes that involve a monetary claim of up to $35 000.00.  

The Residential Tenancy Branch adjudicates disputes between landlords and tenants that do not exceed the monetary limit for claims under the Small Claims Act. This authority is provided by section 51 of the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and section 58 of the Residential Tenancy Act.

The monetary limit for claims under the Small Claims Act is increased from $25 000.00 to $35 000.00, effective June 1, 2017.

The 2017 deposit interest rate is 0.0%.

The interest rate for deposits is set according to the Residential Tenancy regulation part 1, section 4.

Interest payable on security deposits and pet damage deposits

4 The rate of interest under section 38 (1) (c) of the Act [return of deposits] that is payable to a tenant on a security deposit or pet damage deposit is 4.5% below the prime lending rate of the principal banker to the Province on the first day of each calendar year, compounded annually.

The current prime lending rate of the principal banker to the Province is 2.70%.

 

2016 News Items

Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act allow landlords to return security and pet deposits electronically to tenants.
 
If a landlord returns a deposit to the tenant by electronic means, they can't charge the tenant a fee for doing so.
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Regulation (External Link) address concerns raised by landlords and tenants.  The changes provide a definition of transitional housing and give housing providers greater ability to ensure safety and security for tenants and staff.  The Regulation changes also allow for the continued and expanded use of rent-geared-to-income housing.
The specific Regulation changes are described below:
  • Section 1 (External Link) is amended to provide a definition of transitional housing that clarifies what kind of housing is considered “transitional” and therefore excluded from the Residential Tenancy Act’s jurisdiction.
  • Section 2 (External Link) is amended to allow existing rent-geared-to-income housing programs to continue after their operating agreements expire, and to allow new rent-geared-to-income housing to be operated under agreements with municipalities or districts.
  • Section 9 of the Schedule (External Link) is amended to support housing providers who serve at-risk populations by providing landlords the authority to make reasonable restrictions on guests’ use of common areas of rental property.  This change also addresses concerns raised by tenants.
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act allow for the early end to a fixed-term tenancy, commonly known as a lease, by a tenant who is fleeing family violence or who has been accepted into a long-term care facility. This will make it easier for tenants who fear for their or their children’s safety to end the fixed-term tenancy agreement, along with people eligible for, or accepted into, long-term care.
Residential tenancy rent increases that take effect in 2017 are allowed to a maximum of 3.7%.
Manufactured home park tenancy rent increases that take effect in 2017 are allowed to a maximum of 3.7% plus a proportional amount.
Policy Guideline 19: Assignment and Sublet was updated on July 22, 2016.  

The revised policy clarifies how the Residential Tenancy Act applies to sublets.  Roommates who have an agreement with a tenant, but not with the landlord, do not have recourse through the Residential Tenancy Branch as there is no contractual relationship between the roommate and the landlord. 
Tenancy agreements are an important tool to protect both landlords and tenants.

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: November 8, 2017.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch