Paying rent

Last updated on December 7, 2023

Before a tenancy, the landlord and tenant negotiate the rent amount and agree on what additional services (e.g., utilities, parking) are included. Landlords are responsible for preparing a written tenancy agreement outlining these terms. 

Tenants must pay their full rent on time as required in their tenancy agreement.

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Tenants must pay rent on time

Tenants must follow the rent requirements in the tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement must clearly show: 

  • The rent amount 
  • The rent due date 
  • The preferred payment method 
  • Services included or additional fees 

Landlords can issue a 10-day eviction notice even if tenants are only 1 day late or do not pay the full rent amount. 

Tenants must pay their rent even if there are any ongoing issues with their landlord, such as an incomplete repair. Rent can only be withheld if the tenant has an official order from a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) arbitrator or in other limited circumstances

Paying rent on a different day 

Landlords may agree to accept a rent payment later than the normal due date but are not required to. If a tenant thinks they may need to pay their rent on a different day than they normally do, they should talk to their landlord before rent is due. 

Any agreement to change a rent payment should be made in writing and tenants should make sure they are not regularly making late rent payments

Keeping records 

Landlords and tenants should keep their records of rent payments. Tenants who make rent payments in cash should get a receipt from their landlord.

Paying utilities and fees 

The tenancy agreement should clearly say how utilities will be paid and who will pay them. Tenants living in shared housing may need to decide how to fairly split utility and other costs.

Roommate agreements can help reduce conflicts about utilities and fees.

If rent is not paid

If a tenant has not paid rent or other fees (e.g., electricity, water, heat), landlords should attempt to discuss the issue with the tenant. Giving the tenant an opportunity to address the unpaid rent or utility bill can help to resolve the issue. Both the landlord and the tenant should document the outcome of the conversation.  

If the tenant does not pay what they owe after a discussion with the landlord, landlords can take steps to end the tenancy. Landlords can evict tenants at any time of the year, even during the winter.  

Tenants who are having trouble paying their rent may be eligible for rent assistance

Late rent payments

Landlords can issue a 10-day eviction notice even if tenants are only 1 day late or do not pay the full rent amount. 

Landlords can end a tenancy over repeated late rent payments. If the tenant is late paying rent at least 3 separate times, the landlord can give a 1 month notice to end tenancy. 

Late rent fee 

If rent is late, landlords are allowed to charge a non-refundable late rent fee, but only if this is clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. The maximum amount a landlord can charge as a late rent fee is $25. 

Tenants can dispute late rent fees above $25

Tenants who believe their landlord is charging a late rent fee that is too high should: 

  1. Review their tenancy agreement to see if the fee is clearly stated and within the legal limit 
  2. Tell the landlord about the rules for late fees if the fee is above the legal limit or not in the agreement,
  3. Apply for dispute resolution if the issue is not resolved through communication. Dispute resolution is a process to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants.

Increasing rent 

Landlords can only increase rent if they provide tenants with at least 3 full months notice. Rent can only be increased once every 12 months and any increase must be within the yearly rent increase limit outlined by the Residential Tenancy Branch. 

Tenants must pay the increased rent, unless the increase is unlawful. Rent increases are regulated by the Residential Tenancy Act  

Reducing rent

Landlords may agree to reduce rent. Any changes to rent must be made in writing.

Tenants may be eligible for a rent reduction as ordered by an arbitrator through the dispute resolution process. Landlords can prevent the need for rent reduction by: 

Tenants must always pay their full rent unless ordered by a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator.

Tenant rights and responsibilities 

Paying rent on time and in full

Tenants must pay their full rent on time according to the terms in their tenancy agreement. 

Exclusive use of a safe and livable rental unit

When tenants pay rent, they have the right to exclusively possess and live in a rental unit. No matter how much rent they pay, tenants are entitled to a safe and livable rental unit

Fair and respectful treatment

Tenants have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully by their landlord. Landlords cannot intimidate, threaten or discriminate against tenants based on factors such as:

  • Race 
  • Religion 
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation 

Landlord role and responsibilities 

Rental property must meet basic health and safety standards

Landlords must ensure that the property meets basic health and safety standards. This includes providing plumbing and electricity, as well as maintaining the rental building. 

Landlords can't restrict access to personal belongings 

If tenants are behind on rent, landlords must get a court order before removing personal belongings from the unit or restricting access to it. If the landlord believes tenants have abandoned the property, they must follow the proper procedure before removing or throwing anything away. 

Resources for tenants

Rent assistance programs

BC Housing Rental Assistance Programs

  • BC Housing offers several rental assistance programs for eligible tenants

Canada-BC Housing Benefit (CBCHB) Program

  • The CBCHB helps make rent more affordable for tenants who do not quality for other rental assistance programs

BC Rent Bank

  • A rent bank is a housing stability resource that offers financial assistance and advice to help renters with low-to-moderate incomes. 

Additional information

Tenant Resources & Advisory Centre (TRAC)

  • TRAC is a non-profit offering information, education and support to residential tenants in B.C.

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

  • CMHC is a federal agency that provides resources and information on housing in Canada

Information sheets 

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