Compliance and Enforcement
Landlords and renters in British Columbia are expected to comply with tenancy laws and with orders of the Residential Tenancy Branch. Those who choose not to comply can face significant monetary penalties.
When problems occur during a tenancy, there are numerous steps that can be taken to try Solving Problems including talking about it with your landlord or renter. The best results come from taking the time to discuss a problem and explore options suitable for both parties.
It is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord or a renter. This includes understanding B.C.'s tenancy laws and rules. The Residential Tenancy Branch can provide information to help with this. Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch.
Landlords and renters can apply for dispute resolution if they can’t resolve a problem related to their tenancy. Dispute resolution is the formal process for resolving disputes between landlords and renters – it’s similar to a court proceeding. The decision made after a dispute resolution hearing is final and binding.
After a hearing decision is made, the Residential Tenancy Branch will provide copies of signed, original orders to the successful party – they are enforceable in the Provincial Court of British Columbia (Small Claims) or the Supreme Court of British Columbia. See Serving and Enforcing Orders.
The Residential Tenancy Act and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act provide a variety of ways violation under these laws can be addressed. If a landlord or renter doesn’t voluntarily comply with their obligations, steps can be taken in a progressive and incremental manner depending on the severity, depth or repetitive nature of the violation. These include:
- Education and information
- The Residential Tenancy Branch works with landlords and renters to educate them on their responsibilities under the law and how to do the right thing.
- Dispute resolution
- Landlords and renters can apply for dispute resolution if they can’t resolve a problem related to their tenancy. Dispute resolution hearings are between a landlord and a renter.The decision made after a dispute resolution hearing is final and binding.
- Investigation powers
- The Compliance and Enforcement Unit has the authority to conduct investigations to determine compliance with tenancy laws.
- Early intervention
- The Residential Tenancy Branch may contact the subject of the complaint by phone to advise them of their responsibilities under legislation and the consequences of non-compliance.
- Warning letters
- The warning will indicate what corrective measures the landlord or renter must take to fix the problem and the consequences of not following this direction.
- Administrative penalties
- Administrative penalties are financial penalties that the Residential Tenancy Branch may impose when other available avenues to achieve compliance have been exhausted.
- Administrative penalty matters are between the provincial government and the person who is thought to have broken the law or failed to comply with decisions or orders. Any penalties ordered are payable to government, not to the party in a dispute.
- Refuse service
- The Residential Tenancy Branch may refuse to accept an application for further dispute resolution if an outstanding administrative penalty is owed.
- Publish decision
- The Residential Tenancy Branch may make administrative penalties information available to the public. Published information may include the name and address of the person or business the penalty has been issued to, the nature of the contravention, the amount of the penalty and the status of the penalty payment.
The Residential Tenancy Branch has established a Compliance and Enforcement Unit to conduct investigations of repeated or serious non-compliance with tenancy laws or orders of the Residential Tenancy Branch, issue warnings to ensure compliance and if necessary, administer monetary penalties.
The unit is not an alternative to the branch’s information and dispute resolution services nor as an alternative way to enforce orders through the courts.
Complaints may be submitted for consideration of an investigation only when all attempts to resolve the matter have been made through the Residential Tenancy Branch dispute resolution service and have not resulted in compliance.
The unit will assess complaints based on repeat and serious contraventions of the law or failure to comply with orders. The first step will most often be educating and informing the parties as to what their responsibilities are. For continued non-compliance, fines of up to $5000 per day may be levied.
The Compliance and Enforcement Unit is a public body whose primary purpose is tenancy law enforcement, and, as such, works closely with local government compliance units and other public bodies that conduct law enforcement, including police, to ensure the rights of all landlords and renters are protected.
Examples of matters that the unit investigates:
- Renters repeatedly not paying rent
- Landlords repeatedly attempting to evict renters illegally
- Refusal to complete health and safety repairs; and
- Illegal rent increases
When a landlord or renter files a complaint with the Compliance and Enforcement Unit, the unit may follow these steps, depending on the situation:
- Confirm that the complaint relates to a contravention of tenancy laws.
- If the complaint is related to a contravention of a repeated or serious nature, a Compliance Officer may contact the subject of the complaint and explain their rights and responsibilities under the Act. A verbal warning may be issued to encourage compliance. The Compliance Officer will explain the potential consequences for not following the law. The Compliance Officer will open a file and may monitor the situation to ensure that the party complies with the warning. If compliance is not achieved the Party could face an immediate financial penalty for every day the contravention continues.
- If the complaint does not relate to a contravention or if the matter can be addressed through involvement of Residential Tenancy Branch information services or dispute resolution services, the unit will not take further action.
- Refer the complaint for investigation
- Depending on the severity of the contravention, if other interventions have not resulted in compliance, an Investigator may be assigned to the complaint.
- A file will be opened and an investigation commenced.
- The Investigator may contact the parties involved, examine the history of compliance, consult with other agencies including law enforcement, collect evidence, issue warning letters, compel the parties to produce any documents in relation to the investigation and, if necessary, recommend consideration of administrative financial penalties.
- Opportunity to be heard
- Before administrative financial penalties are applied, in all cases the unit will consider the seriousness of the infraction, how often it happened, what efforts were made to correct it and any financial benefit gained from the infraction.
- Those facing administrative financial penalties will have an opportunity to review evidence against them and respond before a decision is made.
How to file a complaint
Before submitting a complaint to the Compliance and Enforcement Unit, ensure you have exercised all other existing options for compliance including contacting Residential Tenancy Branch information services, applying for dispute resolution or applying to the courts for enforcement of orders.
Complete a Complaint Form and send it in to the unit. We do not take anonymous complaints nor inform the public about whether or not an investigation will be conducted.
The Residential Tenancy Act and the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act allow for the levying administrative monetary penalties when a landlord or renter has contravened a provision of the one of the Acts, the regulations to these Acts, or the landlord or renter has failed to comply with a decision or order of the Residential Tenancy Branch.
The legislation allows a monetary penalty of up to $5,000. If the contravention occurs or continues over more than one day, that amount may be imposed for each day the contravention continues.
Administrative penalties are issued to promote compliance, and consideration is given to whether continuing application of the penalty will result in earlier compliance. The person’s compliance history and the seriousness of the contravention are also taken into account when determining a one-time or continuing penalty.
Prior to being ordered to pay an administrative penalty, the person who is the subject of an investigation will be provided with an opportunity to be heard. This will typically be in the form of a written submission due 21 days after being served with a notice from the unit. The notice will outline the alleged contravention or failure to comply, all evidence which supports the allegation and the time-frame for responding. Failure to provide submissions or failure to appear when required by the notice will be considered a voluntary waiver of their right to be heard and the branch may proceed with levying an administrative penalty.
Should an administrative penalty be imposed, the person will be served with a notice of administrative penalty in the form of a decision and order that will specify the contravention or failure to which the penalty relates, the amount of the penalty and the date by which the penalty must be paid.
An administrative penalty is a debt due to government and must be paid within 60 days. Failure to pay will result in collection action being taken. In addition, the Residential Tenancy Branch may refuse to accept an application for dispute resolution if an outstanding administrative penalty is owed.
The Residential Tenancy Branch may also make administrative penalties information available to the public. Published information may include the name and address of the person or business the penalty has been issued to, the nature of the contravention, the amount of the penalty and the status of the penalty 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 29, 2019.