Deposits & Fees

A landlord can request a deposit that will be held in trust as security against damage to the rental unit. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, be sure you understand the process for returning a deposit at the end of a tenancy.

Video: Security & Pet Damage Deposits

Security Deposits

At the start of a tenancy, a landlord can ask for a security deposit (or damage deposit) – it can be no more than half of the first month’s rent.

Paying a security deposit means that a tenancy agreement has been entered into and neither the landlord nor the tenant can change their mind.  The landlord cannot prevent the tenant from moving in. Even if the tenant doesn’t move into the rental unit, they’re responsible for all obligations under a tenancy – including paying rent or repairing damages until the tenancy has ended in the proper manner

Pet Damage Deposits

A landlord may also request a pet damage deposit at the start of a tenancy or during a tenancy if a tenant gets a pet with the landlord’s permission. The deposit must be no more than half of one month’s rent, regardless of the number of pets allowed.

Deposits are not required for guide or service dogs or pets that were in a rental unit as of January 1, 2004.

A pet damage deposit can only be used to cover the costs of repairing damage caused by a pet, unless the tenant agrees in writing or an arbitrator orders the pet damage deposit be applied to a Monetary Order.

Learn more about:

Deposits for Manufactured Home Parks

In a mobile home park, tenants usually own their manufactured home and rent the site that it sits on. In these cases, a landlord cannot request a security deposit or pet damage deposit. If a tenant is renting both a manufactured home and a manufactured home site under a residential tenancy agreement, then the rules related to deposits for a standard residential tenancy apply.

The person moving a manufactured home on or off the site may need to provide proof of insurance (or security) to the landlord if they request it.

Deposits paid before December 31, 2003 can be kept by the landlord until the end of the tenancy and be used for covering damages as agreed by the tenant or ordered by an arbitrator.

Unpaid Deposits

If a tenant doesn't pay the security deposit within 30 days of entering into the tenancy agreement or the pet damage deposit within 30 days of it being required, the landlord may serve the tenant with a notice to end the tenancy.

Landlord & Tenant Responsibilities

Landlords:

  • Can only request one security deposit or pet damage deposit per tenancy agreement, regardless of the number of tenants or pets
  • Can serve a One Month Notice to End Tenancy (PDF, 2.1MB) if a tenant fails to pay the security deposit within 30 days of entering into the tenancy agreement or a pet damage deposit within 30 days of when it’s required
  • Cannot request deposits based on rules and procedures used in other areas (for example, landlords can’t ask for “first and last month’s rent” or “key money”)
  • Cannot increase the amount of a deposit with a rent increase
  • Cannot automatically keep all or part of the deposit at the end of the tenancy

Tenants:

  • Must pay the security deposit within 30 days of entering into the tenancy agreement or the pet damage deposit within 30 days of when it’s required
  • Cannot use a deposit as rent without the landlord’s written permission
  • Should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch if they paid too much for their deposit – they may be able to deduct the over-payment from their rent

Fees

Keys: A landlord can't charge for a key or other access device (e.g. a fob) that is the tenant’s only means for getting in to the residential unit or manufactured home park. For keys or devices that aren't the only way to access the rental unit, a landlord can charge a fee that is refunded when the key or access device is returned. The fee must not be more than the direct cost of replacing the keys or access device. Landlords can charge a fee to replace or provide additional keys.

Application fees: A landlord must not charge a fee for accepting, reviewing or processing an application.

Moving fees: A landlord can charge a fee if a tenant requests to move between units in a multi-tenanted building. This must be stated in the tenancy agreement and the fee can’t be greater than $15 or 3% of the monthly rent. A landlord can also charge a move-in fee only if it’s required by strata bylaws.

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: September 23, 2017.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch