Landlords are required to prepare a written agreement for every tenancy. Even if a landlord doesn’t prepare one, the standard terms of a tenancy agreement still apply. Also, paying a security deposit establishes a tenancy, even if there is no written tenancy agreement and if the tenant never moves in.
Both landlords and tenants must sign and date the agreement. Landlords need to provide a printed copy to their tenants within 21 days of entering into the agreement.
If your agreement is not with the landlord, you will not have protection under the Residential Tenancy Act. This is common when an existing tenant allows a roommate to move in without getting the landlord’s agreement to add that person to the tenancy agreement.
- Learn more about roommates
All tenancy agreements need to include standard terms that protect landlords and tenants and ensure that tenancy agreements are fair and balanced. These terms even apply when there is no written tenancy agreement.
Some tenancy terms are negotiated between the tenant and landlord:
- Who the agreement is between: Include the full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s). People not named in the agreement might not have any rights
- Length of the tenancy:
Fixed-term - A tenancy set for a specific period of time (e.g. a year, a month or a week).
The tenancy cannot be ended earlier than the date fixed except in three circumstances: both parties agree in writing; there are special circumstances such as the tenant is fleeing family violence or the tenant has been assessed as requiring long-term care or has been accepted into a long-term care facility; or as ordered by an arbitrator. Learn more about ending a fixed-term for family violence or long-term care.
At the end of the term of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, the landlord and tenant can agree to another fixed term or the tenancy continues on a month-to-month basis. Rent can only be increased between fixed-term tenancy agreements with the same tenant if the notice and timing requirements for Rent Increases are met
Effective December 11, 2017, a “vacate clause” requiring the tenant to move out on the date the agreement ends can only be used in a fixed term tenancy agreement if:
- The tenancy agreement is a sublease agreement; or
- The tenancy is a fixed term tenancy in circumstances prescribed in section 13.1 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation (external link). The reason must be indicated and both parties must have their initials next to this term in the agreement in order for it to be enforceable.
Periodic - A tenancy with no specific end date - it continues until the landlord or tenant serve notice or both decide to end the tenancy. For example, a month-to-month tenancy.
- Rent: Clearly specify how much the rent is and when it’s due. It should also be clear what’s included in the rent – for example, if utilities, laundry or cable are included; or whether there are other refundable or non-refundable fees payable, such as late fees. Essential services such as heat, electricity and hot water must be provided, but the agreement may say that the tenant pays for these
- Deposits: Indicate what deposits are required and when they are due. Only one security deposit and one pet damage deposit can be requested per unit – each one should be no more than half of one month’s rent. Manufactured home park landlords cannot ask for deposits
- Pets: Indicate whether there are any pet restrictions
In addition to the above, there are standard terms defined by law that set out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. They include rental increases, the landlord’s access to a unit, repairs and subletting.
Be sure to include all standard terms in the tenancy agreement by using these forms:
Many landlords also include additional terms for things like pets, smoking or late-payment fees. These are generally binding if the tenant agrees to them and they do not contradict the Residential Tenancy Act or Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.
Additional occupants: The agreement may include a term restricting the number of occupants in a rental unit or requiring the landlord’s permission before additional occupants can live in the rental unit. If additional occupants are added, a landlord can only increase the rent if the tenancy agreement includes a term allowing the rent to vary based on the number of occupants or the parties all agree to sign a new tenancy agreement.
An additional term that is unclear or seems to grossly favour one party might not be enforceable. If you have questions Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch.
In a mobile home park, many tenants own their manufactured home and only rent the site that it sits on. A Manufactured Home Site Tenancy Agreement (PDF) should be used.
Landlords are required to give a written copy of manufactured home park rules (if there are any) before signing the tenancy agreement. It’s a good idea for the landlord and tenant to review the rules before signing the agreement.
If a tenant is renting the manufactured home itself – then the standard residential tenancy agreement applies.
The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: July 23, 2019.