As a property owner in British Columbia, you have specific responsibilities to your tenants that differ from property owners in other Canadian provinces. By understanding and following this BC owner guide, you can avoid all sorts of headaches, from minor irritants to major legal trouble.
Knowing that you’re doing everything by the book can also help you more quickly and confidently make decisions, something any busy property owner can get behind.
Before we get to the actual responsibilities, it’s important to touch on where they come from and what they're based on.
Start with BC’s Residential Tenancy Act
If there’s one resource that BC residential landlords should familiarize themselves with, it’s the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) of BC.
The RTA is the law in the province of British Columbia that governs landlord and tenant relations in residential rental accommodations. Based on the law set out in this RTA, here are the main responsibilities of landlords in BC.
Note: Learn more by checking out our list of helpful resources for Canadian property owners.
Before a tenant even signs on the dotted line, landlords are responsible for finding and screening tenants in a fair and indiscriminate way.
Here’s what you can ask when screening applicants:
- Rental history (although if a person does not have a history of renting, this legally cannot be used against them).
- Permission to run credit checks and credit references.
- Their name, address, and date of birth (in order to conduct a credit check).
- Information surrounding their passport, driver’s license, source of income, and expenses for the purposes of:
- obtaining a more detailed credit report.
- ensuring the credit check is being done on the correct person and not someone with the same name and date of birth.
Conversely, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on their:
- Place of origin
- Marital status
- Family status
- Physical or mental disability
- Sexual orientation
- Lawful source of income
For a deeper dive into proper tenant screening, read our Ultimate Canadian Tenant Screening Checklist.
Provide and sign the lease
The Residential Tenancy Act of BC requires that certain information must be included in a rental agreement, including:
- Names of the landlord and tenant(s): The full legal names of both the landlord and tenant(s) must be included in the rental agreement.
- Rental property address: The address of the rental property being leased must be clearly stated in the agreement.
- Rent amount and due date: The monthly rent amount and the date by which it must be paid should be specified in the rental agreement.
- Term of the lease: The length of the lease including the start and end dates should be clearly stated in the rental agreement.
- Security deposit: The amount of the security deposit, and the conditions under which it will be returned to the tenant, should be specified in the rental agreement.
- Rules and restrictions: Any rules or restrictions that the tenant must follow such as pet policies or restrictions on smoking should be included in the rental agreement.
- Maintenance and repair responsibilities: The agreement should outline the landlord's responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the rental property as well as any maintenance or repairs that are the tenant's responsibility.
- Utilities: The rental agreement should specify which utilities are included in the rent and which are the tenant's responsibility to pay.
- Signatures: The rental agreement must be signed and dated by both the landlord and tenant(s) to indicate their agreement to the terms of the lease.
Beyond including all of this in your lease, it’s important to also make sure your tenants understand what they’re signing and provide clarification if needed.
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Adhere to proper rent increase
The 2023 rent increase limit in British Columbia is 2%. This increase can only be applied 12 months after the date that:
- The current rent was set with the existing tenants, or
- The rent was last legally increased
For example, if you increase rent on January 1, 2023, you would only be able to increase rent again on or after January 1, 2024.
You also have to give proper notice to tenants regarding these increases which is three full rental months in BC.
Read more about rent increases in BC.
Conduct maintenance and repairs
Make sure that property maintenance responsibilities are clearly listed in your lease agreement, and that all parties understand who is responsible for what.
This includes to what degree tenants are responsible for keeping your unit clean and damage-free. It's your responsibility as the landlord to maintain the property and make or arrange repairs.
Read more about property maintenance in BC.
Make sure your units are safe
Rental units need to be outfitted with necessary safety equipment which can include:
- Smoke detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Adequate locks on doors and windows
- At least two escape routes
- Up-to-code electrical safety
- Leak-free plumbing
Refer to the Residential Tenancy Act of BC to learn more about what safety protocols apply to your rental units.
Serve notice to enter the property
A landlord can enter their occupied units, but only for certain reasons and a 24-hour written notice must be given to the renter.
A landlord may enter:
- Any common areas that are shared with others like hallways, courtyards, and laundry facilities – no notice is required.
- The rental unit once per month to inspect the condition of the property – proper notice to tenants is required.
- The rental unit to complete repairs or maintenance – proper notice to tenants is required.
- To show the property to prospective buyers or tenants – proper notice to tenants is required.
Learn more about when you can enter an occupied rental unit in BC.
Serve notice to end tenancy
Different kinds of notices to end tenancy are required for different situations. These include:
- Unpaid rent or utilities: 10-day notice to end tenancy when tenants have not paid the full rent or utilities by the due date.
- For cause or for end of employment: One-month notice to end tenancy when the landlord has cause to end the tenancy or the rental unit was a condition of the tenant's employment which has ended.
- Landlord's use of property: Two-month notice to end tenancy when the landlord plans in good faith to use the property.
- Tenant does not qualify for subsidized rental unit: A public housing body can serve a two-month notice to end tenancy when a tenant no longer qualifies for a subsidized rental.
- Demolishing or converting the rental unit to another use: Four-month notice to end tenancy when the landlord is demolishing the unit or converting it to another use.
- Extensive renovations or repairs: Landlords must apply for dispute resolution to end a tenancy for major construction.
- Converting a manufactured home park: 12-month notice to end tenancy when the landlord plans to use all or a significant part of a manufactured home park for a different purpose.
Learn more about properly serving notice end tenancy in BC.
When a dispute arises between a tenant and landlord, the first step is to try to solve it through discussion. If this doesn’t work, either the landlord or the tenant can file a dispute resolution application with the Residential Tenancy Branch of BC.
This process ends with an arbitrator hearing both sides of the dispute and ultimately deciding who’s in the right.
By following these guidelines, and familiarizing yourself with BC’s RTA, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re renting out your property the right way.
Being a landlord may come with a lot of responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make your life easier. With a workload reduction of 4-6X, Rhenti makes the process of finding and signing the right renters easier than any other way.
Sign up for Rhenti's industry-leading leasing software today and start attracting more high-quality applicants faster.
The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.