Landlords need to prepare a written agreement for every residential tenancy. However, a verbal agreement is still valid and enforceable. It’s also important to note that the standard terms found in the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) still applies regardless of whether a written agreement is present.

Additional Considerations

  • Paying a security deposit confirms tenancy
  • Tenants and landlords must both sign the written agreement
  • Landlords need to give their tenants a printed copy of the written agreement within 21 days of entering the agreement

Tenancy agreements are very important for both tenants and landlords alike because they’re essentially a form of security. They define the rights and responsibilities of each party. Therefore, tenants and landlords are protected in a manner that is fair and consistent. 

What Should Be Included?

Section 13 of the RTA states that the following elements are required in every residential tenancy agreement:

  1. the standard terms listed on the Residential Tenancy Branch’s (RTB) standard tenancy agreement;
  2. the names of the tenant(s) and landlord(s);
  3. the address of the rental unit;
  4. the date the agreement is entered into;
  5. the address and telephone number of the landlord or landlord’s agent;
  6. the date the tenancy will start;
  7. the tenancy period – whether it is on a weekly, monthly, or other basis;
    1. if a fixed term tenancy, the date on which the tenancy ends;
    2. if a fixed term tenancy with a “vacate clause”, the date on which the tenant must vacate;
  8. the amount of rent;
  9. how much rent varies depending on the number of occupants;
  10. when rent is due;
  11. what services and facilities are included in rent; and
  12. the amount of security deposit or pet damage deposit required, and the date it was or must be paid.

Addendums

If you’re a landlord who wants to have additional terms or rules that aren’t covered by the RTA, consider including an addendum. However, keep in mind that whatever additions are included in the addendum cannot be in conflict with the RTA. This remains true even if the tenant has signed the agreement. 

The following are examples of matters that landlords will incorporate into their addendum that aren’t explicitly stated in the RTA:

  • Smoking
  • Cannabis
  • Insurance
  • Yard Maintenance (if applicable)

In the event that you’re facing residential tenancy issues, whether you’re the tenant or landlord, it’s important to resort back to your tenancy agreement. Therefore, if you’re a tenant then it may be in your best interest to seek legal consultation prior to signing an agreement. Conversely, if you’re a landlord, lawyers can help you during the drafting process. Lawyers can determine whether your terms and wishes are included while still abiding by the RTA specifications.

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