Many rules and guidelines that have emerged throughout the years that concern renting have almost become common knowledge. However, what many fail to realize is that many of these “renting rules” or practices are neither enforceable nor legal. These common myths regarding renting in British Columbia will be debunked in hopes of alleviating some challenges that tenants face today. For further information or a more detailed explanation on regulations, see the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC). It is a non-profit organization that offers free legal information that may be crucial for navigating the rental market. Remember that learning and understanding the law will promote a more stable and secure tenancy.
Myth 1: The B.C. Residential Tenancy Act Covers Anyone Who Pays Rent.
Although the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) covers most people who pay money in order to live somewhere on a permanent basis, exceptions do exist. These include:
- Co-op housing
- Vacation or travel accommodation
- Emergency shelters and transitional housing
- School residences and housing
- Housing where the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner
Myth 2: You have to Learn to Live with Maintenance Issues if You Chose to Live in that Property.
There are a set of health, safety, and housing standards that your rental property must meet and is enforceable by law. Keep in mind that there are provincial and in some cases, city bylaws, that your landlord must abide by. Therefore, if your rental property does not meet the minimum standards, your landlord is responsible for providing maintenance and any subsequent services until the problem is remedied. This remains true regardless if you have moved in with knowledge of these issues.
Myth 3: It is Not a Big Deal if You are a Little Late or Short on Rent.
The main takeaway from this myth is that you absolutely should pay the correct amount of rent at the right time. Being even a dollar short on rent grants your landlord the authority to issue you a 10 Day Eviction Notice for Non-Payment of Rent. Understandably, sometimes life happens. Therefore, if you are issued a 10 Day Eviction Notice for Non-Payment of Rent, you have five days to pay the correct amount in order to cancel the notice. However, this does not mean that you should not take rent amounts and deadlines seriously. If you repeatedly commit this offence, your landlord may give you a One Month Eviction Notice. As such, this notice is less forgiving.
Myth 4: The Only Way to Settle Legal Disputes with Your Landlord is with a Lawyer.
As mentioned in previous posts, the Residential Tenancy Branch offers dispute resolution services. It is a significantly easier and cost-effective method of resolving legal tenant-landlord disputes. Hearings can be conducted over the phone and you are not required to have a lawyer in order to participate.
Myth 5: You Will Never Get Your Security Deposit Back
Once you have provided your landlord with a forwarding address in writing and your tenancy has officially ended, your landlord has 15 days to do one of three things:
- Return your deposit,
- Get your written consent to keep some or all of your deposit, or
- Apply for dispute resolution to ask for some or all of your deposit.
After 15 days, if your landlord still has not refunded your deposit, obtained your written consent, or applied for dispute resolution, you can take him/her to dispute resolution for double the amount of the deposit.
Myth 6: Your Landlord Can Ask for Multiple Deposits
Some landlords will ask for a key or security deposit in addition to first and last months rent. However, under the Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord is limited to a one month rent deposit. Thus, for example, a landlord cannot request a security deposit on top of a last month rent deposit.
Myth 7: “No Pets” Requirements are Entirely Enforceable
With the exception of condominiums, landlords cannot refuse a tenant solely based on the fact that they have a pet. Essentially, it is a violation of the Residential Tenancy Act. However, if the tenant’s pet is deemed dangerous or is a source of allergies, they will be able to apply for an eviction.