According to Stats Canada, over 4 million Canadians live in a home that is rented.
This translates to a lot of people who fall into either the landlord or tenant categories. Over the years, rules and guidelines have emerged with regards to renting that have become almost common knowledge. What most people don’t realize is that many of these “renting rules” or practices are not legal or enforceable.
Check out the top 8 renting myths that every landlord and tenant should know about.
It is common for a landlord to ask his or her tenant for first and last months deposit; however, you may also sometimes find a landlord requesting a key or security deposit as well. According to the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord can request no more than one months rent deposit. Therefore, if the landlord asked for last months rent as a deposit, they cannot also ask for a key deposit or security deposit.
2. No Pets
Oftentimes you see rental ads that clearly state NO PETS. It is a violation of the Residential Tenancies Act for a landlord to forbid animals or refuse a tenant based solely on the fact that they have a pet. The only exception to this rule is when a rental unit is in a condominium whose declaration prohibits pets. In addition, a landlord can make an application to evict a tenant if his or her pet is dangerous, causes interference with reasonable enjoyment, or is the source of a serious allergic reaction.
At the start of a lease, a landlord can decide the appropriate amount of rent a tenant should be paying. If the landlord wishes to increase the amount of rent owed, he or she must notify the tenant (in writing) 90 days beforehand. Furthermore, a landlord can only increase the rent if 12 months have elapsed since the day the tenant moved in or the day the rent was last increased. Landlords can learn the appropriate amount to raise their rent every year by checking out the rent guideline published by the BC government.
4. Post-Dated Cheques
Although providing post-dated cheques may make life a little less complicated, it is not enforceable by the landlord. A tenant does not need to provide the landlord with post-dated cheques or agree to automatic debit payments. Moreover; a landlord cannot refuse a tenant for failure to provide post-dated cheques.
5. Landlords Termination of a Lease Before End of Period
Reasons for eviction based on the tenant’s conduct. A landlord can give a tenant notice of termination if the tenant, the tenant’s guest or someone else who lives in the rental unit either does something they should not do, or does not do something they should.
- Not paying the rent in full
- Persistently paying the rent late
- Causing damage to the rental property
- Illegal activity
- Affecting the safety of others
- Disturbing the enjoyment of other tenants or the landlord
- Allowing too many people to live in the rental unit (“overcrowding”)
- Not reporting income in subsidized housing
Other reasons for eviction.
There are some other reasons for eviction that are not related to the tenant's actions. For example:
- The landlord wants the rental unit for their own use or for the use of an immediate family member or a caregiver,
- The landlord has agreed to sell the property and the purchaser wants all or part of the property for their own use or for the use of an immediate family member or a caregiver,
- The landlord plans major repairs or renovations that require a building permit and vacant possession,
- The landlord plans to demolish the rental property,
- In a care home that is occupied for the sole reason of receiving therapy or rehabilitation, the tenant’s rehabilitation or therapy program has ended,
- A tenant of a care home needs more care than the care home can provide, or no longer needs the level of care provided by the landlord.
In these cases the landlord must then file an application for eviction with the Landlord and Tenant Board and a hearing will be scheduled. Note that despite popular belief, there is nothing in the law that prevents a landlord from evicting a tenant during the winter.
6. Landlords Termination at the End of the Lease
Even if a landlord wishes to terminate a lease at the end of the term, proper notice must be given to the tenants. There are several reasons why a landlord may choose to terminate a lease at the end of the lease term. If the landlord is planning on renovating or demolishing the property, he or she must give the tenant 120 days notice prior to the lease completion. Should the landlord wish to occupy the home or have a spouse, child or parent move into the home they must provide the tenant with 60 days notice. If the landlord wishes to sell the property they must give the tenant a minimum of 60 days notice prior to the end of the lease. Please note that the termination process is complex and differs per individual case. For more details visit the Landlord and Tenant Board website.
7. Termination by Tenant
A tenant cannot break a lease without getting the approval of the landlord, as they will be liable for the remainder of the rent owing on the contract. If a tenant is on a day to day or week to week tenancy, they are required to give notice to the landlord 28 days before termination of the lease. If a tenant is on a month to month lease, they must give 60 days notice before termination of the lease. Finally, if a tenant is on a fixed-term lease (with an expiry date), the tenant must notify the landlord 60 days before the lease expires that they will be moving out of the unit. Note that in the event that the initial (fixed-term) lease period is over, the tenant will then automatically move to a month to month lease. In the event that a tenant needs to get out of a lease, their next best option would be to assign or sublet the remaining portion of their lease.
8. Subletting and Assigning
Unless the lease specifies otherwise, a tenant can sublet or assign their lease. The tenant must get permission from the landlord to do so, however the landlord cannot give an unreasonable refusal of the sublet or assignment. An assignment means that both the assignee and the former tenant are liable to the landlord (the former tenant for the period prior to assignment; the assignee for the period afterwards). Subletting means that the former tenant is liable to the landlord for the duration of the lease and the subletter is liable to the former tenant.
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord it is important to know what rental practices are legal and therefore enforceable and which ones are not. Knowing your rights can make renting easier and can eliminate disagreements between landlords and tenants. For more details about renting rules and regulations, visit the Landlord and Tenant Board website here.