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Deposit Debrief – Your Questions on Security Deposits Answered

Unsure about handing extra money over to your new landlord?  Here we’ve outlined the basics with respect to security and pet deposits in the province of British Columbia. These rules are sometimes revised so the ultimate source should always be the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Security Deposit

A security deposit often called a damage deposit is paid to the landlord before a tenancy begins and protects the landlord from unforeseen damage caused by a careless tenant. It can only be half a month’s rent and must be paid within 30 days of the date requested. Once paid you are committed to the property. If you decide not to move in, the landlord is within their right to keep the money.

Then when you choose to move out, if your landlord believes you are responsible for damage beyond reasonable wear and tear, they can ask the Residential Tenancy Branch for permission to keep your security deposit.

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Pet Damage Deposit

If you have a pet, a landlord can also request up to a half month’s rent as a pet damage deposit. This can be collected at the beginning of a tenancy or later if you obtain a pet during your tenancy. If your pet causes damage or is unduly disruptive, the landlord can try to evict you and keep the pet damage deposit.  However, a landlord cannot use the pet damage deposit money to cover the cost of non pet-related damage.

If a landlord collects more than half month’s rent for damage or pet deposit, you can deduct the overage fee from the rent you pay.

Deposits are not required for guide or service dogs.

Getting your Deposit Back

To get your deposits back at the end of a lease term, you must give your landlord a forwarding address.There is often an option to include this on the move-out condition inspection report. After you’ve provided your forwarding address in writing and your tenancy is over, the landlord has 15 days to return your deposit (in person, via mail or electronically), get written permission from you to keep some or all of it, apply for a dispute resolution to keep some or all.

Be assured, though, that your landlord cannot simply decide on their own to keep your deposit. If they want to do so they need permission from you or the Residential Tenancy Branch. After 15 days, if your landlord has not returned your deposit, obtained your written consent, or applied for dispute resolution, section 38 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) gives you the right to rectify this situation with your landlord, through dispute resolution, for double the amount of your deposit.

If after 15 days, if your landlord hasn’t returned your deposit, obtained your written consent or applied for dispute resolution you can take them to dispute resolution for double the amount of the deposit.

Also, your landlord needs to include you in the move in/move out condition inspection reports. If they do not do this or provide you with a copy of these reports, they lose their right to claim either deposit. If, however, you fail to participate in these inspections you may lose the right to have your deposit returned.

Return Deposit Calculator

To determine when your landlord must either initate the return of the security or pet damage deposit or obtain permission from you or apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to keep it plug your key dates into this Return Deposit Calculator 

 

Kristina Ikavalko

Kristina Ikavalko

Creative Content Creator for Liv, based in Vancouver. Fan of field hockey, food, fashion & politics.

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