Residential Tenancy Agreement Explained
Finding a place is hard enough. When it comes to signing the BC Residential Tenancy Agreement, or rental agreement, it’s a whole other ballgame. Read on as we break down what you need to know and pay attention to regarding BC Residential Tenancy Agreements. With Liv Rent, we make it easy as any past, current, and upcoming lease contracts signed on our platform can be pulled up and exported in just a few clicks.
What is a Residential Tenancy Agreement (RTA)?
The BC Residential Tenancy Agreement is a mandatory contract you sign with your landlord outlining the terms of your tenancy. It will typically include duration of rental, rental rate, payment terms, restrictions (i.e. pets, subletting etc.). The landlord is expected to give the tenant a copy of the signed and dated tenancy agreement within 21 days of signing.
What must be included in an RTA?
The agreement must include:
- Legal names of the landlord and tenant
- Address and telephone number of the landlord or landlord’s agent
- Address of the rental unit
- The date on which the tenancy starts
- For a fixed term tenancy, the date the tenancy ends and whether the tenancy may continue or whether the tenant must vacate the rental unit on that date
- The amount of the rent and when it is due
- The list of services and facilities included in the rent
- The amount of security or pet damage deposit and when they are to be paid
- Signatures of the landlord and tenant
- The date the agreement was signed
- The standard terms on: pets, condition inspections, rent increases, subletting, repairs, occupants and guests, locks, landlord’s entry into unit, ending tenancy
Landlords and tenants can agree to include other terms but the list above must be included.
What are some common addendums or other terms added to contracts?
Landlords may also include terms related to pets, smoking, subletting or late payment fees. These are binding as long as the tenant agrees to them and they do not contradict the Residential Tenancy Act.
We also recommend you ask for a list of Strata Rules if you are renting in a strata building. There are often another set of rules that you must abide by to keep the peace in the building. For example, check to see if barbecues are permitted.
What part(s) should you pay special attention to ?
If you sign a fixed term lease, pay special attention to what the agreement says happens at the end of the term. There are 3 possibilities:
- You must vacate at the end of the fixed term. This is usually invoked if the landlord or their family member will be moving in.
- The tenancy will continue on a month to month or another fixed term basis. Your landlord cannot force you to sign another fixed term. If you want to vacate after your lease is up, one month’s notice must be provided to the landlord.
- The tenancy agreement does not say what will happen at the end of a fixed term. In this case, according to section 44(3) of the RTA, if your tenancy agreement is silent on the matter, it will automatically continue on a month-to-month basis, unless you and your landlord mutually agree to renew on a fixed term basis (like #2).
What happens when a lease ends?
On the date specified at the end of a fixed term tenancy agreement, the tenant is not required to vacate the rental unit on that date (unless original document specified this). At this point, although the landlord and tenant have not entered into a new tenancy agreement, the landlord and tenant are deemed to have renewed the tenancy agreement as a month to month (or periodic) tenancy on the same terms. A rent increase can only happen if a requisite 3 months notice has been provided to the tenant. (See #3 in the previous section)
What is a lease term?
A lease term indicates the duration of your lease. A Fixed Term Lease is when the renter agrees to stay and pay rent for the period of time indicated in the agreement (6 months, 1 year, 2 years etc.). If a renter breaks the lease prior to the end of the lease, they will typically lose their deposit and potentially the value of the lease remaining.
A month to month term is essentially a rental agreement for a one-month period that is renewed automatically each month for another month until properly terminated by either party. It does not have a pre-determined end date. Landlords require 30 days’ notice from tenant and landlord must give tenants 2 months’ notice to end such an arrangement. In the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), month to month tenancies are referred to as “periodic” tenancies and are by far the most common type of periodic tenancy, but a tenancy can also be established on a weekly or other periodic basis.
If a one year lease ends, it automatically becomes a month to month arrangement unless both parties agree to sign another fixed term.
Looking to renegotiate your lease? Check out our tips here.
What is a Condition Inspection and Report?
A Condition Inspection and Report protects both landlords and tenants and outlines the unit’s condition before the tenant moves in and after the tenant moves out. To understand better what you should look for and expect look at the sample condition inspection report here.
The landlord and tenant must inspect the condition of the rental unit together at the beginning of a tenancy and at the end. They should be conducted on the tenant’s move in and move out dates.
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