Blog 5 Rental Laws 5 BC 5 Your guide to landlord & tenant responsibilities in BC

Your guide to landlord & tenant responsibilities in BC

6 min read
Kristina Ikavalko

Kristina Ikavalko

Creative Content Writer at

Published on December 06, 2018

Last updated on January 24th, 2024

One of the first things both landlords and renters should familiarize themselves with before beginning a tenancy are their responsibilities, and the responsibilities of the other party. Too often, wires get crossed and disputes arise over who should be performing what duties throughout the course of the tenancy, as well as at move-in and move-out. To help remedy this common source of confusion among renters and landlords, has created this quick guide to landlord and tenant responsibilities in BC with handy visuals to reference, a breakdown of each party’s responsibilities, and answers to your most frequently asked questions.

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What are landlord responsibilities at move-in

In British Columbia, landlords have a number of responsibilities to carry out to ensure that everything is in order prior to their new tenants moving in. Here are some of the key responsibilities that landlords typically have at the time of move-in:

  • Completing a Condition Inspection Report — Landlords are required to complete a condition inspection report with the tenant before they move in. This report documents the condition of the rental unit and any existing damages. Both the landlord and the tenant must sign the report, and each party should keep a copy for their records.
  • Ensuring that the unit meets health & safety standards — B.C. tenancy law requires rental units to be clean and well-maintained prior to move-in. Units must be:
    • Clean & well-maintained
    • Have functioning doors, windows, and locks
    • Free from mold or infestations
  • Completing repairs and maintenance, including responsibilities such as:
    • Maintaining the unit in a good state of repair
    • Maintaining appliances such as washers, dryers, stoves, and refrigerators
    • Maintaining heating sources
    • Maintaining septic/water sources
    • Ensuring electrical function

What are landlords responsible for during a tenancy?

To simplify the many landlord and tenant responsibilities in B.C., we’ve broken down some of the most commonly confused tasks to clarify exactly who’s responsible for what.

Is my landlord responsible for bed bugs?

Yes, your landlord must ensure a property is pest-free before you move in and ensure there are no possible entry points for pests. Once you’ve moved in, should pests appear, contact your landlord to discuss and remedy the situation immediately.

Are landlords responsible for door locks?

Landlords are responsible for changing the locks in the beginning of the tenancy if requested by the tenant. Landlords are also responsible for providing and maintaining locks throughout the unit, including exterior door locks and windows. 

Who is responsible for smoke detectors in a rental property?

Smoke detectors are a seemingly small concern, but their implications are big and important. A landlord is required to replace batteries in fire alarms but, as a tenant, you must ensure they remain active. If alarm starts to sound, indicating low battery or other malfunction, contact your landlord immediately to let them know.  A landlord must investigate this immediately. Insurance policies hinge upon the presence of a working fire prevention plan which, of course, includes smoke detectors. The expectation is that landlords conduct an annual test of fire alarms and replace batteries as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Is my landlord responsible for water leaks?

In the case of flooding or less serious water damage, your landlord is responsible for the repairs. Communicate the issue immediately to minimize damage and impact to the property and your life.

Who is responsible for appliances in a rental property?

The basic maintenance of appliances is the domain of landlords, as are any replacements or repairs related to standard wear and tear; however, if the tenant causes the damage, the tenant is responsible for any repair costs.

Who is responsible for heating system issues?

The landlord is responsible for inspecting and keeping up with scheduled services of the furnace.  Along with replacing furnace filters and cleaning heating ducts as needed.

Is a tenant responsible for garbage?

Yes! It seems basic, but it’s worth reiterating: garbage disposal is a tenant’s responsibility. Make sure you ask your landlord where garbage chutes, recycling bins, and building garbage facilities are located and on what day the garbage is picked up, or refer to you municipality’s website for a schedule.

Are tenants responsible for lawn maintenance?

In BC, the tenant in a single-family home or townhome is responsible for basic yard work including cutting the grass and basic weeding. In Ontario however, the responsibility falls on the landlord by default. In any case, the landlord should make duties clear to the tenant and indicate where the necessary tools are for performing these tasks if they’ve specified that lawn care is a required duty. The tenant should never embark on any major landscaping efforts (i.e. digging new flower beds etc.) without consulting the landlord.  

Are tenants responsible for cleaning the rental property?

Tenants must maintain “reasonable health, cleanliness
and sanitary standards
” throughout the rental property. Tenants are responsible for the general upkeep of the rental property during their tenancy, and are responsible for any repairs for damages caused by themselves or their guests. Tenants do not bear any responsibility for general wear and tear of the rental property, as that is a landlord’s responsibility.

Who is responsible for standard fuses in the rental property?

Tenants are responsible for replacing all standard fuses (e.g stove & oven) in the rental unit, unless it was caused by a problem with the stove or electrical system. Tenants are also responsible for ensuring all fuses are working properly before the end of their tenancy.

Who is responsible for snow removal at a rental property?

Similar to lawn care, this depends on the province one is renting in. In BC, it is the tenant’s responsibility to adhere to civic bylaws and clear snow from walkways and sidewalks around a property (townhomes, single family homes). However, this only applies to homes and not apartment buildings where a building manager is typically responsible for snow removal. In Ontario, snow removal duties fall upon the landlord regardless of the type of unit.

Are tenants responsible for changing light bulbs and fuses?

Before moving in, a landlord should make sure all light bulbs and fuses are in working order. Once you are in, you will be responsible for replacing light bulbs and standard fuses unless caused by a malfunctioning electrical system, in which case, that is the landlord’s responsibility.

Is it a landlord's responsibility to paint?

Landlords are responsible for painting the interior of a unit at regular intervals, as required to maintain a good state of repair. However, tenants are responsible for any paint job required to fix damages caused during their tenancy. 

Is it a landlord or tenant responsibility to clean and maintain a fireplace?

Landlords are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the fireplace at reasonable intervals. If tenants have used the fireplace, they are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the fireplace before the end of the tenancy.

Is a landlord responsible for cleaning or replacing carpets?

Landlords are responsible for providing tenants with clean carpets at the beginning of their tenancy. Throughout the tenancy, tenants are responsible for routine carpet cleaning and maintenance. At the end of the tenancy, tenants may be expected to steam clean or shampoo the carpets, regardless of the length of the tenancy.

What to do if there’s a dispute

If you are ever in doubt over the division of labour, it is always best to contact the landlord even if it is simply to ask permission to perform a repair or contact a service provider. Often, landlords rely on a tried and tested list of repairmen and will be able to recommend someone. It is also important to discuss payment responsibilities.

Every province has slightly different guidelines governing responsibilities. Make sure you research your legal obligations and regularly discuss expectations with your landlord. In BC, refer to the Policy Guidelines – Landlord and Tenants Responsibilities.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Kristina, I am incredibly grateful to you for sharing this list of landlord and tenant responsibilities. I am currently stuck in a landscaping argument with my landlord, and I know what to say to him.


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