Residential Tenancy Agreements, also known as Rental Lease Agreements, are required when renting a property.
In British Columbia, a Residential Tenancy Agreement serves as a legally binding contract that outlines the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. In this guide, we cover all topics that must be included in the lease and point out common restrictions landlords are not allowed to include.
Parties Involved in the Tenancy Agreement
When writing a Residential Lease Agreement in BC, you should clearly state the names and contact information of all parties involved. This includes the landlord and tenants. It's important to be thorough, ensuring that everyone's legal name is correctly spelled.
Landlords in BC must provide an address where legal notices can be sent. The address of a property management company can be included instead of the landlord's personal address.
Provide the exact address of the property being rented and any amenities that are included, such as washing machines or a stove.
The Residential Tenancy Agreement must also specify who will pay utilities.
Term of Tenancy
When you write the Residential Tenancy Agreement, BC law requires that you specify whether it is a fixed-term lease or a month-to-month tenancy. Fixed-term leases end on a date chosen when the lease was signed. Month-to-month leases continue indefinitely until the tenant provides notice they are moving out.
Rent and Other Payments
Clearly state the rent amount, payment due date, and preferred method of payment. Additionally, include details regarding deposits, such as the security deposit amount, any interest it accrues, and what deductions can be made at the end of the tenancy.
When writing the Residential Lease Agreements you should consider adding a section for other services you are charging for. Parking and extra storage space are common monthly fees charged in addition to the monthly rent.
BC tenancy law states the security deposit cannot half a month's one rent and the landlord must pay interest annually on the security deposit. The landlord can also collect an additional half month's rent as a pet security deposit.
As of 2023, the annual interest landlords must pay tenants for their security deposits is 1.95%. You can see the latest interest rate requirements on the Province of British Columbia website.
Maintenance and Repairs
The landlord is always required to maintain the property. Health hazards like mold in a rental unit must be fixed immediately by the landlord.
The tenant is responsible for warning the landlord about maintenance requirements in a prompt manner. Consider including an emergency phone line when writing your lease agreement.
Landlords may require the tenant to obtain tenant insurance which covers the tenants liability for damage caused on to others. Tenant insurance is most frequently required in condos where the tenant can cause damage to the condo's common property.
Guest, Pet, and Other Rules
According to the Government of British Columbia, landlords are not allowed to charge guest fees or ban tenants from having guests. Do not write guest rules in your Residential Tenancy Agreement.
Landlords are allowed to restrict the size and number of pets in BC rental properties. Generally, landlords cannot restrict all pets unless the property is in a condominium with by-laws prohibiting animals.
You may also want to include other rules like prohibiting smoking in the rental units. Overall, many rules may be covered by a condominium's by-laws in which case the landlord simply has to write the tenant must comply with all building by-laws.
The agreement should conclude with the signatures of both the landlord and tenant(s). Witnesses are not required.
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