At the start of a tenancy, the landlord may present the tenant with the Residential Tenancy Branch’s (RTB) standard agreement, or they may prefer to use their own custom agreement. If they choose to use their own agreement, it must contain all the standard terms required by the Residential Tenancy Act and Residential Tenancy Regulation – just like the RTB agreement.
Here are some of the most important terms that should be included as part of any tenancy agreement:
- the standard terms, listed in the Schedule of the Residential Tenancy Regulation;
- the names of the tenant and landlord;
- the address of the rental unit;
- the date the agreement is entered into;
- the address and telephone number of the landlord or landlord’s agent;
- the date the tenancy will start;
- the tenancy period (most commonly monthly);
- if a fixed term tenancy, the date the terms ends;
- if a fixed term tenancy with a “vacate clause” (only allowed in limited circumstances), the date the tenant must vacate;
- the amount of rent;
- if the rent varies depending on the number of occupants and, if so, by how much;
- when rent is due and how the tenant may pay it;
- the services and facilities that are included in the rent; and
- the amount of security deposit or pet damage deposit required, and the date it was or must be paid.
Carefully review your tenancy agreement before signing it. If English is not your first language, or you are uncertain about something in the agreement, consider showing it to a friend or family member for clarification and advice.
Once you have signed the tenancy agreement, your landlord must provide you with a copy within 21 days. Keep your copy in a safe place and take photos so it can be backed up digitally. If your landlord ever tries to change the terms of your tenancy, it may be difficult to prove what was originally agreed to without a copy of the agreement.
Although the RTA requires landlords to prepare tenancy agreements in writing, it also says that a tenancy agreement can be “oral, express or implied”. This means that you and your landlord do not have to sign an agreement to establish a legal tenancy in BC. While verbal tenancies are covered by the RTA, it is still safest to have a written agreement with your landlord.
The Residential Tenancy Act allows for service of documents by email, but only if the tenant and landlord have both agreed to that. The RTB’s standard tenancy agreement does not contain an “email” field, as it only asks about phone numbers and addresses. If you and your landlord would like the option to give notices and forms to each other by email, make sure to clearly list your email addresses on your tenancy agreement.
- TRAC Webpage – Tenancy Agreements
- TRAC Webpage – Serving Documents
- TRAC Template Letter – Copy of Tenancy Agreement
- TRAC Template Letter – Illegal Term in Tenancy Agreement
- RTA Section 1 – Definition of “Tenancy Agreement”
- RTA Section 13 – Requirements for tenancy agreements
- Residential Tenancy Regulation – Schedule: Standard Terms
- Residential Tenancy Regulation Section 13.1 – Fixed term tenancy: circumstances when tenant must vacate at end of term
- Residential Tenancy Regulation – Part 8: Giving and Serving Documents