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4.4 Periodic vs. Fixed Term

A periodic tenancy agreement – often referred to as a “month-to-month” tenancy agreement – does not have a pre-determined date on which it ends. The tenancy continues until the tenant gives proper notice to move out, or until the landlord legally ends the tenancy. Periodic tenancies can be established on a weekly, monthly, or other periodic basis, but month-to-month agreements are by far the most common type. Throughout this course, the terms “periodic tenancy” and “month-to-month tenancy” will be used interchangeably.

A fixed term tenancy – often referred to as a “lease” – does have a pre-determined date on which the tenancy ends or is up for renewal – most commonly after one year. At the end of a fixed term, the tenant and landlord can mutually agree to extend the tenancy for another fixed term. However, if the tenant would prefer that the tenancy continue on a month-to-month basis, the landlord cannot force them to renew the agreement for another fixed term.

Vacate Clauses

Some fixed term tenancy agreements may have a clause that says the tenant must move out at the end of the fixed term. This type of “vacate clause” can only be used in the limited circumstances listed in section 13.1 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, or when a subtenant is signing a temporary sublease. If you have this type of clause in your fixed term tenancy agreement, and the reason for vacating is legally valid, you must move out at the end of the term, and you are not entitled to any compensation. Since this type of “vacate clause” can only be used in limited circumstances, watch out for landlords trying to use it illegally.

Here are some pros and cons for month-to-month and fixed term tenancies:

Type of Tenancy Pros Cons
Month-to-Month More flexibility: If your life takes an unexpected turn that requires you to move, you are only required to provide one-month notice in writing to end your tenancy. “Landlord’s Use” Evictions: If your landlord or a person who purchases the property from them wants to occupy your rental unit, allow a close family member to occupy your unit, make serious renovations to your unit, or demolish your unit, they might be able to evict you with two or four months’ notice for “landlord’s use of property”.
Fixed Term Stability: For the duration of your fixed term, you cannot be evicted for “landlord’s use of property”. Less flexibility: If you need to end your fixed term tenancy early – also known as “breaking a lease” – you could end up owing your landlord some money.