Residential Tenancy Act
If you live in BC and pay rent for your home, you are most likely protected by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) – the provincial law that outlines tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities. If you have rented a home in other parts of the world, do not assume that the same rules exist; the RTA applies only to BC.
The first thing to know about the RTA is that it cannot be avoided. All BC tenants are guaranteed certain legal rights by law, regardless of what their tenancy agreement says. This means that any term of an agreement that attempts to avoid or “contract out” of the RTA is unenforceable. If your landlord tries to unfairly limit your rights in this way, you can insist they provide you with the basic protections outlined in the RTA.
Residential Tenancy Regulation
While the RTA is the main legislation in BC that outlines tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities, there is also the Residential Tenancy Regulation (RTR), which complements the RTA and goes into greater detail on certain topics. Like the RTA, a landlord cannot avoid or “contract out” of the RTR.
Residential Tenancy Branch
The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is the department of the provincial government responsible for administering and enforcing the Residential Tenancy Act. The primary service the RTB provides is called “dispute resolution”, which is a court-like proceeding for tenants and landlords. If you and your landlord are unable to resolve a dispute on your own, you can request that an arbitrator from the RTB review your case and provide a legally binding decision that must be obeyed.
In addition to their dispute resolution service, the RTB offers tenants and landlords:
- legal information in person, over the phone, and by email;
- a website and online tools, such as Calculators;
- approved forms and notices;
- Rules of Procedure for Dispute Resolution; and
- Policy Guidelines on key topics.
Am I Covered by the Law?
Some types of rental housing and living situations are not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). To make sure that you are protected by the RTA (and that this course applies to you), we strongly encourage you to review TRAC’s Webpage, Am I Covered by the Law?, before moving on.