Tenants are generally not allowed to withhold rent – even when a landlord is acting illegally. For example, if your landlord is ignoring a repair request, it might be tempting to retaliate by not paying the rent. While this will certainly get your landlord’s attention, it is illegal and could result in an eviction notice.
According to the Residential Tenancy Act, there are only five circumstances in which a tenant can legally withhold rent without their landlord’s permission:
- the tenant overpaid their security deposit or pet damage deposit;
- the tenant paid for emergency repairs after carefully following the proper steps;
- the tenant overpaid rent because of an illegal rent increase;
- the tenant received a Two or Four Month Eviction Notice for Landlord’s Use of Property, which entitles them to one month rent as compensation, and they are applying that compensation towards the last month of their tenancy; and
- the tenant has an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch allowing them to withhold rent.