The Residential Tenancy Act says that tenants must maintain reasonable health, cleanliness, and sanitary standards in their rental unit. For example, tenants are generally responsible for the following:
- reasonable maintenance of carpets;
- wiping or vacuuming baseboards and baseboard heaters to remove dust and dirt;
- removal of garbage from the rental unit;
- replacing light bulbs and standard fuses; and
- routine yard maintenance, such as cutting grass and clearing snow, if you have exclusive use of the yard.
Wear and Tear
Even the most well-behaved tenant can live in a rental unit that starts falling apart over time. Tenants are not required to make repairs for “reasonable wear and tear”, which according to Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Policy Guideline 1, “refers to natural deterioration that occurs due to aging and other natural forces, where the tenant has used the premises in a reasonable fashion.” If your landlord claims that you caused damage beyond reasonable wear and tear, you can state your disagreement on the move-out condition inspection report.
Tenants are responsible for damage beyond reasonable wear and tear, such as an excessive number of nail holes in a wall. If you, a co-tenant, or a guest has caused damage to your rental unit, it is usually safest to contact your landlord and work out a plan for how the repair will be completed, rather than take on the repair yourself.
Landlords are allowed to restrict pets entirely, or set limits on the number, size, or type of pets a tenant can have in their rental unit. If your pet causes significant damage or unreasonably disturbs others, your landlord may have grounds to evict you and keep your pet damage deposit.
Pets is a topic that was covered in greater detail in Renting It Right: Finding a Home. If you have not yet taken that course, you may want to review that section before moving on.
Useful Life of Building Elements
RTB Policy Guideline 40 provides a general guide for determining the “useful life” of building elements. For example, carpets are listed at 10 years and stoves are listed at 15 years. It is important to refer to this resource in situations where a tenant has caused damage to a rental unit, and the landlord is seeking monetary compensation. If a tenant damages a five-year old carpet to the point where it needs to be replaced, a landlord may assume that they are entitled to the full cost of replacement. However, using Policy Guideline 40 as a reference, the tenant can argue – either in negotiations or at dispute resolution – that they should only be responsible for half the cost, since the carpet was already halfway through its useful life.
- Renting It Right - Finding a Home: Pets
- TRAC Webpage – Repairs and Maintenance
- TRAC Webpage – Pets
- RTA Section 32 – Landlord and tenant obligations to repair and maintain
- RTB Policy Guideline 1 – Landlord & Tenant – Responsibility for Residential Premises
- RTA Section 18 – Terms respecting pets and pet damage deposits
- RTB Policy Guideline 28 – Pet Clauses
- RTB Policy Guideline 31 – Pet Damage Deposits
- RTB Policy Guideline 40 – Useful Life of Building Elements