Did you know that there are free legal services available to renters in BC?
The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) is a non-profit organization that promotes the legal protection of tenants across the province by providing information, education, support and research on residential tenancy matters.
Thanks to core funding from the Law Foundation, City of Vancouver and Province of BC, TRAC is able to assist tens of thousands of tenants each year.
If you are facing a dispute with your landlord, or simply wanting to learn more about your rights as a tenant, read on to learn about TRAC’s top five free legal services.
1. Tenant Survival Guide
TRAC’s Tenant Survival Guide provides a comprehensive overview of tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities in BC. Key topics include evictions, repairs, quiet enjoyment, deposits, rent increases and dispute resolution. Written in plain language, the guide offers an accessible look into how tenants can avoid or resolve disputes with their landlord in order to maintain a stable tenancy.
TRAC recently reprinted 10,000 copies of the Tenant Survival Guide with project funding from the Law Foundation. To order individual or bulk copies for free, visit the Crown Publications website. Or, if you prefer digital content, the guide can also be viewed as a Wikibook.
2. Direct advocacy
TRAC provides free legal representation at Residential Tenancy Branch dispute resolution hearings. In terms of eligibility, our practising lawyer in charge of this program generally focuses on helping groups of tenants being affected by the same issue(s). For example, if your landlord attempts to “renovict” you and your neighbours, TRAC might be able to help your building join dispute resolution applications and challenge the eviction.
To see if you are eligible for representation, contact TRAC’s Direct Advocacy Manager. Although there is no income cut-off for this program, TRAC may give priority to tenants who cannot afford legal advice or representation from a lawyer.
3. Online course
TRAC and the Justice Education Society have partnered to create a video-based online course for tenants, Renting It Right. The course has been broken down into two parts:
- Part 1 – Finding a Home teaches tenants how to search for housing, prepare a strong rental application, and safely enter into a tenancy agreement.
- Part 2 – Rights and Responsibilities teaches tenants about the fundamentals of residential tenancy law and how to access the Residential Tenancy Branch dispute resolution system.
If you register for the course and complete the final exam, you will be provided with a certificate of completion endorsed by LandlordBC – the province’s leading landlord organization. LandlordBC has reviewed all the course content and encourages its members to view the course certificate positively when filling vacancies.
4. Legal education workshops
TRAC offers legal education workshops on residential tenancy law. We most commonly present to groups of tenants, such as new immigrants, seniors and youth, but also deliver workshops to advocates and service providers working with disadvantaged clients.
When scheduling workshops, TRAC generally partners with other organizations; they provide the space and participants, and we offer the facilitation and publications. Every TRAC workshop consists of a PowerPoint presentation, Q&A period and Tenant Survival Guide distribution. We most commonly deliver a standard presentation on the basics of residential tenancy law, but can also offer more detailed presentations on key topics, such as eviction.
5. Tenant Infoline
TRAC’s phone service is available from Monday to Friday across the province. If you cannot find an answer to your legal question through our website, call 604-255-0546 or 1-800-665-1185 to speak to one of our staff. Although TRAC cannot provide legal advice over the phone, we can explain the Residential Tenancy Act and help you make more informed decisions about your tenancy.
The Tenant Infoline’s hours of operation are as follows:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 1-5 pm
- Wednesday: 5:30-8:30 pm
LandlordBC offers Landlord Registry™, a multilingual e-learning program designed for residential landlords. The course provides landlords with fundamental knowledge of rules and regulations that impact the day-to-day operations of a rental housing business, including the Residential Tenancy Act, Human Rights Code and Personal Information Protection Act. For a small fee, landlords can access the course and after successfully completing the program, receive the I Rent It Right™ certificate and be listed on the Landlord Registry™ where renters can find responsible landlords to rent from.