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What happens if my landlord sells?

BC is facing a rental housing crisis, which means it’s more important than ever to understand your legal rights as a tenant. Do you know what rules your landlord has to follow if they want to sell your rental property?  This is one of the most commonly misunderstood topics among tenants, so here is what the Residential Tenancy Act says about selling a tenanted property:

Q: Can I be evicted because my rental unit is for sale?

A: No, this is not a legal reason to evict a tenant under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) – the law in BC that governs tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities. Landlords are allowed to issue a Two Month Eviction Notice when they want to:

  • move in,
  • have “close family” move in,
  • make extensive renovations that require vacant possession, or
  • demolish the rental unit.

For whatever reason, the most common misunderstanding my organization – the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre – encounters, is that this type of eviction notice can also be issued when a rental property has been put up for sale. This is illegal – a seller is not allowed to evict a tenant in order to make their property appear more attractive to a potential buyer.

Q: Can I be evicted because my rental unit has been sold?

A: Yes, it’s possible – but not automatic!  When a rental property is sold, the rights of tenants living in the property are unaffected. The new landlord (purchaser) will have to honour the existing tenancy agreements, and can only end those tenancies by following the same eviction rules that the previous landlord (seller) would have had to follow.

If the purchaser wants to give a tenant a Two Month Eviction Notice in accordance with the RTA, they can make a request in writing that the seller issue that notice on their behalf, but only after all the conditions on which the sale depends have been satisfied.

Q: What happens if the purchaser wants to evict me?

A: If the purchaser has followed the law and requested that the seller issue you a Two Month Eviction Notice, you are entitled to two-months’ notice and one-month compensation. If you would like to remain in your rental unit for the duration of the two-month period, you can live there free for the second month. Alternatively, if you find a new place to live before the end of the two-month notice, you can give your landlord 10 days’ written notice to move out and still be entitled to your compensation.

Be careful to not sign a “Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy” form. Some landlords may try to have you sign this instead of giving you a Two Month Eviction Notice so that they don’t have to pay you any compensation.

Q: Is there any way I can challenge the eviction notice?

A: Yes, you always have the right to challenge any type of eviction notice. For Two Month Eviction Notices, you have 15 days to apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch. At the hearing, your landlord will have to prove that the eviction notice was issued in “good faith” and that they honestly intend to use your rental unit for the reason stated on the notice.

There’s still more to learn about tenants’ rights when a rental property is sold. Can the purchaser evict if the tenant has a fixed term tenancy?  And what are the rules about realtors showing the rental unit? What if the landlord doesn’t follow through with what they claimed on the eviction notice? For answers to all these questions, visit TRAC’s webpage on Selling a Rental Unit.

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