Residential Tenancy Act changes for renters facing eviction

New Residential Tenancy Act changes help renters facing eviction

The provincial government recently amended the rules in the Residential Tenancy Act about eviction related to renovations and demolitions. This is in addition to previous changes to the Residential Tenancy Act that limit the use of vacate clauses and eliminate geographic-based rent increases.

The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) answers thousands of calls each year and the most common complaint we hear about is eviction. Tenants across BC are struggling to find safe and secure rental housing. Fortunately, the new rules in the Residential Tenancy Act about so-called “renovictions” and “demovictions” strengthen renters’ rights in this area.

Here’s an overview of the key changes:

Increased notice and dispute periods

The provincial government has doubled the notice period for evictions related to renovations and demolitions. If a landlord wants to demolish a rental unit or make significant renovations that require vacant possession, they are now required to use a Four Month Eviction Notice for Landlord’s Use of Property instead of the previous Two Month Notice.

In addition, the Residential Tenancy Act requires that landlords serve this type of eviction notice in “good faith,” which means they must honestly intend to follow through with what is stated on the notice. A landlord should never serve a Four Month Eviction Notice with the intention of re-renting the unit at a significantly higher rent once the tenant moves out.

If you have doubts about your landlord’s intentions, you can challenge your eviction notice through the Residential Tenancy Branch dispute resolution system. As part of the recent amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act, the deadline to challenge a Four Month Eviction Notice has been increased to 30 days from 15 days.

If your landlord has not obtained the necessary permits required by law or cannot show that they require vacant possession for an extended period, an arbitrator may decide to cancel your eviction notice. Although the notice period and dispute period have both doubled for this type of eviction, tenants are still entitled to only one month of rent as compensation.

You can apply for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch website.

Handing over keys

Right of first refusal

In rental properties containing five or more units, tenants being evicted due to renovations or repairs now have a “right of first refusal” to return to their unit once the work has been completed. Although this may seem like a great opportunity, the new rent for the renovated unit can be set at any amount.

If you are interested in being offered a new tenancy agreement for your renovated unit, you need to provide your landlord with written notice of your intention to use your right of first refusal.

This will require your landlord to inform you of the date your renovated unit will be available, and offer you a new tenancy agreement for that effective date at least 45 days before the completion of the renovations or repairs. If your landlord does not follow the rules about the right of first refusal, you could be entitled to 12 months rent as compensation.

For more information on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in BC, visit the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre’s website and earn a certificate through their free video-based online course, Renting It Right.

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