The British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act & Student Housing – Your Rights As A Tenant

Monday, July 31, 2017

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The BC Residential Tenancies Act can be a pretty intimidating document for a student to try and understand; with much more legal jargon than a lease! Nonetheless, the RTA is a document that every student renter should have a basic understanding of. Here is a translation of some key sections of the RTA and how they apply to student renters in British Columbia.  

Please note that we are not legal professionals at and cannot provide legal advice. The following information is a basic overview and interpretation of the RTA, highlighting some important sections that relate to student renters.


1. Is a lease agreement required, regardless of the renting situation?

Yes. All BC rentals are required to have a written tenancy agreement, whether it’s a fixed-term or periodic rental arrangement.

13 (1) A landlord must prepare in writing every tenancy agreement entered into on or after January 1, 2004.

2. Is it legal for a landlord in British Columbia to use a “no-pets” clause?

Yes. A landlord may prohibit pets or have specific conditions and criteria for accepting pets.

18 (1) A tenancy agreement may include terms or conditions doing either or both of the following:
(a) prohibiting pets, or restricting the size, kind or number of pets a tenant may keep on the residential property;
(b) governing a tenant's obligations in respect of keeping a pet on the residential proper


3. Is a landlord required to give me receipts for rent payments?

A landlord is only required to provide rent receipts for rent paid in cash.  

26(2) A landlord must provide a tenant with a receipt for rent paid in cash.


4. What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can request?

A landlord may set a security deposit or pet damage deposit that is not greater than the equivalent of half one month’s rent.

19 (1) A landlord must not require or accept either a security deposit or a pet damage deposit that is greater than the equivalent of 1/2 of one month's rent payable under the tenancy agreement.

5. Can a landlord prohibit or restrict me from having guests over?

Assuming this is a rental unit where there are no shared common areas between the landlord and the tenant, the landlord cannot prohibit guests or interfere with the tenants’ quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the rental accommodation. 

28 A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment including, but not limited to, rights to the following:
(a) reasonable privacy;
(b) freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
(c) exclusive possession of the rental unit subject only to the landlord's right to enter the rental unit in accordance with section 29 [landlord's right to enter rental unit restricted];
d) use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference.

6. What about my boyfriend/girlfriend - can a landlord prohibit them from coming over or staying the night?

Assuming the same as #5, a landlord cannot prohibit a boyfriend/girlfriend from staying the night, as this could be considered as interfering with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the accommodation.

7. Can my landlord require me to provide post-dated rent cheques?

According to CMHC, landlords may request post-dated cheques.


8. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to on-campus housing or housing owned and operated by a college or university?

The RTA does not apply to living accommodations provided by educational institutions as per:

4 (b) living accommodation owned or operated by an educational institution and provided by that institution to its students or employees.


9. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to rental housing where there are shared areas with the property owner (landlord)?

If a student shares a rental accommodation with the landlord that involves sharing a bathroom or kitchen area, the RTA does not apply.

4 (b) living accommodation in which the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner of that accommodation.

10. How much notice must a landlord provide before entering a rental unit?

Generally speaking, a landlord must provide at least 24 hours of notice to a tenant before entering the rental property.

29 (1) A landlord must not enter a rental unit that is subject to a tenancy agreement for any purpose unless one of the following applies:

(a) the tenant gives permission at the time of the entry or not more than 30 days before the entry;
(b) at least 24 hours and not more than 30 days before the entry, the landlord gives the tenant written notice that includes the following information:
(i) the purpose for entering, which must be reasonable;
(ii) the date and the time of the entry, which must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. unless the tenant otherwise agrees;
(c) the landlord provides housekeeping or related services under the terms of a written tenancy agreement and the entry is for that purpose and in accordance with those terms;
(d) the landlord has an order of the director authorizing the entry;
(e) the tenant has abandoned the rental unit;
(f) an emergency exists and the entry is necessary to protect life or property.


11. Under what circumstances can a landlord enter a rental property without providing proper notice?

There are only a few situations in which a landlord is legally allowed to enter a rental unit without providing notice, most commonly being due to emergency repairs. Other reasons are cited above in section 29 (1) (d) & (e).

33 (1) In this section, "emergency repairs" means repairs that are

(a) urgent,
(b) necessary for the health or safety of anyone or for the preservation or use of residential property, and
(c) made for the purpose of repairing
(i) major leaks in pipes or the roof,
(ii) damaged or blocked water or sewer pipes or plumbing fixtures,
(iii) the primary heating system,
(iv) damaged or defective locks that give access to a rental unit,
(v) the electrical systems, or
(vi) in prescribed circumstances, a rental unit or residential property.


 12. Does a tenant need written approval from the landlord to sublet?

Yes. The original tenant is required to obtain written consent from the landlord to permit subletting.  

34 (1) Unless the landlord consents in writing, a tenant must not assign a tenancy agreement or sublet a rental unit.

(2) If a fixed term tenancy agreement is for 6 months or more, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold the consent required under subsection (1).
(3) A landlord must not charge a tenant anything for considering, investigating or consenting to an assignment or sublease under this section.


13. How much notice must a tenant provide before terminating or ending a lease?

A tenant must provide at least one month's notice, but some different terms apply, depending on whether it’s a periodic tenancy or a fixed term tenancy.

45 (1) A tenant may end a periodic tenancy by giving the landlord notice to end the tenancy effective on a date that
(a) is not earlier than one month after the date the landlord receives the notice, and
(b) is the day before the day in the month, or in the other period on which the tenancy is based, that rent is payable under the tenancy agreement.

(2) A tenant may end a fixed term tenancy by giving the landlord notice to end the tenancy effective on a date that
(a) is not earlier than one month after the date the landlord receives the notice,
(b) is not earlier than the date specified in the tenancy agreement as the end of the tenancy, and
(c) is the day before the day in the month, or in the other period on which the tenancy is based, that rent is payable under the tenancy agreement.


SEE ALSO: What Can My Landlord Evict Me For? 

The Team