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British Columbia is a fantastic but expensive place to live. Renting is especially pricey in certain areas, even outside the city centers. In fact, most B.C. residents pay at least $1,000 a month in rent alone, which is very high considering all the other costs the average person has to deal with, like groceries and utilities.
Sadly, those overwhelming costs are just one thing that can lead to you getting evicted. Read this to learn what your rights are when you receive an eviction notice in British Columbia.
Reasons A Landlord Can Evict You In British Columbia
Every province and territory has different regulations for how and when a landlord can evict a tenant from a residential property. In BC, your landlord can serve you with 4 types of eviction notices:
10-Day Eviction Notice
This is the most common and severe eviction notice and is normally given when you haven’t paid rent or utilities for an unreasonable amount of time. If the eviction is because you didn’t pay utilities, your landlord is only allowed to send you a 10-Day Eviction Notice after they’ve given you a written 30-day warning that you didn’t heed.
Once you’ve gotten a 10-Day notice, you’ll have 5 days to dispute it or pay what you owe. If you don’t pay or apply for a dispute by then, the landlord can contact the Residential Tenancies Branch to get an “Order of Possession” and won’t have to take part in a dispute resolution hearing. You’ll then be forced to vacate after day 10.
One Month Eviction Notice
There are several things that can cause your landlord to send you a One Month Eviction Notice, such as:
- Paying rent late too many times within a short period
- Doing major damage to your unit or building without compensating for it
- Disturbing or endangering your landlord or neighbors
- Conducting illegal activities that affect your property, landlord or neighbors
- Exceeding the landlord’s limit for permanent occupants in your rental
- Breaking your lease terms or failing to heed a landlord’s written warning
- Doing things your landlord has forbidden (smoking, owning pets, etc.)
Essentially, if you do anything that goes against British Columbia’s Residential Tenancies Act or your landlord’s instructions, you could get served a One Month Eviction Notice. While your lease may not actually list a maximum number of renters allowed in your unit, the landlord can still evict you if they feel that the amount is unjust.
When you receive a One Month Eviction Notice and don’t dispute it, you’ll have until the last day of the following month to vacate, even if that time exceeds a true calendar month. According to Section 53 of the Residential Tenancies Act, your landlord must give you the full grace period to move.
However, the landlord can apply for a dispute resolution hearing if you’re responsible for serious problems and if you don’t show up for your hearing or present solid evidence during it, you may be ordered to vacate early.
Two Month Eviction Notice
Typically, a Two Month Eviction Notice is given for less serious reasons but is still legal under Section 49 and 49.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act. It can be served when:
- Your landlord allows a close family member to occupy the rental
- Your landlord sells the property to someone
- The buyer offers the unit to one of their close family members
- You’re no longer eligible to lease a subsidized rental property
According to the RTA, only the spouses, children or parents of a landlord/buyer can qualify as “close family members” during a Two Month Eviction Notice.
Four Month Eviction Notice
Otherwise known as a “Landlord’s Use of Property Eviction Notice”, section 49 of the Residential Tenancies Act also states that a BC landlord can give you a Four Month Eviction Notice when they’re about to:
- Do renovations that require the occupant(s) to vacate for a lengthy period
- Have the rental property demolished
- Turn the rental unit into something other than a residential property
- Give the rental unit to the property manager or superintendent
- Use the Strata Property Act to convert the property into strata lots
- Use the Cooperative Association Act to convert the unit into cooperative housing
To serve you with a Four Month Eviction Notice, your landlord must obtain any legal permits needed to convert their residential property. Once you receive the notice, you can accept it, dispute it or use your “right of first refusal”, which allows you to return to the rental once modifications are done, provided the property has 5 units or more.
If you want to remain a tenant, make sure to inform your landlord in writing that you’re going to use your right of first refusal. Unless they contest it, the landlord must then offer you a new rental agreement and at least 45 days notice as to when their conversions are scheduled for completion. Watch out, this means your landlord could raise your rent.
If you don’t dispute the eviction, you’ll have until the last day of the fourth month to move. Thankfully, since Two and Four Month notices aren’t given to bad tenants, your landlord must offer you one month of rent money to cover moving costs or let you live in the unit for the last month rent-free (unless you don’t qualify for a subsidized rental).
Check out the rent control laws in BC and across Canada.
What Can You Do If You’ve Been Given An Eviction Notice In BC?
If your landlord serves you with an eviction notice, there are a few things you can do to resolve the situation peacefully, such as:
Talk It Over
Some landlords are open to negotiation. If you haven’t been a terrible renter and the landlord is selling the unit, giving it to someone or they need you out for renovations, a deal might be possible. At the very least, they may allow you to buy the property, help you transfer to another unit or let you move back in with no rent increase.
Unfortunately, if you’re being evicted for more serious reasons, like bad behaviour, you may be out of luck. That said, if you discuss the situation openly with your landlord or write them an explanatory letter, they could give you a break or offer more options. Call the Residential Tenancy Branch if you need help with tenant-landlord negotiations.
File A Dispute
If your landlord gives you a questionable eviction notice, suddenly increases your rent or refuses to repair part of your rental, then you may need to apply for a dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch. The RTB is the authority that handles any tenant/landlord disputes for money claims of $35,000 or less.
Like a court trial, the dispute process involves a hearing where you and your landlord can defend yourselves in front of an arbitrator, who will consider the evidence each party presents and make an impartial choice as to whose claim is valid.
Each type of eviction has a different time frame for when a dispute can be filed. If the dispute application is verified by the designated date, the eviction notice will be suspended until the arbitrator has come to an official decision.
Landlords can also use a dispute resolution to get compensated for unpaid rent and damages or get an Order of Possession when a tenant doesn’t vacate their unit on time. However, if either party wishes to claim more than $35,000 in compensation, they must do it through the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Every B.C. eviction notice comes with its own rules and mandatory moving times:
- 10-Day Eviction – This the most serious type of eviction and requires you move by 1 PM on the tenth day after you receive it, usually for missing rent or utilities.
- One Month Eviction – This other severe eviction forces you to vacate on the last day of the month following receival of the notice for improper usage of the rental.
- Two Month Eviction – This eviction notice is given for non-serious issues and gives you until the last day of the second month after its delivery to vacate.
- Four Month Eviction – Even if you’re a good tenant, a landlord can evict you by the last day of the fourth month following the notice to convert their property.
If you can’t negotiate with your landlord or your dispute gets denied, moving out might be the way to go. No matter how inconvenient it is to find a new dwelling, it’s often better than losing a dispute or renting from someone you have a bad relationship with.
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Eviction Notice Dispute Deadlines In British Columbia
As mentioned, every eviction notice has different periods for when a tenant is able to submit a dispute resolution to the court or Residential Tenancy Branch:
- 10-Day Notice to End Tenancy = 5 days maximum following notice
- One Month Notice to End Tenancy = 10 days maximum following notice
- Two Month Notice to End Tenancy = 15 days maximum following notice
- Four Month Notice to End Tenancy = 30 days maximum following notice
The Dispute Resolution Process
In British Columbia, here’s how an eviction dispute resolution normally goes:
- Scheduling the Hearing – The applicant must send their application to the Residential Tenancy Branch on time and cover a filing fee. If approved, the RTB will set the applicant’s hearing date and prepare them a Notice of Dispute Resolution Proceeding document explaining the procedure. Applications can be sent by phone, mail, online or in-person at a BC Service Location or the RTB.
- Before the Hearing – Within 3 days of it’s availability, the applicant must serve the Notice of Resolution Proceeding Package to the landlord or the RTB will consider it invalid (documents sent by mail must be postmarked within 3 days of receiving them). The hearing will then take place by telephone conference call, unless a party submits a Request For Alternate Hearing Format (RTB-36).
- During the Hearing – Both parties can defend their case before the arbitrator, who will review all testimonies, evidence and witnesses. The session will last 1 hour and if more time is needed, another hearing may be arranged. Evidence will not be considered after a decision is reached and private recordings aren’t allowed unless a licensed Court Reporter is requested for an official transcript.
- After the Hearing – Once the arbitrator has reviewed all evidence, information and lawful precedents, they will reach a final, legally-binding decision within 30 days of the hearing. Their decision may also get overturned following a review hearing and a new arbitrator will be elected. If the matter is still too complex, the Residential Tenancy Branch might refer the case to the Supreme Court.
Check out this list of 10 common mistakes renters make.
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Afraid Of Being Evicted In British Columbia?
If you’re struggling to make rent or get along with your landlord, it may be safer to simply move out and start fresh. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself when you receive a questionable eviction notice. Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information about eviction rules in British Columbia today.
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