Evictions

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, 2018.

DO: dispute eviction notices within the required timelines. Failing to do so means that, from a legal standpoint, you are accepting the end of your tenancy and agreeing to move out.

DO NOT: let a landlord illegally kick you out of your rental unit. Only a court-approved bailiff can physically remove you and your possessions.

Types of evictions[edit]

Tenant being evicted.jpg

An eviction occurs when a landlord legally forces a tenant to move out of a rental unit. If your landlord wants to evict you, they must give you an approved notice with an acceptable reason for eviction according to the Residential Tenancy Act.

There are four main types of eviction notices:

  1. 10 Day Notice for Non-Payment of Rent;
  2. One Month Notice for Cause;
  3. Two Month Notice for Landlord’s Use of Property; and
  4. Four Month Notice for Landlord’s Use of Property.

10 Day Notice for Non-Payment of Rent[edit]

Your landlord can evict you for not paying rent, even if you are only a few dollars short or one day late. If you receive A 10 Day Eviction Notice, you have five days to pay up in order to cancel the eviction. Alternatively, if your landlord is lying, you have five days to apply for dispute resolution so that you can prove to an arbitrator that you did in fact pay your full rent on time. If you choose neither of those options within five days of receiving the eviction notice, you will be expected to move out by the 10th day. See section 46 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) for more information.

Direct Request: A 10 Day Eviction Notice is the most serious of the four types of evictions. If you do not pay your rent or apply for dispute resolution within five days of receiving the notice, your landlord can use the Residential Tenancy Branch’s “Direct Request” process to quickly obtain an Order of Possession without even participating in a dispute resolution hearing.

Utilities: If you fail to pay for utilities charges you owe, your landlord can give you a 10 Day Eviction Notice, but only after giving you 30 days written notice demanding payment.

No excuses: The RTA does not have any “hardship” provisions. This means that you can be evicted from your home even if you have a disability, lose your job, or it’s winter. In addition, being evicted for non-payment of rent does not relieve you of your responsibility to pay the full rent for that month. If you are evicted by the 11th day of the month, your landlord could still go after you for the entire month of rent.

One Month Notice for Cause[edit]

The most common reasons for receiving a One Month Eviction Notice are:

  • unreasonably disturbing your landlord or other occupants;
  • repeatedly paying rent late;
  • seriously damaging your rental unit or building;
  • not fixing or paying for damage caused by you, your guests, or your pets;
  • causing danger to your landlord or other occupants;
  • having too many occupants living in your rental unit;
  • engaging in illegal activity that negatively affects your rental unit, building, landlord, or other occupants; and
  • breaching a “material term” (serious rule) of your tenancy agreement and ignoring a written warning from your landlord.

There are other less common reasons for receiving a One Month Eviction Notice. For a full list, see section 47 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).

If you feel that your landlord has unfairly given you a One Month Eviction Notice, you have 10 days to challenge the notice by applying for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). At the hearing, you will be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of your case, but the burden of proof will be on your landlord to convince the arbitrator to uphold the eviction notice.

Repeated late payment of rent: You can receive a One Month Eviction Notice if you pay rent late at least three times within an unreasonable short period. See Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Policy Guideline 38 for more information.

Occupant limit: Your tenancy agreement may limit the number of permanent occupants allowed in your rental unit. If so, your landlord would have a strong case for eviction if you exceeded the maximum. However, even if your tenancy agreement does not include a term about the occupant limit, your landlord can still give you a One Month Eviction Notice for Cause under section 47(1)(c) of the RTA if they believe you have moved in an unreasonable number of roommates.

Move out date[edit]

If you do not dispute your eviction, you have until the last day of the next month to move out (assuming you pay rent on the 1st of the month). For example, if you receive a One Month Eviction Notice on March 5th, you would have to move out by April 30th. Sometimes a landlord will list the wrong move-out date on an eviction notice. If this is the case, the notice is still valid but, according to section 53 of the RTA, self-corrects to the legal move-out date. To avoid any misunderstandings with your landlord, it can be a good idea to write them and explain the law to ensure they understand that you are not illegally overholding the rental unit.

Early eviction[edit]

If you are causing extremely serious problems, your landlord can ask the RTB for permission to evict you before a One Month Eviction Notice would take effect. Your landlord is not required to give you an eviction notice before applying for this type of dispute resolution hearing. However, they must provide you with notice of the hearing so that you have a chance to present evidence and defend yourself to an arbitrator.

If an arbitrator determines that it would be unreasonable or unfair to the landlord or other occupants of your building to wait for a One Month Eviction Notice to take effect, your landlord will be given an Order of Possession to take back your rental unit on an earlier date. See section 56 of the RTA for more information.

Landlord's Use of Property Eviction Notices[edit]

Two Month Eviction Notices[edit]

According to sections 49 and 49.1 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), you may receive a Two Month Eviction Notice if:

  • your landlord, or a “close family member” of your landlord, wants to occupy your rental unit;
  • your rental unit was sold and the purchaser, or a “close family member” of the purchaser, wants to occupy your rental unit; or
  • you no longer qualify for your subsidized rental unit.

“Close family member”: The RTA defines a “close family member” as the landlord’s spouse, or the parents or children of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse.

If you would like to challenge a Two Month Eviction Notice, you have 15 days to apply for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). At the hearing, you will be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of your case, but the burden of proof will be on your landlord to convince the arbitrator to uphold the eviction notice.

Four Month Eviction Notices[edit]

According to section 49 of the RTA, your landlord can issue you a Four Month Eviction Notice if they plan to:

  • demolish a rental unit;
  • convert the residential property to strata lots under the Strata Property Act;
  • convert the residential property into cooperative housing under the Cooperative Association Act;
  • convert a rental unit for use by a caretaker, manager, or superintendent of the residential property; or
  • convert a rental unit to a non-residential use.

If you would like to challenge a Four Month Eviction Notice, you have 30 days to apply for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). At the hearing, you will be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of your case, but the burden of proof will be on your landlord to convince the arbitrator to uphold the eviction notice.

Evictions for renovations: The RTA also allows landlords to evict tenants, with four months’ notice, for major renovations that require a unit to be empty for an extended period. However, unlike other types of evictions, the landlord is required to apply for a dispute resolution hearing through the RTB, rather than serve an eviction notice on the tenant. This means that, for evictions for renovations, the onus to initiate dispute resolution proceedings is reversed. Instead of you being required to dispute an eviction notice by a certain deadline, your landlord is automatically required to apply for the RTB’s permission to evict you. At this mandatory dispute resolution hearing, you will be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of your case, but the burden of proof will be on your landlord to convince the arbitrator to approve the eviction.

Permits: Your landlord must obtain the necessary permits required by law before issuing you a Four Month Eviction Notice.

“Right of first refusal”: In residential properties containing five or more rental units, tenants being evicted due to renovations or repairs have a “right of first refusal” to return to their unit once the renovations or repairs have been completed.

If you are interested in being offered a new tenancy agreement for your renovated unit, provide your landlord with written notice of your intention to use your right of first refusal. This will require your landlord to, at least 45 days before the completion of the renovations or repairs, inform you of the date your renovated unit will be available and provide you with a new tenancy agreement for that effective date. Although this may sound like a great opportunity, the problem is that your landlord can set your new rent at whatever amount they desire.

There are strict penalties when it comes to this area of the law. If your landlord does not offer you a right of first refusal after you have given proper notice, they could end up owing you 12 months of your previous rent as compensation. See sections 51.2 and 51.3 of the RTA for more information.

Move out date[edit]

If you do not dispute a “landlord’s use” eviction notice, your move-out date will be two or four months later, on the last day of the month (assuming you pay rent on the 1st of the month). For example, if you receive a Four Month Eviction Notice on March 5th, you would have to move out by July 31st. Sometimes a landlord will list the wrong move-out date on an eviction notice. If this is the case, the notice is still valid but, according to section 53 of the RTA, self-corrects to the legal move-out date. To avoid any misunderstandings with your landlord, it can be a good idea to write them and explain the law to ensure that they do not think you are overholding.

Compensation[edit]

Landlord’s Use of Property Eviction Notices have nothing to do with bad behaviour. For this reason, if you receive a Two Month or Four Month Eviction Notice, you are entitled to one month rent as compensation to help with the financial burden of moving. Your landlord must either pay you this money or give you the last month rent free.

Exception: The one exception is if you are being evicted because you no longer qualify for your subsidized rental unit. If this is the case, you are not entitled to any compensation.

Tenant giving notice to move out early[edit]

If you want to move in to another rental unit before the two-month or four-month notice period has ended, section 50 of the RTA says that you can give your landlord 10 days written notice and move early. When giving short notice to move out, you are only required to pay for the days you actually live in the rental unit. For example, if you paid the full rent for the first month of a two-month notice period, but then gave 10 days written notice and moved out before the end of that first month, your landlord must pay you back for the days you did not live there. In addition, you are still entitled to one month rent as compensation for the second month of the two-month notice period.

Landlord did not do what the eviction notice said[edit]

Your landlord must follow through with the reason for your eviction. If your rental unit is not used for the stated purpose for at least six months, beginning within a reasonable period after the notice takes effect, your landlord may owe you 12 months of your previous rent as compensation. For example, a landlord may claim that they are moving in, but instead rent the unit to a new tenant at a higher rent.

Burden of proof: When applying for 12 months’ rent as compensation, the burden of proof will be on your landlord. This means that, while you will be given the opportunity to present evidence at the hearing, the onus will be on your landlord to convince the arbitrator that they used the property for the stated purpose of ending your tenancy. See section 51 of the RTA for more information.

Extenuating circumstances: The RTB has the power to excuse the landlord from paying 12 months’ rent as compensation in “extenuating circumstances”. For example, if a landlord ends a tenancy to move in a parent, and then the parent dies one month after moving in, the landlord may be excused because the situation that unfolded could not have been reasonably anticipated and was out of the landlord’s control. See RTB Policy Guideline 50 for more information.

Fixed term tenancies and Landlord’s Use Eviction Notices[edit]

If you have a fixed term tenancy agreement, you cannot be given a Two Month or Four Month Eviction Notice that takes effect before your contract has ended. If your landlord gives you this type of notice, it is still valid but, according to section 53 of the RTA, self-corrects to apply on the last day of your agreement.

Selling a rental unit[edit]

When an owner sells a rental unit, the tenant living in that unit may be evicted, but it is not automatic. The new landlord (purchaser) must honour the existing tenancy agreement and can only end it by following the same eviction rules that the previous landlord (seller) would have had to follow.

If the purchaser wants to occupy the rental unit or have a “close family member” occupy the unit, they can make a request in writing that the seller issue a Two Month Eviction Notice on their behalf, but only after all the conditions of the sale have been satisfied. If the purchaser does not plan on occupying the rental unit, or having a “close family member” occupy the unit, the purchaser will become the new landlord and the tenancy will continue under the existing agreement.

“Close family member”: The RTA defines a “close family member” as the landlord’s spouse, or the parents or children of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse.

Beware of mutual agreements to end tenancy: The Residential Tenancy Branch has a “Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy” form that tenants and landlords can use to end their tenancy on an agreed upon date. If your landlord wants to evict you for “landlord’s use”, be careful not to sign this form. Some landlords may try to use a Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy form, instead of an official eviction notice, to avoid having to pay one month rent as compensation.

Deadlines to dispute eviction notices[edit]

There are strict deadlines for disputing eviction notices:

  • 5 days to dispute a 10 Day Eviction Notice;
  • 10 days to dispute a One Month Eviction Notice;
  • 15 days to dispute a Two Month Eviction Notice; and
  • 30 days to dispute a Four Month Eviction Notice.

You must apply for dispute resolution within these deadlines. Failing to do so means that, from a legal standpoint, you are accepting the eviction notice and agreeing to move out.

Exceptions: Arbitrators do have the power to extend a deadline to apply for dispute resolution, but not beyond the effective date of an eviction notice. Extensions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, such as hospitalization that prevented a tenant from disputing an eviction notice on time.

Physically removing a tenant[edit]

There are strict rules when it comes to physically removing a tenant and their possessions from a rental unit. Here are the steps that your landlord must follow:

  1. Serve you with a copy of a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Order of Possession.
  2. Wait for the two-day review period to expire. (If you successfully file a RTB Application for Review Consideration during the two-day review period, the RTB will put your Order of Possession on hold. Your landlord must then wait to see if the review is decided in their favour before moving on to the next step.)
  3. Take the Order of Possession to the BC Supreme Court and obtain a Writ of Possession.
  4. Use the Writ of Possession to hire a court-approved bailiff.

Overholding: If you stay past the move-out date listed on an eviction notice or Order of Possession, you may end up owing your landlord some money. In addition, if your landlord hires a court-approved bailiff to remove you and your belongings from your rental unit, you may be held responsible for at least some of the associated costs.

Role of the police: The police do not have the authority to evict tenants on their own. However, a court-approved bailiff may ask them to attend an eviction to keep the peace while a tenant is being removed.

List of court-approved bailiffs[edit]

The Attorney General publishes a list of [www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/courthouse-services/bailiffs court-approved bailiffs]. Only the companies on this list can legally enforce a Writ of Possession on behalf of a landlord.

Warning: There are people in BC who are paid money to pressure tenants to move out even though they are not authorized to enforce a Writ of Possession. If someone comes to your door claiming to be a bailiff, always ask for identification.

Court bailiff rules[edit]

Court bailiffs carrying out an eviction can seize and sell your personal property to pay their fees. However, you have the right to claim exemptions to protect the following items:

  • necessary clothing;
  • household furniture and appliances worth up to $4,000;
  • one motor vehicle worth up to $5,000;
  • tools and other property worth up to $10,000, if they are used to earn income; and
  • medical and dental aids.

Bailiffs will often give you an opportunity to claim these exemptions when they first show up at your rental unit. If your belongings are taken before you have a chance to claim your exemptions, contact the bailiff company right away. You must claim your exemptions within two days of the date you found out that your property was seized.

Illegal lockouts[edit]

An illegal lockout could mean that you are without access to money, medication, work tools, and personal identification. If your landlord locks you out of your rental unit, contact TRAC, the RTB, a legal advocate, or a lawyer immediately. If your landlord continues to deny you access to your home, you will have to apply for dispute resolution to ask for an Order of Possession and monetary compensation. The RTB considers illegal lockouts a top priority when scheduling hearings.

Other ways a tenancy could end[edit]

There are sometimes exceptional circumstances that force tenancies to end unexpectedly. If a flood, fire, or earthquake leaves your rental unit unlivable, your tenancy agreement may be considered a “frustrated contract”, since it would be impossible for your tenancy to continue under those circumstances. See Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 34 for more information. You may also come across a situation where the property you are living in experiences a foreclosure. This can happen when a bank or another lender takes control of your rental property because the landlord can no longer pay their mortgage.

If you find yourself in one of these complicated situations, contact TRAC, the RTB, a legal advocate, or a lawyer to ask for additional information and assistance.



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