Evictions

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

Do insist on receiving a written eviction notice on a proper government form. Don't sign a mutual agreement to end tenancy form, unless you want to move out and you do not expect to get compensation for moving.

Notice

Your landlord can only evict you for certain reasons set out in law, and must give you written notice. Landlords should use a form from the Residential Tenancy Branch. On the notice, the landlord must provide information required by law, including reasons for the eviction and how you can challenge the eviction. If the landlord does not use this form or provide required information, the notice may not be legal. Check in the forms section of the Residential Tenancy Branch website. Never ignore an eviction notice, even if you think it is not legal.

Challenging an eviction

You can challenge an eviction by applying for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch. The eviction notice must state the reason you are being evicted. Each type of eviction has a different notice period to move out. There are time limits for applying to challenge an eviction, so act quickly. Below are the types of evictions, reasons, and number of days you have to move out or challenge the eviction.

What if the landlord doesn’t follow the rules?

If the landlord just tells you to get out, or gives you a notice that is not on the proper form, don’t ignore it. Write a letter to the landlord and say that the eviction is not legal. Keep the eviction notice and a copy of your letter.

You can use TRAC's template demand letter, Response to Illegal Eviction Notice.

Illegal activity

Under the Residential Tenancy Act a landlord can evict a tenant for illegal activity. Depending on the severity of the illegal activity the landlord may give the tenant a one month notice to move out, or may apply for a Residential Tenancy Branch order to get the tenant out right away. A tenant does not have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to be evicted for illegal activity. The standard of proof for ending a tenancy for illegal activity is the same as it is for ending the tenancy for cause. It is based on a "balance of probabilities."

What sort of illegal activities can a tenant be evicted for?

Not just any illegal activity is grounds for eviction. In order for a landlord to end a tenancy due to illegal activity, the illegal activity must:

  • cause or be likely to cause damage to the landlord’s property,
  • adversely affect or be likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property, or
  • jeopardize, or be likely to jeopardize, a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord.

For more information about illegal activity that would be grounds for an eviction see the Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline 32. See sections 47 and 56 of the RTA.

Eviction for not paying rent

  • It is a 10 day notice.
  • You have 5 days to apply for dispute resolution.

Your landlord can evict you for not paying all or part of the rent. Your landlord must wait at least one day after the rent was due before giving you an eviction notice.

If you get an eviction notice because you did not pay your rent, you have five days to pay. If you pay all the rent within five days, the notice is canceled. Bring a witness or get a receipt to prove you paid the rent. If you don’t pay the rent within five days, you must move out at the end of the 10 days from when you received the eviction notice. Under the Direct Request Process, the landlord can apply for an order of possession without going to a hearing. Never ignore an eviction notice. The landlord can also take you to dispute resolution to get back any rent you owe. Being evicted for non-payment of rent does not mean that you do not have to pay the rent. You can be evicted and still owe rent. If you have a dispute with your landlord it is best to pay your rent and deal with the dispute through dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch. See sections 46 and 66 of the RTA.

Eviction for cause

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  • It is a 1-month notice.
  • You have 10 days to apply for dispute resolution.

The reasons for a one-month eviction are listed on the second or back page of the notice to end tenancy form. The most common reasons for a one-month eviction notice are:

  • disturbing your neighbours,
  • repeatedly paying your rent late (three times would be considered "repeated"),
  • seriously damaging your place or the building,
  • not fixing damage done by you or your guests within a reasonable time,
  • causing danger to your neighbours, landlord, or landlord's employees,
  • too many people living in your place,
  • illegal activity that adversely affects the landlord, building or other occupants of the building, or
  • breaking a rule in your tenancy agreement and ignoring a written warning from your landlord.

There are other reasons for a one-month eviction. Read the notice form carefully. You can fight this kind of eviction notice. If your landlord isn’t telling the truth, or if you think the situation is not serious enough to evict you, you can ask for an RTB dispute resolution hearing to overturn the eviction notice. You must apply for a dispute resolution hearing within 10 days of receiving the notice.

If you decide not to fight the eviction, you have one full month (up to the last day of the month following the month you got the notice) before you must move out. Sometimes a landlord puts the wrong date on an eviction notice. If you aren’t sure when you must leave, phone the Tenant Information Line or the Residential Tenancy Branch. See sections 47 and 48 of the RTA.

Eviction for "landlord use" of property

  • It is a 2-month notice.
  • You have 15 days to apply for dispute resolution.

Even if you never had a problem, your landlord can evict you because they want to use the property. The reasons for a two-month eviction are listed on the second or back page of the notice to end tenancy form. The most common reasons for a two-month eviction notice are:

  • the landlord or the landlord’s children or parents want to move in,
  • your place was sold and the new owner wants to move in (intending to sell or putting the place on the market is not a reason),
  • the landlord wants to demolish the building
  • the building is being converted to condominiums,
  • the landlord wants to renovate your place and the renovations require that the place is empty, or
  • you no longer qualify for a subsidized rental unit (in this last case you are not entitled to compensation).

There are other reasons for a two-month eviction. Read the notice form carefully. This kind of eviction notice gives you two full months before you must move out. To fight it, you must apply for a dispute resolution hearing within 15 days of receiving the notice. See section 49 of the RTA.

Permits are needed for most change of use evictions

If your landlord wants to evict you to demolish, renovate or convert your place to another use, they must already have permits from the city. Your municipal hall can tell you which permits your landlord needs, and whether your landlord has them. Some cities and towns have special rules if a landlord wants to evict you to demolish the building. The landlord may also need a permit to evict you for renovations or condominium conversion. You can check this with City Hall.

Compensation or last month free

If you are given an eviction notice for "landlord use" you are entitled to one month’s rent as compensation from your landlord. The landlord must either pay you this money or give you the last month’s rent free.

You can give short notice

Because it isn't your fault if you're evicted for landlord use, the law allows you to give short notice to your landlord. You can move out with a minimum of 10 days notice if you find another place before the two months are up. Put your notice in writing. Sign and date the letter to your landlord, and include your current address. Keep a copy of the letter. When you give short notice, you only have to pay for the days that you actually live there (a minimum of 10 days). If you already paid the full month's rent, your landlord has to pay you back for the days you didn't live there. You are still entitled to the equivalent of one month's rent as compensation even if you give your ten day notice to move early.

If the landlord doesn't do what the notice said

If the landlord does not use the property for the reason stated on the eviction notice, you can ask for compensation. For example, your landlord might evict you because their immediate relative is moving in, but later you find out that the relative didn’t move in. If for at least six months after you moved the place was not used for the purpose stated on the notice, the landlord owes you the equivalent of double your monthly rent.

Leases and evictions for landlord use

If you have a lease (also called a fixed term tenancy agreement), you cannot be evicted for landlord use before the lease runs out. However, if your lease states that at the end of the term of the lease you have to move out, then you have to move out and the landlord does not have to compensate you.

Mutual agreement to end tenancy

A mutual agreement to end tenancy form is a form that both you and your landlord can sign agreeing that your tenancy will end on a certain day. You do not have to sign this form unless you want to sign it. If you do sign it, then you are agreeing to move out, rather than being evicted. That means that you won’t get compensation for moving. It is only a good idea for a tenant to sign a mutual agreement to end tenancy form when you want permission to break a lease or otherwise want to move out early.

Early eviction

In special cases, your landlord can evict you in a hurry (like in a few days). But the landlord can only do this if you cause an extremely serious problem, for example:

  • threatening or beating up other tenants,
  • doing very serious damage (trashing a place),
  • putting your landlord or other tenants in danger (like starting a fire in your suite), or
  • illegal activity that poses an immediate risk to the landlord, building or other occupants.

Your landlord must have an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch to evict you in this way. You will receive a notice of the order of possession hearing. You must go to the hearing if you want to fight the eviction. The landlord does not have to give you an eviction notice before applying for a hearing. See section 56 of the RTA.

Applying for dispute resolution

To fight an eviction, you must apply for a dispute resolution hearing through the Residential Tenancy Branch or Service BC Centre.

Vancouver area: 604-660-1020
Outside Vancouver area: 1-800-665-8779

Order to move out

Your landlord can ask the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order of possession in the following two situations:

  • your landlord served you with a Notice to End Tenancy and you failed to dispute it within the required timeline, or
  • you did dispute the Notice to End Tenancy, but the Residential Tenancy Branch has refused to cancel the notice.

If your landlord requests an order of possession in either of these two situations, a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator will grant the request.

Even after getting an order of possession, the only legal way a landlord can forcibly evict you is by obtaining a writ of possession from the BC Supreme Court, and then hiring a court bailiff to enforce the writ. It is illegal for a landlord to remove your belongings from the rental unit without a writ and an authorized court bailiff. However, be aware that if you stay past the date on an order of possession, you will be liable to pay the landlord compensation for the extra time you stayed at the unit. As well, if the landlord has to resort to hiring a court bailiff, you will be liable for the court bailiff fees.

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Bailiffs

The Attorney General publishes a list of authorized court bailiffs. Only the companies on this list are allowed to enforce a writ of possession.

Before using a court bailiff to evict you from your rental unit your landlord must do all of the following:

  • Serve you with a copy of the order of possession.
  • Wait for the 2-day review period to expire. (Note: If you file an application for review during the 2-day review period, the RTB might put the order of possession on hold until your review application is decided. If that happens, your landlord has to wait until the review is decided, before moving on to the next step.)
  • Take the order of possession down to the BC Supreme Court Registry, and get a writ of possession from the court. This is a very quick process.
  • Once the writ of possession is issued, hire a court-appointed bailiff to evict you.

Warning

There are people in BC who make their living by pressuring tenants to move out, even though they’re not authorized to carry out an eviction. If someone comes to your door claiming to be a bailiff, ask for identification and see if they are on the list of authorized court bailiffs.

Court bailiffs carrying out an eviction can seize and sell your personal property to pay their fees, but keep in mind that many items are exempt from seizure and sale, including:

  • necessary clothing,
  • household furnishings 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.

If your belongings are removed from your rental unit by court bailiffs, contact the court bailiff company right away about getting them back. Normally court bailiffs put removed property into storage, and you have two days to claim these exemptions.

Role of police

Neither the police nor the RCMP has the authority to evict tenants. The police may attend the occasion to prevent the breach of peace but they cannot play any role in evicting the tenant. However, the police will attend and remove the tenant if required to do so by the court bailiff.

Legislation and links

Legislation

Links

Resources and forms


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