My Landlord Wants to Keep My Deposit

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BC landlords are allowed to charge half of one month’s rent as a security deposit and, if pets are allowed, an additional half of one month’s rent as a pet damage deposit. A landlord can only ask for one pet damage deposit, regardless of the number of pets allowed in the rental unit.

First Steps[edit]

In order to get your deposit returned, you must first provide your landlord with a forwarding address in writing within one year of the end of your tenancy. See TRAC’s template letter, Request for the Return of a Security / Pet Damage Deposit. Once you have provided your forwarding address and your tenancy has officially ended, your landlord has 15 days to do one of three things:

  • return your deposit,
  • get your written consent to keep some or all of your deposit, or
  • apply for dispute resolution to keep some or all of your deposit.

Your landlord can return your deposit by delivering it in person, mailing it, leaving it in your mailbox or mail slot, or sending it electronically. If your landlord returns your deposit by electronic means, they are not allowed to charge you a fee.

What happens next?[edit]

Your landlord cannot decide on their own to keep your deposit. If they believe they are entitled to it, they must obtain written permission from either you or the Residential Tenancy Branch. If the 15-day deadline passes without your landlord returning the deposit, obtaining your written consent, or applying for dispute resolution, you are allowed to file your own application against your landlord for double the amount of the deposit.

Where to get help[edit]

See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:

Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Andrew Sakamoto, March 2017.

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