|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, 2018.|
DO: complete a move-in condition inspection. If you turn down your landlord’s offer to participate in one, you could lose your right to reclaim your security deposit and/or pet damage deposit.
DO NOT: forget to secure your new home. You have the right to ask your landlord to re-key your locks at no charge.
Move-in condition inspection report
At the start of your tenancy, you and your landlord should walk through your rental unit and complete a move-in condition inspection report. This is a chance to fill out a checklist and document the condition of your new home. Completing this report when you move in, and then again when you move out, can help determine how much damage, if any, has been caused during your tenancy.
There is a good chance your landlord will use the standard Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Condition Inspection Report. However, if they choose to use their own custom form, it should still contain all the standard information required by law – just like the RTB form.
Scheduling an inspection
According to section 17 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, your landlord must offer you at least two opportunities – between 8am and 9pm – to complete the move-in condition inspection. If you do not accept their first offer, your landlord is required to serve you with the RTB form, “Notice of Final Opportunity to Schedule a Condition Inspection”. If you are still unavailable for the second opportunity, you can ask someone else to participate on your behalf. Even if you are available to participate in the inspection, you may still want to consider bringing a friend or family member. Ideally, the move-in condition inspection report should be completed on the day your tenancy begins when the rental unit is still empty of your belongings. See section 23 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) for more information.
Pets: If you get a pet after the start of your tenancy, you and your landlord are required to complete another condition inspection report.
Participating in the inspection
It can be a good idea to take photos and videos during the inspection, especially if you disagree with your landlord about the condition of the rental unit. Once you have completed the condition inspection, make sure to sign and date the report. If you disagree with your landlord about any part of the inspection, there should be space on the form to list your concerns. If you do not sign the report because you disagree with it, it may be difficult to prove that you participated in the inspection. Your landlord must give you a copy of the completed report within seven days of completing the inspection. Keep your copy in a safe place and take photos for added protection.
Consequences for not following the law
If your landlord does not give you a chance to participate in a move-in or move-out condition inspection, or does not provide you with a copy of either report within the required timelines, they lose the right to claim against your security or pet damage deposit for damage to the rental unit. Conversely, if you fail to participate in an inspection after receiving two opportunities, you may lose the right to have your deposit(s) returned. See sections 24 and 36 of the RTA for more information.
Rental unit must be suitable for occupation
According to section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act, your landlord must ensure that your new rental unit is reasonably suitable for occupation, given the age, character, and location of the unit. If there is something wrong with your new home, you are not allowed to change your mind and not move in. Instead of backing out of your agreement, you will have to either request that your landlord fix the problem, or apply for dispute resolution to seek a repair order.
Locks and keys
You have the right to feel safe and secure in your new home. To ensure that previous tenants no longer have access to your rental unit, ask your landlord to provide you with a new set of keys. Your landlord cannot charge you a fee for re-keying the locks at the start of your tenancy. See section 25 of the Residential Tenancy Act for more information.
Tenant insurance is yet another cost to consider in BC’s expensive rental housing market. If you are already struggling to pay your rent and bills, you may decide to pass on this additional expense. Tenant insurance may not be for everyone, but keep in mind that you could be putting yourself at risk by not having it. In addition, some landlords require tenants to have tenant insurance, so it is important to understand what you have agreed to as part of your tenancy agreement. At the very least, consider doing some research on tenant insurance; it is probably more affordable than you think, and it could end up saving you in a time of crisis.
Most tenant insurance policies cover the following:
- Personal possessions: Tenant insurance can cover your lost clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, etc. For example, if there is a major flood in your rental unit, you might be able to use your tenant insurance to replace your personal possessions.
- Liability: Imagine you forget to turn off the stove and start a serious fire. If you cause damage to other tenants’ rental units, you might be able to use your tenant insurance to pay for those expensive repairs or damaged possessions.
- Displacement: Natural disasters can force tenants to leave their homes temporarily. For example, if you are displaced due to a wildfire, tenant insurance might pay for your hotel and living expenses until you are able to return.
Tenant insurance policies can vary from company-to-company, and person-to-person. Some policies will replace stolen belongings with brand new items rather than items based on their current value, while others may not cover burglary at all if you live with multiple unrelated roommates. In addition, the cost of tenant insurance can vary depending on your credit, and whether you have had insurance in the past. You will have to do some research to find the company and policy that best fits your situation.
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