Rental agreements

4. After moving in

House rules

Landlords can set reasonable rules about the use of the premises. These rules have to be in writing, and must be provided to the tenant. You should always ask the landlord if there are any house rules before you sign a tenancy agreement. (s.12) If you think a rule or obligation is not reasonable, you can ask the rental officer for help. (s.12(4))

Quiet enjoyment

Landlords and tenants are not allowed to unreasonably disturb each other. This does not just relate to making noise. Everyone who uses the complex has to be able to use it without being unreasonably disturbed. In certain situations, tenants can be evicted for disturbing others. The tenant can be held responsible for his or her guests’ disruptive behaviour.

If a tenant is disturbing other tenants, the landlord has to deal with the problem. If the landlord does not, the tenants can ask the rental officer for help. The landlord can’t disturb the tenant, either. (s.34, 43 and 44)

Good repair

The landlord has to keep the rental unit in a good state of repair, following all health, safety, maintenance and occupancy standards required by law. It doesn’t matter if the tenant knew things needed to be repaired before moving in. After the tenancy starts, the tenant has to tell the landlord if anything needs to be fixed.

If the rental unit is a single premises, like a house, the landlord and tenant can agree that the tenant will do the repairs. Even in this situation, the landlord remains responsible for repairs required as a result of reasonable wear and tear, or as a result of fire, water, storm or other catastrophic event.

If the landlord does not make repairs that are needed, the tenant can apply to a rental officer to pay some or all of the rent to the rental officer as an incentive for the landlord to make the repairs. If the rental officer accepts the rent, it is given to the landlord once the problems are fixed. (s.30, 31 and 32)

When the landlord needs to enter

Sometimes the landlord needs to enter the unit. This is allowed for the following reasons:

  • For inspections at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • For inspections when the residential complex is being sold.
  • For inspections once every six months.
  • For inspections on the day the tenant is vacating the rental unit.
  • For inspections when the tenant wants to sublet or assign the unit.
  • For inspections when the tenant decides to get a pet.
  • For inspections when the tenancy is ending.
  • To perform the landlord’s obligations under the Act and the tenancy agreement.
  • When the landlord is arranging for a mortgage or insurance on the property.
  • To show the rental premises to prospective tenants or purchasers.

The landlord has to give 24 hours written notice before entering the unit. If the landlord and tenant agree, the tenant can let the landlord into the unit at any time. Normally, the landlord can only enter between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, unless he or she thinks the tenant has moved out. If there is an emergency, the landlord may enter without the tenant’s permission.

Sometimes the tenant objects to the time the landlord wants to enter the unit. In this situation, the tenant can suggest other hours, and if those hours are reasonable, the landlord must enter at that time. If the alternate hours the tenant suggests are not reasonable, the landlord can make an application to the rental officer (s.26 and 27).

Paying the rent

Tenants have to pay rent on time. If they don’t, the landlord can charge late fees or even ask the rental officer to evict the tenant. (s.41(2) and regulations)

The landlord cannot seize the tenant’s personal property to cover unpaid rent, or ask the tenant to pay rent early. (s.3, 13 and 35)

The rent can be increased once a year with three months’ notice to the tenant. (s.47 (1), (2) and (3))For example, it can go up every January. Even if there is a new landlord or new tenant, the rent on a unit cannot be increased until a year from the last increase. There is no limit to the amount of the increase. If the tenant does not want to pay the new amount, he or she can treat the notice of a rent increase as a notice to end the tenancy. (s.47 (4))

Change of landlord

Sometimes a new landlord will take over. When this happens, the new landlord has all of the same rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act and the tenancy agreement. The landlord needs to give tenants written notice that there is a new landlord. If the tenant is not sure who to pay the rent to, the rental officer can help to figure this out. (s.19 and 20)

Change of tenant

The tenant can assign or sublet the unit with the landlord’s written permission. The rental office has forms that can help with the process. The landlord can’t charge a fee for this, but can ask the tenant to pay reasonable expenses up to $50. (s.23) If the tenant thinks the landlord is unreasonably refusing to give permission, he or she can ask the rental officer to make a decision.

Assignment means that the tenant does not plan to come back to the unit. This can be done if the tenant has been in the unit for at least six months or has a fixed-term agreement at least six months long. The tenancy agreement continues with the new tenant. All of the rights and obligations in the tenancy agreement now apply only to the new tenant.

Subletting means that the tenant plans to come back. This is often done when the tenant is going away to work or school for a few months. In this situation, the tenant keeps all of the rights and obligations in the tenancy agreement. The subtenant is liable to the tenant for any breaches of the tenant’s obligations or his or her own obligations, and has to move out at the end of the sublet. (s.21, 22, 23 and 24)

Illegal activities

Tenants are not allowed to commit illegal activities in the rental property or allow anyone else to commit illegal activities. Common examples include bootlegging and drug dealing. The landlord can apply to the rental officer to evict the tenant in these situations. (s.46 (1), (2))

How long does the tenancy last?

Most monthly tenancy agreements automatically renew themselves unless the landlord or tenant take steps to end the tenancy agreement. That means that if the tenant wants to stay in the unit after the tenancy agreement is up, he or she usually does not have to do anything. (s.49) If the rental unit is a benefit of employment, the tenancy agreement does not automatically renew and is terminated if the employment ends. (s.56)

What happens if we can’t agree?

If the landlord and tenant disagree about an issue or problem, the first step is to read the tenancy agreement, the Residential Tenancies Act and its regulations. Usually, one of these documents will explain how to deal with the situation. If you still can’t agree, contact the rental office for help. The rental officer can give you information, help you to work out a solution, or make a decision you will both have to follow.

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