How to Give Notice

As a tenant, you are required to give at least one month’s written notice if you would like to move out of a rental unit. This means you must give one month’s notice before your rent is due. For example, if on the 16th of March you decide you would like to move out, you cannot give notice for a date earlier than 1st of May. However, if you decide you would like to move out on 29th of March, you can still give notice for the 1st of May. Notice must be in written form, containing the address of the rental unit, when the tenant plans to move out, and the tenant’s signature, and delivered to your landlord by hand delivery, dropping it in their mailbox, by fax, or by registered mail. Regardless of how you get the notice to your landlord, always keep a copy for your own record.

If you currently have a fixed lease term that does not state you need to move out at the end of the term, you will be required to complete that term before you can give notice. For example, if you begin renting in January and signed a lease with a one-year term, you cannot give notice for a date earlier than January 1st of the next year without breaking your lease. For more information about breaking your lease, see the Breaking Your Lease section. However you would be able to give notice on November 30 for January 1st and move out the day your lease agreement ends.

If the fixed lease term requires the tenant to move out at the end of the term, you will not be required to give notice upon moving out of the residence.

It is always best to contact your landlord as soon as you know that you would like to move out to give your notice.

Breaking your Lease

If you signed a fixed-term lease and would like to move out of the rental unit before the end of the term, you will have to break your lease. Breaking your lease means that you are not living up to your side of the agreement, in this case to live in the rental unit for an agreed upon period of time. This often happens with students who only live in a location for the eight months of a study period, yet have signed a lease with a one-year term. It is best to never sign a lease with a term that is longer than you intend on living in a given location; however, this is not always an option.

If you sign a lease with a one-year term and leave before the term is up, you must pay rent for that rental unit until the end of your lease term unless your landlord is able to find another tenant. If your landlord is able to find another tenant, you must be released from the lease at the time the new tenant moves in. If your landlord is unable to find another tenant, they must prove that they tried to find one, and you must continue paying rent until the end of your lease. In this case, you must also give one month’s notice.

This is the typical student example: a student rents an apartment and signs a lease with a one-year term beginning the 1st of September. The student is moving back into his parents’ home at the end of April, not intending to live in the rental unit beyond the previous eight months. No later than the 30th of March, the student must give their landlord written notice that they intend to move out on the 1st of May. The landlord must begin looking for a new renter, and be able to prove that they have looked for a new tenant through either Internet or newspaper advertisements. If the landlord finds a new tenant, the student is not required to pay rent for the remaining months of the lease term that they are not living in the rental unit. However, if the landlord is unable to find a new tenant, the student must pay rent to the landlord until the end of the lease term, the 31st of August.

If you break your lease and refuse to pay rent to your landlord, they may keep your damage deposit and file for dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch to have you pay the remainder of the rent. If you are taken to dispute resolution, you may have to pay damages and costs associated to dispute resolution in addition to the rent owing until the end of your lease term.

Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy

If you and your landlord would both agree to end your tenancy in a rental unit, you can sign a Mutual End to Tenancy Agreement. To see a copy of what this agreement should look like, click here. The agreement will state a date that you will move out of the rental unit by. Only sign this agreement if you would like to move out on the date in the agreement.

Getting Your Damage Deposit Back

When you move out of a rental unit your landlord is required to return your damage deposit with interest. The rate of interest to be used is provided by the Residential Tenancy Branch and is available here. In some years, high interest rates will mean you get more money from your damage deposit than you initially provided, while, in other years, low interest rates will mean you only get your initial deposit back.

Your landlord may wish to keep a portion of your deposit to cover any damage to the rental unit while you lived there, the cost of cleaning the rental unit if you did not leave it clean, or any unpaid utility bills. Your landlord cannot keep any of your damage deposit unless you agree to it in writing, or he or she has an order from an officer of the Residential Tenancy Branch authorizing the deduction.

Never sign an agreement that you damaged a rental unit unless you or one of your guests caused the damage. To determine damage while you lived in the rental unit you must complete a move-in and a move-out inspection. For more information, see the Move-out Inspection section below. If your landlord attempts to keep your damage deposit without your permission, you can file for a dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch to have the money returned. For more information, see the Dispute Resolution section.

Your landlord must return your damage deposit within 15 days of the end of your tenancy in the rental unit. You must provide your landlord with a forwarding address that they can send the money to. If you do not provide your landlord with a forwarding address within a year, the landlord can keep the full damage deposit.

Move-Out Condition Inspection

When you move out of a rental unit you must complete a Move-out Inspection with your landlord. This inspection is an assessment of any damage done to the rental unit while you lived there. You cannot complete an accurate Move-out Inspection if you did not complete a Move-in Inspection when you first moved into the rental unit

During the Move-out Inspection you will go through your rental unit with your landlord and determine any new damage to the rental unit. You should have the report from your Move-in Inspection with you to ensure that you are not held responsible for damage to the rental unit before you moved in. You and your landlord will produce a Move-out Inspection Report. To see a copy of what your Move-out Inspection Report should look like, click here. This report will affect how much of your damage deposit your landlord may apply to keep for repairs. Never sign a Move-out Inspection Report unless you agree with the assessment of the damage. If your landlord tries to make you pay for damage that you did not cause, you can file for dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch. For more information, see the Dispute Resolution section.

What does it mean to sublet?

A tenant sublets a rental unit by having someone else take on the responsibilities of the lease. If the tenant signs a lease but is not planning to live in the rental unit for the whole lease term, they can have someone else move in and pay rent for the months they are away. For example, if a student lives in Kamloops and rents a rental unit while they are going to school, but does not live in the rental unit during the summer, they may have another person move in and pay rent over the summer and move out again when the student comes back the following school year.

Can I sublet my rental unit?

Yes. You are able to sublet your rental unit with the consent of your landlord. If you sublet your rental unit without your landlord’s permission you can receive a one-month eviction notice.

In British Columbia, a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to allow you to sublet a rental unit if you have a lease term longer than six months. The Residential Tenancy Branch determines whether the landlord’s decision is reasonable, but practically this means that unless the landlord has a good reason not to rent to the individual they must consent to your sublet. For example, your landlord cannot refuse to rent to someone because they think they might not do a good job of cleaning, but your landlord could refuse to rent to someone who they have been evicted for illegal activity in the past.

When you sublet to someone you sign what is called a sub-lease. A sub-lease is an agreement that is added to your lease that outlines the terms under which someone is subletting your rental unit. For example, the sublease will outline how long the person can live in your rental unit, whether they will be able to use your furniture, etc. You should never agree to sub-lease your rental unit without developing a sub-lease. This document will protect you and your belongings if something goes wrong during the sublet. There is not an official sub-lease document produced by the Residential Tenancy Branch so you will have to develop one yourself. If you are having a hard time figuring out what should be included in your sublease, contact the Students’ Union and we will meet with you to help you develop a sub-lease. To see an example of a sub-lease click here.

When you sublet to someone you sign what is called a sub-lease. A sub-lease is an agreement that is added to your lease that outlines the terms under which someone is subletting your rental unit. For example, the sublease will outline how long the person can live in your rental unit, whether they will be able to use your furniture, etc. You should never agree to sub-lease your rental unit without developing a sub-lease. This document will protect you and your belongings if something goes wrong during the sublet. There is not an official sub-lease document produced by the Residential Tenancy Branch so you will have to develop one yourself. If you are having a hard time figuring out what should be included in your sublease, contact the Students’ Union and we will meet with you to help you develop a sub-lease.

Can another person take over my lease?

Yes. Having another person take over your lease is called an assignment. An assignment is used when you no longer want to live in your rental unit but you have a lease term that prevents you from giving notice. You can have the remainder of your lease taken over by another person who would like to move in. When assigning your lease you should be very careful to make sure that the new tenant does a Move-in Inspection so that you are not held responsible for their actions. Under an assignment, you can still be held responsible if the new tenant does not honour the terms of your lease. For example, if the new tenant does not pay the rent or leaves without giving notice you could be expected to pay the remaining months of the lease term. It is a good idea to get a letter or document from your landlord that releases you from the lease officially.

The rules for assigning a lease are the same as for sub-letting a rental unit. Your landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to allow you to assign your lease if you have a lease term longer than six months. The main difference between assignment and subletting is that under the assignment of a lease the person taking over the lease does so permanently, and the original tenant does not plan to live in the rental unit again at a later date. There is not an official assignment form from the Residential Tenancy Branch so you must develop an agreement yourself. If you are having a hard time figuring out what should be included in your Assignment Agreement, contact your Students’ Union and we will meet with you to help you develop your document. To see an example of what a Lease Assignment Agreement should look like click here.