Know Your Rights & Responsibilities

Ending a Tenancy

How a tenant can end a tenancy
How can a tenant end a tenancy?
How can the tenant give the landlord notice of the move?
What happens if the tenant does not provide the proper notice, or doesn't move on the last day of the tenancy?
What time does the tenant have to move out?

How a landlord can end a tenancy
How can a landlord end a tenancy?
How can the landlord serve the Notice to End Tenancy?
Can a landlord end a tenancy for non-payment or repeated late payment of rent?
Can a landlord end a tenancy for unreasonable conduct by the tenant?

Tenant's right to dispute a Notice to End Tenancy
How can a tenant dispute a Notice to End Tenancy?
Does the tenant have to move out if he doesn't dispute the Notice to End Tenancy?

If the tenant won't move out
Can the landlord obtain an Order of Possession in a dispute resolution initiated by the tenant?
How can the landlord obtain an Order of Possession?

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How a tenant can end a tenancy

How can a tenant end a tenancy?

When a tenant wants to move out, he or she must provide the landlord a written, signed notice providing the complete address of the rental unit and indicating when the tenant plans to move out. The landlord must receive the notice at least one full month before the end of the tenancy. The notice cannot take effect before the end of a fixed term tenancy agreement, and must be given on or before the last day of a rental payment period to be effective on the last day of a subsequent rental payment period. However, if there is a term in the fixed term tenancy agreement which requires that the tenant vacate the premises at the end of the fixed term, then no notice by the tenant is necessary as the tenant must move out at the end of the tenancy.

For example, in a month-to-month tenancy, if rent is due on the first day of the month, the tenant must give notice to the landlord no later than September 30th to move out on October 31st. If the tenancy agreement is for a fixed term ending December 31st, and the agreement does not provide that the tenant must move out at the end of the fixed term, the tenant may give notice any time up to November 30th, to take effect on December 31st.

If the tenant wants to move before the end of a fixed term tenancy, the tenant will have to continue to pay rent until the end of the term unless the landlord agrees in writing that the tenant can end the tenancy early or can assign or sublet the unit, or if the landlord is able to mitigate the potential loss by renting out the premises. If the tenancy is for a fixed term of six months or more, the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent to assign or sublet.

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How can the tenant give the landlord notice of the move?

A tenant has to legally serve notice of intent to move out of the rental unit on the landlord, which can be completed by handing the written notice to the landlord or the landlord's agent, such as a building manager. Serving the notice in person with a witness is the best way to serve, as the notice is legally served the moment it is handed over.

If the tenant cannot find the landlord to serve the notice, the tenant may serve the notice to an adult who lives with the landlord, or to someone who acts as an agent for the landlord. The tenant can attach the notice to the front door of the landlord's home or office. The tenant's notice is presumed to have been legally served three clear days after it is attached to the landlord's door. Therefore, if a tenant is moving on July 31st, the tenant must attach the notice to the landlord's door by June 27th.

A tenant can mail the notice, which is deemed to have been legally served five days after mailing. A tenant may want to consider sending the notice by registered mail, so that they have a receipt to prove delivery. If a tenant is moving on July 31st, the tenant must mail the notice by June 25th and leave at least five clear days for the document to be deemed served.

Once the documents have been served, it is recommended a tenant record the date, time and method of service and the name of the person served and, if mailed, the address to which it was mailed.

For more information about ending a tenancy, visit our website and refer to our guides for residential tenancy landlords and tenants and manufactured home park landlords and tenants (see below). You can also obtain these publications at any Residential Tenancy Branch Office, Government Agent’s Office, or Service BC Office. You may also phone the Residential Tenancy Branch to order a copy. To find out more, return to the main menu.

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What happens if the tenant does not provide the proper notice, or doesn't move on the last day of the tenancy?

If the tenant provides less than the proper notice or doesn't move on the last day of the tenancy, the tenant may be liable to pay the landlord, for over holding, a pro-rated amount of rent and any additional costs the landlord may incur for that period. This might include moving and storage costs incurred by the next tenant if their move was delayed by the tenant who did not move on the last day of the tenancy.

What time does the tenant have to move out?

In a residential tenancy, a tenant must move by 1:00 p.m. on the last day of the tenancy unless the tenant and the landlord have agreed to a different time.

How a landlord can end a tenancy

How can a landlord end a tenancy?

A landlord must have a valid reason for ending a tenancy as outlined in the Residential Tenancy Act or the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.

To end a tenancy a landlord must complete the appropriate Notice to End Tenancy form available from any Residential Tenancy Branch Office, Government Agent’s Office, or Service BC Office or from this web site. Once the landlord completes the form, he/she should keep a photocopy in case it is required for future dispute resolution.

The Notice to End Tenancy forms list all the valid reasons for ending a tenancy and how much notice must be given to a tenant.

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How can the landlord serve the Notice to End Tenancy?

The notice may be handed directly to the tenant and is then deemed to be served. The landlord may attach the notice to the tenant's door if the tenant is away, or if the tenant is avoiding the landlord. If a landlord decides to attach it to the tenant's door, it is recommended the landlord ensure it is securely fastened. A notice attached to a door is presumed to have been legally served on the third day after it is attached.

A landlord may also give the notice to an adult who lives with the tenant. However, the landlord must ensure that the notice is not given to a visitor or a person apparently under the age of 19.

The notice may be sent to the tenant's home by mail or registered mail. The notice is presumed to have been legally served five days after it is mailed. If the landlord wants the tenancy to end by July 31st, the landlord must mail the notice by June 25th, leaving at least five days for the document to be deemed served.

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Can a landlord end a tenancy for non-payment or repeated late payment of rent?

A landlord can serve a 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy if the tenant does not pay the rent. The notice can be served the day following the date rent is due. After the notice is received, the tenant has five days to either pay the rent in full or dispute the notice.

If the rent is paid in full, the notice is cancelled and the tenancy continues. If the tenant disputes the notice, the tenant must serve the landlord with an Application for Dispute Resolution and a date for the hearing.

If neither is done, the tenant must move out on the tenth day after the notice was received.

A landlord can serve a One Month Notice to End Tenancy for Cause where the tenant is repeatedly late paying rent. Three late payments are the minimum number to be considered "repeated" late payments. It does not matter whether the late payments were consecutive or whether one or more rent payments have been made on time between the late payments.

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Can a landlord end a tenancy for unreasonable conduct by the tenant?

Yes. A landlord can end a tenancy if the tenant's conduct is unreasonable.

Unreasonable conduct can include disturbing other tenants or causing damage and refusing to repair it. It can also include having too many people living in the rental unit or manufactured home site or subletting without the permission of the landlord.

In any of these cases, the landlord must provide the tenant one full rental month's notice. In this case, if a landlord wants to end the tenancy by July 31st, the landlord will have to serve the notice by June 30th.

A landlord can make an Application for Dispute Resolution to end the tenancy in less than a month under extraordinary circumstances. The Residential Tenancy Branch will decide whether the damage the tenant has caused is so extraordinary, or the conduct of the tenant has so seriously disturbed other occupants of the residential property, or the tenant has caused such serious impairment to the lawful right or interest of the landlord, that there is justification to end the tenancy immediately.

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Tenant's right to dispute a Notice to End Tenancy

How can a tenant dispute a Notice to End Tenancy?

A tenant is entitled to dispute the landlord's reasons for wanting to end the tenancy. To do so, a tenant must file an Application for Dispute Resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

An arbitrator will hear evidence from both the tenant and the landlord, then decide whether or not the tenant must move.

In the case of a 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy for Unpaid Rent or Utilities, if the tenant pays the full rent within five days of receiving the notice, the notice is cancelled, and the tenancy continues. If the tenant wishes to dispute the notice, the tenant has five days from the date the notice is received to apply for dispute resolution.

In the case of a One Month Notice to End Tenancy for Cause, it the tenant wishes to dispute the notice, the tenant has 10 days from the date the notice is received to apply for dispute resolution.

If the last day for disputing a notice falls on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is extended to the next business day. If the tenant has missed a deadline to apply for dispute resolution, the Residential Tenancy Branch may only extend the time to apply under exceptional circumstances. For example a notice was given and the time limited to dispute the notice lapsed while a tenant was hospitalized and therefore unavailable. In this instance a tenant would be required to provide evidence of the hospitalization period.

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Does the tenant have to move out if he doesn't dispute the Notice to End Tenancy?

If the tenant doesn't dispute the notice, residential tenancy law states that the tenant has accepted it. Unless otherwise ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch, the tenant then has to move out on the specified day.

If the tenant won't move out

Can the landlord obtain an Order of Possession in a dispute resolution initiated by the tenant?

Once a tenant receives a notice to end the tenancy, the tenant should move out on the specified date unless the tenant has successfully disputed the Notice to End Tenancy.

If the tenant is not successful in disputing the Notice to End Tenancy, the landlord, at the hearing, may ask the arbitrator to give the landlord an Order of Possession without the landlord having to complete an application for dispute resolution.

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How can the landlord obtain an Order of Possession?

If contacting the Residential Tenancy Branch doesn't help, and if the tenant remains in the rental unit after the tenancy expires, the landlord can apply for a dispute resolution hearing to get an Order of Possession. This is a legal document from an arbitrator ordering the tenant to leave.

After the arbitrator grants an Order of Possession, the landlord has to serve a copy of it to the tenant.

Under the Order of Possession, the tenant has to leave. Most tenants will leave on the date noted on the Order.

If the tenant doesn't leave after receiving the copy of the Order, the landlord can enforce the Order through the B.C. Supreme Court with a form called a Writ of Possession. Landlords seeking a Writ of Possession must use the Supreme Court Residential Tenancy Act Writ of Possession Package. The landlord may have to hire a court bailiff to carry out the legal process. The landlord cannot physically remove a tenant, even when the tenancy is legally over nor can the landlord change the locks without an order from the Supreme Court, or without evidence that the tenant has abandoned the premises.

The penalty for removing a tenant without a Writ of Possession is a fine of up to five thousand dollars payable to the Supreme Court plus costs incurred by the tenant for the illegal eviction.

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