Serving Notices To Tenants
Once you have found a tenant and a lease is signed for your property, you’ll need to know both your and your tenants’ rights. At some point, you will have to provide documentation to your tenants During tenancy. You may even have to take legal action.
Proper documentation is important when starting any tenant/landlord relationship. Maintaining proper documentation remains important for the duration of the tenancy. There are several situations where a landlord may have to serve their tenant with notice. Knowing what type of documentation you need and the proper method of serving these notices to your tenants will be the difference in you having a good or bad relationship with your tenants. There are three common situations where a landlord needs to serve notice to his/her tenants. These are not the only situations where notice needs to be served, but they will give you a solid understanding of the rules outlined in the RTA Regulations and Policy Guidelines.
FAQs on serving notices to tenants:
When is a landlord required to give his tenants notice?
· Anytime you need to enter the rental unit, for any reason.
· Anytime there is a change in your original rental agreement, such as a rent increase.
· Anytime you wish to terminate your agreement or limiting services previously provided to the tenant.
How do you serve notices properly During tenancy?
The RTA lists valid forms of service in Section 88 of the guidelines.
· Give the tenant a copy of the notice.
· Send the notice via mail to the tenant’s current address.
· Send the notice via mail to the tenant’s forwarding address if they have moved.
· Give a copy of the notice to any adult residing at the tenant’s residence.
· Leave a copy in the mail slot or box at the tenant’s residence.
· Post a copy of the notice on the door or other obvious place at the tenant’s residence.
· Fax the tenant a ‘notice of intention’ to serve them. If you choose this method, make sure to verify the fax number. This is not the preferred method for serving notices.
What qualifies a notice as being served?
A document is not considered officially served to your tenant unless delivered in person to either the tenant or an adult living at the same address.
Timelines for considering your notice to be served, as per the RTA, are listed below according to the service method:
· Mail or registered mail – 5 days
· Posting a copy to tenant’s door – 3 days
· Fax – 3 days
· Leaving a copy in the mail slot – 3 days
When counting days until your notice is officially served, do not count the day you served it. If you need your notice to come into effect quickly, choose your method of delivery accordingly.
Emailing, texting, phoning, sliding papers under the door, and even carrier pigeons are not considered valid service methods.
Notice of Entry
You must provide your tenant with a Notice of Entry document anytime you intend to enter the rental unit, for any reason, as per Section 29 of the Act.
What is included in a Notice of Entry?
The following items must be included in a Notice of Entry:
· The notice must be in writing.
· The notice must be served using one of the service methods previously discussed.
· The landlord must have a REASONABLE purpose for entering the rental unit. This includes monthly inspections.
· The date and time of entry must be specified and must be between 8 am and 9 pm. If the tenant specifically agrees on another time, this is also permitted.
Can you enter the rental unit without serving a Notice of Entry?
According to Section 29 of the RTA, there are a few exceptions that allow a landlord to enter a rental unit without serving a Notice of Entry:
· The tenant gives the landlord permission to enter.
· There is an order from the RTB requiring the landlord to have access.
· The rental property has been abandoned and is no longer occupied by the tenant.
· An emergency where human life or property is in danger.
Timelines associated with serving a Notice of Entry:
You must serve a Notice of Entry a minimum of 24 hours before entering the rental unit. A Notice of Entry cannot be served more than 30 days before entry.
Keep in mind the timelines associated with notices being served according to the method of service. For example, if you put a Notice of Entry in your tenant’s mail slot on Tuesday, you cannot enter the premises before Saturday, as the notice is consider served on Friday, and you can enter 24 hours later.
Subletting and Assignment
The RTA considers subletting and assignment to be ambiguous. For this reason, these terms are frequently misunderstood.
What is subletting?
If a tenant temporarily rents out your unit to someone else, then returns before their rental or lease agreement are finished, this is considered subletting. Your tenant remains your tenant, and the people residing in the rental unit become your tenants’ tenants. Subletting does not include additional residents moving in with your tenant, only renting the unit while your tenant has moved out.
An example of subletting
Carson owns an apartment in downtown Vancouver and rents it to his tenant, John. John is taking a two-month-long tour of Europe over the summer, and while he is there, his friend Georgie moves into the apartment. Georgie pays rent to John, while John continues to pay rent to Carson. When John returns from his vacation, Georgie moves out, and John remains in the apartment until his lease is up.
What is an assignment?
If your tenant leaves the rental unit before the end of their rental agreement but has new tenants to take over the agreement, this is called an assignment. All parties are your tenants. One tenant leaves, and a new tenant takes over. Your rental or lease agreement does not change.
An example of an assignment
If John decides not to come back from Europe and has Georgie take over his apartment lease, he has assigned the apartment to Georgie. Georgie now becomes Carson’s tenant. Carson and Georgie must abide by the original rental agreement, including price and terms.
What are the landlord’s legal rights if he/she does not want the rental unit assigned or sublet?
Consent for subletting or assignment cannot be withheld from any tenant with six months or longer on their rental agreement. You can, however, still enact a tenant screening process to determine who moves into your rental unit.
Landlords cannot increase the rent without a valid reason in the province of British Columbia. The Residential Tenancy Act, sections 40-43, outlines that rent can only be increased as outlined in the Act.
The Residential Tenancy Branch releases allowable rent increases each year in the fall. The increases are release a year in advance and listed as a percentage. For example, a rental increase of 2.5% for 2019 was released in September of 2018. There is a legal requirement for all landlords to keep rental increases within this limit. They cannot increase rent by more than this percentage.
Allowable ways to increase rent beyond this percentage include:
· Applying to the RTB for permission to increase rent about the guideline.
· If your tenant agrees to a larger increase in writing.
FAQs regarding rent increases in B.C.:
When am I allowed to increase the rent?
Rent can only be increased once every 12 months or when a new rental agreement begins.
What is the proper notification process for rent increases? Can I just tell my tenant?
Verbal notice is not considered legal notice. The RTB has a ‘Notice of Rent Increase – Residential’ form available that must be served by an approved method (discussed previously).
How much time do I need to serve notice before increasing rent?
A tenant must receive a minimum of three months’ notice before the rent increase becomes effective. The RTB outlines this as three full calendar months, regardless of the date the notice was served. If you serve a notice on April 23rd, you cannot increase the rent until August 1st.