Evictions - How do they start?

Based on our conversations with public library workers, we know that tenancy is a hot legal topic around the province. With this in mind, we decided to do a blog series on a particularly tricky aspect of tenancy law: evictions.  

Today’s post will deal with the beginning stages of an eviction and some discussion of ‘renovictions’.  In the next one, we’ll talk more about the dispute resolution process, and in part 3 we’ll discuss how to appeal a decision made at the RTB through a process called Judicial Review. 

What is an eviction?  

As defined by the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC), “An eviction occurs when a landlord legally forces a tenant to move out of a rental unit. They must give the tenant an approved notice with an acceptable reason for eviction according to the Residential Tenancy Act.”

What types of notices are there?  

There are multiple types of eviction notices that tenants may receive from landlords. Each notice applies to a particular situation in which a landlord can legally evict a tenant.  

Note that that the information below applies to rental housing situations covered by the Residential Tenancy Act and doesn’t apply to every type of housing available in BC. To find out more about different types of housing in BC, check out Is My Tenancy Covered Under B.C.’s Tenancy Laws? 

10 Day Eviction Notice for Non-Payment of Rent  

A landlord can evict a tenant for not paying the rent or utilities when they are due. This notice can be given even if the tenant is only a few dollars short or a day late. After receiving this notice, the tenant has five days to settle the unpaid amounts to cancel the eviction or to dispute the notice with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).  

Note that the process is slightly different for owing utilities rather than rent. For unpaid utilities, the landlord must first give the tenant a notice in writing stating the amount the tenant owes and ask for payment due in 30 days. If after that the tenant does not pay, the landlord can then issue a 10 Day Eviction Notice. Utilities can only be included on this notice if the tenancy agreement requires the tenant to pay utilities to the landlord.  

Helpful Resources:

One Month Eviction Notice for Cause 

There are a variety of reasons a landlord can serve a One Month Notice on a tenant. Some common reasons include: 

  • Unreasonably disturbing your landlord or other occupants 

  • Seriously damaging the rental unit and/or building 

  • Repeatedly late paying rent (at least 3 times within an unreasonably short period, not necessarily consecutively) 

  • Causing danger to the landlord or other occupants 

  • Having too many occupants in the rental unit (this can still be a reason for eviction, even if the tenancy agreement doesn’t limit the number of permanent occupants in the rental unit) 

For a full list of reasons and other helpful information about these Notices, check out TRAC’s page and the BC Tenancies page on One Month Notices.

You can also see a full list of reasons in section 47 of the Residential Tenancy Act, available online.

If the tenant feels the Notice is unfair, they have 10 days to dispute it. If the tenant does not dispute it, they have until the last day of the next month to move out. For example, if the tenant receives this Notice on Nov 5, they have until Dec 31 to move out. If the landlord lists the incorrect move out date on the Notice, the Notice is still valid but self-corrects to the legal move-out date. In this circumstance, it may be a good idea for the tenant to write to the landlord to explain they are not occupying the unit past the eviction date. Tenants can make use of TRAC’s helpful template letters to notify their landlords in writing – in this case, the Illegal Eviction Notice template would be helpful.  

If the landlord feels the tenant is causing extremely serious problems, they can apply to the RTB for permission to evict the tenant before the One Month Notice takes effect. In this circumstance, the tenant must receive notice of the hearing from the landlord so they have a chance to present evidence to the RTB arbitrator.  

Two Month Eviction Notice for Landlord’s Use 

The tenant may receive a Two Month Notice if the landlord or a close family member of the landlord (the landlord’s spouse, or parents or children of the landlord or landlord’s spouse) want to occupy the rental unit. This Notice is also used when the rental unit is sold and the purchaser or a close family member of the purchaser want to occupy the rental unit or when the tenant no longer qualifies for a subsidized rental unit. In the latter case, the tenancy agreement must clearly say that the tenancy will end if the tenant no longer qualifies for the subsidy.  

The tenant should receive the Notice at least two months before the effective date of the notice. The landlord must also act in good faith; this means the landlord has honest intentions to move into the unit or sell the property and the new owner intends to occupy the unit.  

A tenant is entitled to one month’s rent as compensation when served with this Notice. In some cases, the tenant and landlord may agree that the tenant not pay rent for the last month in lieu of this compensation. One exception to this is if the tenant is being evicted as they no longer qualify for a subsidized unit. In this case, they are not entitled to compensation.  

If the tenant wants to move early, they can give the landlord 10 days written notice and do so. TRAC has a template letter, 10 Day Notice to Move Out Early, that may be helpful for tenants in this circumstance. When giving short notice to move out, the tenant is only required to pay for the days they actually lived in the rental unit.  

A tenant has 15 days to dispute a Two Month Notice.

Helpful Resources:

Four Month Notice for Demolition or Construction 

A landlord can give a tenant a Four Month Notice if they plan to: 

  • Demolish the rental unit 

  • Convert the unit to strata lots or cooperative housing 

  • Convert the unit for use by a caretaker, manager, or superintendent 

  • Convert the unity for a non-residential use  

The landlord must obtain the proper permits required for demolition or conversion before issuing the tenant the Notice. The landlord must also give the Notice to the tenant at least four months before the effective date of the Notice. Similar to the Two Month Notice, the tenant is also entitled to one month’s rent worth of compensation and the landlord must act in good faith with honest intentions to demolish or convert the rental unit.  

Tenants have 30 days to dispute a Four Month Notice.

Helpful Resources: 

Can a tenant dispute an eviction notice?  

Yes, but there are strict deadlines for disputing. The deadlines vary from notice to notice, so it’s important for the tenant to be aware of what type of eviction notice they have received.  

Type of Notice 

Time to Dispute 

10 Day Notice 

5 days 

One Month Notice 

10 days 

Two Month Notice 

15 days 

Four Month Notice 

30 days  

We’ll talk more in our next post in the series about how tenants can go about disputing eviction notices with the Residential Tenancy Branch.  

It’s important to be aware of time limits and proper procedures when dealing with legal issues. Check out the following pages for more info:

What happens if the tenant does not leave?  

If the tenant doesn’t dispute the notice and does not leave by 1 PM on the effective date then the landlord can apply for an Order for Possession. If the tenant still doesn’t leave after being served the Order of Possession, the landlord must obtain a Writ of Possession from the Supreme Court so they can hire a bailiff to remove the tenant or their belongings. Landlords need the Writ of Possession to remove the tenants or their belongings. 

Helpful resources: 

What about renovictions?  

‘Renovictions’ is a term used in B.C. to describe an eviction that is carried out to renovate or repair a rental unit. Many renovations and repairs can be completed without eviction, but some are so extensive they cannot be carried out with the rental unit occupied.  

As of July 1, 2021, the legislation regarding the process for ending a tenancy to renovate or repair a rental unit has changed. Now, if the landlord wants to end the tenancy for extensive renovations or repairs, they must apply to the RTB for an Order of Possession rather than serving a Notice to End Tenancy. This results in a dispute resolution process where an RTB arbitrator will decide if ending the tenancy is the only way to complete the renovation/repair. At this hearing, the tenant will be given the opportunity to present evidence to support their case and the landlord will need to provide proof to convince the arbitrator the eviction is necessary.  

There are four basic requirements to evict for renovation/repair: 

  • The landlord has all the necessary permits and approvals to move forward 

  • The renovation/repair requires the unit to be vacant 

  • The renovation/repair are necessary to prolong or sustain the use of the rental units or building 

  • The only reasonable way to achieve the necessary vacancy is to end the tenancy agreement 

Vacancy could be required if the renovation/repair makes it unsafe for tenants to live in the rental unit (ie extensive asbestos removal) or results in the prolonged loss of an essential service or facility (is the utilities will be cut off for several weeks).  

If the arbitrator decides the tenancy needs to end for the renovation/repair to be completed, the tenant will have four months to move out. In this circumstance, the tenant is entitled to receive one month’s rent in compensation.  

When a landlord applies to end a tenancy for extensive renovations/repairs in a building with 5 or more units, the tenant also has a right of first refusal. This means they can return to their rental unit once the renovations/repairs have been completed. To do this, the tenant must provide the landlord with written notice in the form of Tenant Notice: Exercising Right of First Refusal.

The landlord will then let the tenant know when the renovated unit will be available at least 45 days before the completion of the renovation/repairs and provide the tenant with a new tenancy agreement for that date. It’s important to be aware that the landlord can set the rent of the renovated unit for any amount, not necessarily the same amount as prior to the renovation. If the tenant doesn’t enter into the new tenancy agreement, they have no further rights when it comes to that rental unit.  

There are also strict penalties for the landlord if they do not offer the tenant the right of first refusal after the tenant provides notice. In these circumstances, the landlord could owe the tenant 12 months of the previous rent as compensation.

Helpful resources: 

BC Residential Tenancies - "Renovictions" 

TRAC - Two and Four Month Eviction Notices for Landlord’s Use

 

Look out for our next blog post in this series, in which we’ll be discussing the dispute process at the Residential Tenancy Branch!