BREACHING IMPORTANT TERMS
The Residential Tenancy Branch’s Policy Guideline #8 defines a material term as:
a term that the parties both agree is so important that the most trivial breach of that term gives the other party the right to end the agreement.
A material term can be a term that is clearly stated in the tenancy agreement, or it can be an implied (unwritten) term. For example, regardless of whether or not it is stated in the tenancy agreement, both the tenant and landlord have the right to physical safety. If a landlord physically assaults a tenant, this would clearly be considered a breach of a material term, even if the tenancy agreement does not have a term about physical assault.
A term that is material to one tenancy may not be material to another. For example, the use of an elevator for a senior who lives on the 10th floor might be considered a material term, whereas the use of an elevator for a tenant who lives on the 1st floor may not.
If your landlord has breached a material term, you should contact them in writing immediately. If your landlord cannot or will not correct the situation, write a second letter notifying them that you are ending your tenancy early for breach of a material term. See TRAC’s template letter, Written Notice for Failure to Comply with a Material Term. Be aware that your landlord may go after you for compensation if they don’t think a material term has been broken. If you are unsure whether you have an acceptable reason to end your tenancy early, you can apply for dispute resolution requesting permission to do so. It may take some time before you get a hearing, but it is a safer option.
Keep in mind that the law goes both ways. If you have breached a material term, your landlord can issue you a warning letter. If you cannot or will not correct the situation, they may issue you a One Month Eviction Notice for Cause.