ENFORCING AN EVICTION
If a landlord has followed the correct procedure for issuing a notice to end tenancy (see our page on Evictions), and the tenant either accepts the notice or loses during a dispute resolution hearing, the landlord may request an Order of Possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch. Landlords may also request an Order of Possession when a tenant gives proper notice to move out, or at the end of a fixed-term tenancy that requires the tenant to move out.
An Order of Possession is a legal order that requires the tenant to vacate the property by a certain date, often as soon as 48 hours later. However, the landlord is not allowed to physically remove belongings or change the locks if the tenant does not move out. In order to legally force the tenant to move out, the landlord must follow the process described in the section below.
Step 1: Apply for a Writ of Possession
If a landlord wants to enforce an Order of Possession in order to make the tenant leave, they must first apply to the Supreme Court of BC for a Writ of Possession. The landlord must wait two days to apply for a Writ of Possession after serving the tenant with the Order of Possession to allow the tenant time to file for a Review Consideration through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). See our page I Disagree with My Decision for information on how to apply for a Review Consideration.
Before applying for a Writ of Possession, landlords are required to ask the RTB if the tenant has filed for a Review Consideration. However, if you have applied, it is a good idea to immediately notify your landlord yourself. See our template letter, Notice of Review Consideration of Order of Possession.
Once the landlord applies to the Supreme Court of BC, the Writ of Possession can be granted quite quickly.
Step 2: Hire a court appointed bailiff to remove tenant’s belongings
Once the landlord has a Writ of Possession, they may hire a court appointed bailiff to physically remove the tenant’s belongings and change the locks. The bailiff does not need to give the tenant notice that they will be coming, and they are allowed to remove the tenant’s belongings regardless of whether or not the tenant is home. If the tenant is home, they can physically remove the tenant, if necessary.
Only a court appointed Bailiff may remove the tenant’s belongings, not the landlord or the police. If a bailiff arrives to take your belongings, ask for identification and see if they are on the list of authorized court bailiffs. Your landlord may request that the police be present while the court appointed bailiff removes your belongings, but only to keep the peace. The police may not be involved in the actual eviction. For more information, see the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Fact Sheet on Police Assistance.
Bailiff services are expensive, and you may owe your landlord a significant amount of money. The bailiff will usually put any valuable belongings into storage and sell them to recover the fees your landlord owes for their service. However, bailiffs are not allowed to sell:
- necessary clothing,
- household furnishings and appliances worth up to $4,000,
- one motor vehicle worth up to $5,000,
- tools and other property worth up to $10,000 if they are used to earn income, and
- medical and dental aids.
If you want to claim these exempt items, you need to contact the bailiff company within two days.
The bailiff will not put items that cannot be sold or are not worth much into storage. These items are often left on the curb for the tenant to move. For more information, see the Ministry of Justice’s fact sheet on Court-Ordered Seizure of Personal Property by Court Bailiffs
If the bailiff is not able to cover all of their fees by selling your belongings, your landlord can request that they serve you with a Small Claims notice to pay the bailiff’s fee. You may also be required to pay your landlord for any other expenses relating to the eviction, such as storage, as well as rent for any days you stayed past the end of your tenancy. These expenses can end up costing thousands of dollars.
Landlords may be fined up to $5,000 per day by the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) for illegal evictions as an administrative penalty. This money, however, does not get paid to the tenant. If you have been evicted illegally, you can apply for dispute resolution to request and Order of Possession and compensation for the losses you incurred. The maximum amount of compensation a tenant can ask for through the RTB is $25,000. This could include the cost of belongings that were thrown away, as well as aggravated damages for the psychological distress you endured.
- Residential Tenancy Act Part 4 Division 2 – Orders of Possession
- Residential Tenancy Act Part 5 Division 3 – Enforcement of Director’s Order
- Residential Tenancy Act Part 6 Division 2.1 – Administrative Penalties
- Court Order Enforcement Act Section 71 – Type of Personal Property Exempt from Seizure
- Court Order Enforcement Exemption Regulation – Amount of Personal Property Exempt from Seizure