Month-to-month (periodic) tenancies
When ending a month-to-month tenancy, you need to give your landlord one full month written notice. If you are like most tenants and pay rent on the 1st of the month, then your move-out date will be the day before – that is, the last day of the month. On that final day, your tenancy legally ends at 1:00pm.
If you plan to move out on September 30th, your landlord would have to receive your written notice no later than August 31st. If you give notice on September 1st, then all of October would become your one-month notice, and the last day of your tenancy would be October 31st. In other words, being even one day late giving notice could end up costing you another month of rent. If the landlord is a property management company, and they are closed for business on the last day allowed for giving notice, you are expected to consider this in advance and give notice earlier.
When ending your month-to-month tenancy, make sure your notice:
- is in writing,
- states the address of your rental unit,
- states the effective date of the notice (the date you will move out), and
- is signed and dated.
See TRAC’s template letter, Notice to End Month-to-Month Tenancy Agreement. Always remember to keep copies of letters you send to your landlord.
Fixed-term tenancies (leases)
If you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement, (often referred to as a “lease”) you should check to see if it includes a move-out date. Some fixed-term tenancy agreements include a term that requires the tenant to move out at the end of the fixed length of time. If this is the case, you will have to move out on or before that date, and you do not need to provide notice to your landlord.
If your fixed-term tenancy agreement does not have a move-out clause, then your tenancy will most likely automatically continue as a month-to-month agreement. If you do not want your tenancy to continue, then you will have to give your landlord one full month notice in writing before moving out.
If you would like to end your fixed-term tenancy early (often referred to as “breaking your lease”), see TRAC’s page on Breaking a Lease for more information on how to protect yourself and minimize your consequences.
“Serving” your notice
There are rules about how a tenant much serve their landlord with a notice to move out. In residential tenancy law, the term “serve” refers to the formal delivery of a document in accordance with the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). You are note allowed to give your landlord notice verbally, or by email, text messaging or social media. Instead, you will have to use one of the allowable methods of service listed in the RTA.
The allowable methods of service listed below have varying timelines for when the landlord is considered to have received the notice:
- In person by giving it to your landlord – same day
- In person by giving it to adult who lives with them – same day
- In person by giving it to the landlord’s agent – same day
- Posting the notice on the landlords door – 3 days later
- Leaving the notice in the mailbox – 3 days later
- Faxing the notice – 3 days later
- Mailing the notice using regular or registered mail – 5 days later
Always remember to factor in these rules about service timelines when giving notice to your landlord, so that you can meet your requirement to give one full month notice before moving out.
See our page on Serving Documents for more information
Once you have given proper notice to end your tenancy, you will have to clean your unit and repair any damage caused by you, your guests, or your pets. Tenants are required to maintain “reasonable health, cleanliness, and sanitary standards”, and must leave the unit in good condition.
The Residential Tenancy Branch’s Policy Guideline #1 provides guidance on how tenants and landlords should maintain residential properties. Here are some examples of areas you may be expected to clean at the end of your tenancy:
- Carpets (including steam cleaning or shampooing) if you owned a pet, smoked, or occupied the unit for one year or longer
- Window coverings
- Inside of windows and window tracks (including removing mold)
- Stove top, oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator (including defrosting)
- Behind and underneath appliances that are on wheels
- Baseboards and baseboard heaters
After you have cleaned the unit and moved out your belongings, you will need to participate in a condition inspection with your landlord.
See our page on Condition Inspection Reports for more information.
When you move out, you are required to return all keys, including copies you have made, to the landlord.
See our page on Locks and Keys for more information.
Tenants are protected in some important ways when it comes to having deposit(s) returned at the end of a tenancy.
See our page on Security / Pet Damage Deposits for more information.
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 45 – Tenant’s Notice
- Residential Tenancy Act Section Part 6 Division 1 – How to Give or Serve Documents
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 52 – Form and Content of Notice
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 53 – Incorrect Dates Automatically Changed
- Residential tenancy Act Part 2 Division 5 – End of Tenancy
- Residential Tenancy Regulation Part 3 – Condition Inspections