SELLING A RENTAL UNIT
When a landlord sells a rental property, or puts it up for sale, the rights of any tenant living in that property do not change. In some situations the person who buys the property can evict the tenant, but they would need to follow the same legal process the previous owner would have needed to follow. If the purchaser does not have a valid reason for wanting the tenant to leave, the tenancy will continue under the same agreement. This means that the purchaser is not allowed to make any changes to the agreement, unless the tenant agrees.
If your rental property is for sale, your landlord and their realtor must respect your privacy when wanting to show your unit it to prospective buyers. They must give you at least 24 hours (but not more than 30 days) written notice, stating the date, time (between 8:00am and 9:00pm) and reasonable reason for entry. It can be a good idea to arrange a schedule with your landlord, but if you don’t have one, your landlord is required to give written notice every time they plan to show your unit. See TRAC’s template letter, Rental Property Being Sold, to request a schedule and inform the landlord of your rights.
If your landlord is not following the law or being reasonable about how they show your unit, you can consider applying for dispute resolution. If your landlord is trying to schedule multiple viewings per day or all day open houses, you may be able to argue that your possessions are being threatened and/or your quiet enjoyment is being violated. If you have sufficient evidence, an arbitrator may decide to suspend the landlord’s right to show your unit, or at least put conditions on how and when they show it.
Sometimes landlords or realtors will request that the tenant vacate the unit during the showing. If receive this request, you do not have to comply. Landlords and realtors have to balance their need to show the unit with your right to quiet enjoyment. If you think they are being unreasonable, you have the right to apply for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch an order that they comply with the law. See our page on Applying for Dispute Resolution for more information.
When a prospective tenant or purchaser is viewing your rental property, try to be as honest as possible when answering questions. Section 47 of the Residential Tenancy Act allows a landlord to issue a One Month Eviction Notice for Cause for knowingly giving false information.
If a realtor is breaking the law or behaving inappropriately, inform both the landlord and realtor in writing of your concerns. If the problem continues, you can consider filing a complaint with the Real Estate Council of BC.
If your landlord has sold the property, the purchaser might want you to move out. However, selling the property does not automatically end your tenancy, and your landlord and the purchaser are required follow the legal eviction process.
What notice and compensation am I entitled to?
You are entitled to:
- two months’ notice to move out, and
- one month rent as compensation.
When is a purchaser allowed to evict me?
The purchaser is allowed to ask the landlord in writing to issue a Two Month Eviction Notice for Landlord Use of Property if the purchaser or a “close family member” (purchaser’s spouse, or mother, father, or child of the purchaser or purchaser’s spouse) intends to occupy the rental unit. The landlord may issue this eviction notice before the property is transferred, but only if the landlord has entered into an agreement in good faith to sell the rental unit to the purchaser, and all conditions on which the sale depends have been satisfied. This means that a purchaser cannot say that they will only buy the place if the tenants are evicted.
As long as the sale is finalized and any required permits have been issued, the new landlord is allowed to issue a Two Month Eviction Notice if they plan to:
- demolish the unit or make major repairs that require the unit to be empty,
- convert the unit to strata property or a non-profit cooperative or housing society,
- convert the property to non-residential use, or
- use the unit as a caretaker’s property
The purchaser cannot legally evict you until they have all necessary permits. To find out if the required permits have been issued, phone your municipal permit department.
What if I have a fixed-term tenancy agreement that has not ended yet?
If you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement, your landlord cannot give you a two month notice to end tenancy effective before the end of your term for any of the reasons listed above. If the tenancy agreement states that you are required to move out at the end of the term, your landlord does not need to issue a notice to end tenancy, or provide compensation. However, if there is no term requiring you to move out on a certain date, your landlord must issue a two month notice to end tenancy, which cannot be effective before the end date of the fixed-term. In this case, the landlord is required to provide one month’s rent as compensation.
What if I find a new place before I am required to move out?
If you have a month-to-month tenancy agreement and have received a two month notice to end tenancy, you may move out early if you provide your landlord with 10 days’ written notice. You will have to pay rent up to and including the day you move out, but not for any days after that. If you have already paid a full month’s rent, your landlord will need to reimburse you for the portion of the month following your move out date. You are still entitled to one month’s rent as compensation, in addition to the prorated rent for the days after you move out.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy, you may not move out before the end of the fixed-term. Once the fixed-term has ended, you are allowed to move out early by providing 10 days’ written notice.
Am I allowed to withhold the last month’s rent?
If you have received a two month notice to end tenancy, you may withhold the last month’s rent as compensation.
What if I find out that the new owner is not using the property for the reason stated on the notice to end tenancy?
If the purchaser does not use the property for the reasons stated in the notice to end tenancy within a reasonable amount of time, or for at least 6 months, you may apply for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch and ask for compensation in the amount of two month’s rent. If the purchaser cannot prove that they honestly intended to use the property in the way stated on the notice to end tenancy, they will be ordered to pay you.
When you move out, the purchaser is required to return your security and pet damage deposits, regardless of whether or not they received these deposits from the original landlord. It is not your responsibility to ensure that deposits are transferred to the new owner.
When you move out, provide your forwarding address in writing for where your deposit can be sent. Make sure you have proof of how you gave your landlord your forwarding address, such as a witness or confirmation that it was delivered by registered mail. See TRAC’s template letter Request for Return of a Security / Pet Damage Deposit. You can also write your forwarding address on the condition inspection report form.
Once you have provided your forwarding address in writing and your tenancy has officially ended, your landlord has 15 days to do one of three things:
- Return your deposit
- Get your written consent to keep some or all of your deposit, or
- Apply for dispute resolution to keep some or all of your deposit
Your landlord cannot simply decide that they are going to keep your deposit. If they want it, they need to have written permission from you or the Residential Tenancy Branch.
After 15 days, if your landlord hasn’t returned your deposit, obtained your written consent, or applied for dispute resolution, the law allows you to take them to dispute resolution for double the amount of the deposit.
See our pages on Security and Pet Damage Deposits for more information.