Breaching Important Terms


The Basics

Residential Tenancy Branch 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.

The Residential Tenancy Act does not define “material term”, since the same term could be considered material in one tenancy but not another. For example, the use of an elevator may be considered a material term for a senior who lives on the 10th floor, but not a material term for a tenant living on the first floor.



Tenant Ending a Tenancy for Breach of a Material Term

According to section 45(3) of the Residential Tenancy Act, a tenant can end their tenancy early when “a landlord has failed to comply with a material term of the tenancy agreement and has not corrected the situation within a reasonable period after the tenant gives written notice of the failure.” See TRAC’s template letter, Failure to Comply With a Material Term.

If you decide to end your tenancy for breach of material term, your landlord might claim that you ended your tenancy illegally. To protect yourself, try to gather clear and relevant evidence of the issue that forced you to move out. If your landlord applies for dispute resolution seeking monetary compensation, that evidence will help you convince an arbitrator that you had no other choice but to break your lease.



Landlord Ending a Tenancy for Breach of a Material Term

According to section 47(1)(h) of the Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord can evict a tenant for breach of a material term. See TRAC’s webpage, Evictions, for more information.



Previous Legal Decisions


  • One Month Notice canceled because landlord could not prove breach continued after first warning