Paying Rent

The Basics

When Rent Is Due

Your full rent must be paid on or before the date it is due – usually the 1st of the month. If you are late by one day, or short by a few dollars, your landlord can give you a 10 Day Eviction Notice for Non-Payment of Rent in accordance with section 46 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). Once you have received this type of notice, you only have five days to pay the missing rent in order to cancel the eviction.

You cannot rely on the five-day grace period for late rent each month. If you repeatedly pay your rent late – at least three times within an unreasonably short period – your landlord can give you a One Month Eviction Notice for Cause. See section 47 of the RTA and Policy Guideline 38 for more information.

 


 

How Rent Is Paid

Tenants and landlords usually arrange for rent to be paid by cash, cheque, e-transfer, or direct deposit. According to section 26(2) of the Residential Tenancy Act, Landlords are legally required to provide dated receipts for rent paid in cash. If you suspect that your landlord will not provide you with a receipt, consider bringing a witness and your own rent receipt for them to sign. You can also use TRAC’s template letter, Rent Receipt, to ask for receipts for previous rent payments.

 


 

Legally Withholding Rent

When disputes arise with your landlord, it may be tempting to retaliate by withholding rent. Unfortunately, this is illegal in most cases. If your landlord is breaking the law, you will most likely have to apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).

There are only five sections in the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) that allow you to legally withhold rent without your landlord’s consent:

  1. section 19 of the RTA – you overpaid your security deposit or pet damage deposit;
  2. section 33 of the RTA – you paid for emergency repairs after carefully following the proper steps;
  3. section 43 of the RTA – you overpaid rent because of an illegal rent increase;
  4. section 51 of the RTA – you received a Two Month or Four Month Eviction Notice for Landlord’s Use of Property, which entitles you to one month rent as compensation, and you are applying that compensation towards the last month of your tenancy; and
  5. section 65 of the RTA – you have an order from the RTB.

 

See TRAC’s relevant template letters

 


 

Problems Paying Rent

If you know that you will be unable to pay your full rent on time, communicate with your landlord as soon as possible. Your landlord may allow you to pay your rent late – especially if you have always paid rent on time in the past. Make sure to get your landlord’s permission in writing if they do agree to give you an extension. You can also try requesting a short-term loan from a friend, family member, or one of BC’s Rent Banks (Vancouver, Surrey, Kamloops). If that is not possible, you may have to prioritize your rent over other expenses.

Crisis supplement: If you receive income assistance and face an unexpected emergency, you might qualify for a crisis supplement through the provincial government.

 


 

Paying for Utilities

Your landlord can require that the utility bill for your rental unit be put directly in your name, or they can require you to pay for the bill that is in their name. If the utility bill is in your landlord’s name, you can ask to see a copy of the bill when you are required to pay it. If you are required to have utilities in your name, you will be responsible for contacting the utility company and setting up an account.

When you are searching for rental housing, it is important to find out how much you will have to pay for utilities. If you have bad credit, or have never had an account before, you may be required to pay a deposit to the utility company, on top of an installation/activation fee. Also, keep in mind that buildings with electrical heating will have much higher hydro bills. As a result, you could be paying hundreds of dollars per month in the winter in order to heat your home.

Unconscionable term: According to Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 1:

a term in a tenancy agreement which requires a tenant to put the electricity, gas or other utility billing in his or her name for premises that the tenant does not occupy, is likely to be found unconscionable.

 


 

Previous Legal Decisions

 

  • Fee for late rent allowed if term of agreement
  • Eviction for repeated late payment canceled due to estoppel
  • Landlord may change method of payment if no significant hardship to tenant
  • Landlord cannot add utilities to the rent if not in tenancy agreement
  • Utilities for multi-unit house in tenant’s name is unconscionable
  • Landlord denied claim for year-old utilities bill due to estoppel