Resources - Tenants - Deposits and Fees
2. Deposits and Fees
A landlord can request a deposit that will be held in trust as security against damage to the rental unit. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, be sure you understand the process for returning a deposit at the end of a tenancy.
At the start of a tenancy, a landlord can ask for a security deposit (or damage deposit) – it can be no more than half of the first month’s rent.
Paying a security deposit means that a tenancy has started and the landlord cannot prevent the tenant from moving in. Even if the tenant doesn’t move into the rental unit, they’re responsible for all obligations under a tenancy – including paying rent or repairing damages.
Pet Damage Deposits
A landlord may also request a pet damage deposit at the start of a tenancy or during a tenancy if a tenant gets a pet with the landlord’s permission. The deposit must be no more than half of one month’s rent, regardless of the number of pets allowed.
Deposits are not required for guide animals or pets that were in a rental unit as of January 1, 2004.
A pet damage deposit can only be used to cover the costs of repairing damage caused by a pet, unless the tenant agrees in writing or an arbitrator orders the pet damage deposit be applied to a Monetary Order.
Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities
- Can only request one security deposit or pet damage deposit per tenancy agreement, regardless of the number of tenants or pets
- Can serve a One Month Notice to End Tenancy if a tenant fails to pay the security deposit within 30 days of entering into the tenancy agreement or a pet damage deposit within 30 days of when it’s required
- Cannot request deposits based on rules and procedures used in other areas (for example, landlords can’t ask for “first and last month’s rent” or “key money”)
- Cannot increase the amount of a deposit with a rent increase
- Cannot automatically keep all or part of the deposit at the end of the tenancy
- Must pay the security deposit within 30 days of entering into the tenancy agreement or the pet damage deposit within 30 days of when it’s required
- Cannot use a deposit as rent without the landlord’s written permission
- Should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch if they paid too much for their deposit – they may be able to deduct the overpayment from their rent
Keys : A landlord can’t charge for a key or other access device (e.g. a fob) that is the tenant’s only means for getting in to the residential unit or manufactured home park. For keys or devices that aren’t the only way to access the rental unit, a landlord can charge a fee that is refunded when the key or access device is returned. The fee must not be more than the direct cost of replacing the keys or access device. Landlords can charge a fee to replace or provide additional keys.
Application fees : A landlord must not charge a fee for accepting, reviewing or processing an application.
Moving fees : A landlord can charge a fee if a tenant requests to move between units in a multi-tenanted building. This must be stated in the tenancy agreement and the fee can’t be greater than $15 or 3% of the monthly rent. A landlord can also charge a move-in fee only if it’s required by strata bylaws.
In the tenancy agreement, a landlord can indicate whether or not pets are allowed at the rental property. If they are allowed, landlords can also:
- Restrict the size, kind and number of pets or include reasonable pet-related rules in the tenancy agreement (these can be negotiated to suit both parties)
- Require a pet damage deposit
Tenants are responsible for cleaning up after their pets and repairing any damage they cause – even if the pet is a guide animal.
Landlords should remember that pet clauses in the tenancy agreement must comply with any strata property bylaws (e.g. a condominium), if applicable.
Certified guide animals are legally allowed to live in rental properties – landlords cannot require a pet damage deposit for these animals.
In fact, landlords cannot refuse to rent a property to someone because they: