Resources - Tenants - Tenancy Agreements
1. Tenancy Agreements
Landlords are required to prepare a written agreement for every tenancy. Even if a landlord doesn’t prepare one, the standard terms of a tenancy agreement still apply. Also, paying a security deposit establishes a tenancy, even if there is no written tenancy agreement and if the tenant never moves in.
Both landlords and tenants must sign and date the agreement. Landlords need to provide a printed copy to their tenants within 21 days of entering into the agreement.
What Must Be Included
All tenancy agreements need to include standard terms that protect landlords and tenants and ensure that tenancy agreements are fair and balanced. These terms even apply when there is no written tenancy agreement.
Some tenancy terms are negotiated between the tenant and landlord:
- Who the agreement is between: Include the full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s). People not named in the agreement might not have any rights
- Length of the tenancy:
- Fixed-term – A tenancy set for a specific period of time (e.g. a year, a month or a week). The tenancy cannot be ended earlier than the date fixed unless both parties agree in writing or are ordered by an arbitrator. A “move out” clause can be included requiring the tenant to move out on the date the agreement ends – both parties must have their initials next to this term in order for this to be enforceable. If the agreement doesn’t say what happens at the end of the term, the tenancy continues on a month-to-month basis and the tenant doesn’t have to move out or sign a new fixed-term agreement
- Periodic – A tenancy with no specified end date – it continues until the landlord or tenant serve notice or both decide to end the tenancy. For example, a month-to-month tenancy
- Rent : Clearly specify how much the rent is and when it’s due. It should also be clear what’s included in the rent – for example, if utilities, laundry or cable are included; or whether there are other refundable or non-refundable fees payable, such as late fees. Essential services such as heat, electricity and hot water must be provided, but the agreement may say that the tenant pays for these
- Deposits : Indicate what deposits are required and when they are due. Only one security deposit and one pet damage deposit can be requested per unit – each one should be no more than half of one month’s rent. Manufactured home park landlords cannot ask for deposits
- Pets : Indicate whether there are any pet restrictions
Many landlords also include additional terms for things like pets, smoking or late-payment fees. These are generally binding if the tenant agrees to them and they do not contradict the Residential Tenancy Act or Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.