April 2016 was the busiest month in recorded history for residential real estate in Greater Victoria. This means that more homes sold in April than in any other recorded month. Given that many homes have secondary suites, tenants can be affected by the rise in real estate sales. This article outlines some of your rights if your landlord sells the property you are living in.
Showing the Property
- The landlord must provide you with written notice 24 hours before they show your unit. This notice must indicate the date and time that they plan to enter your unit. It must be between 8am and 9pm, unless you agree to a time outside of that.
- If the landlord provides you with proper notice, you cannot refuse them entry into your suite.
- You have a right to quiet enjoyment. If your landlord is showing your unit more than you think is reasonable, you have the right to apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch. Always address your concerns to your landlord first.
- It is recommended that you make a written schedule of showings with the landlord and landlord’s agent to avoid problems.
- You are allowed to be present when your suite is shown. Your landlord is also allowed to show your suite when you are not present. If you aren’t going to be in your unit when it is being shown, make sure that you secure your valuables and contain your pets.
- If you are going to be there, you cannot interfere or prevent the sale of the property (for example, by making negative remarks about the landlord).
- A lockbox cannot be used without your permission. (A ‘lockbox’ is a padlock-shaped box that hangs around a doorknob. The box holds keys and allows communal access for real estate agents who have the code to open the box.)
Ending the Tenancy
It is important to understand that your landlord cannot evict you just because they want to sell the property. Do not sign a mutual agreement to end tenancy unless you are sure that you want to move. You are not obligated to sign any agreement that ends your tenancy.
However, there are some situations in which your tenancy can end in relation to the house being sold:
- If the new owners plan to occupy, renovate, convert or demolish the unit you are living in and you have a month-to-month tenancy (a tenancy that doesn’t have a set end date), the old landlord can give you a 2-month notice to end tenancy. If this happens, the landlord must give you compensation equal to one month’s rent. If you haven’t paid the last month’s rent yet, you have the right to withhold that payment instead of receiving compensation. You can end the tenancy before the two- month deadline by giving 10 days’ notice. The landlord must refund your rent prorated for the time that you already paid for but won’t be living there.
- If the new owners plan to occupy, renovate, convert or demolish the unit you are living in and you have a fixed-term tenancy (a tenancy that ends at a certain date), they cannot force you to move out before that date. You also cannot decide to end the tenancy early without breaking your lease and potentially being subject to penalties. However, you and the landlord can both agree to end the tenancy early (“mutual agreement to end tenancy”). Again, you are not required to end your tenancy early if you have a fixed term tenancy, and the landlord cannot legally pressure you to do so.
- If the tenancy agreement says that you need to move out at the end of your fixed term, the landlord does not have to give you any additional notice. Your tenancy ends on the day stated on your tenancy agreement.
- If your tenancy agreement says that “the tenancy may continue on a month-to-month basis or another fixed length of time” after the fixed term deadline, the landlord must give you two full months’ notice that they plan to end your tenancy. They must also give you compensation equal to one month’s rent.
In all of these cases, all of the conditions of the sale must be removed (meaning the conditions have been met and the sale is ready to move forward) before you are served with an eviction notice. Your eviction cannot be a condition of the sale. If served with an eviction notice, be sure to ask your landlord if the conditions have been removed. If your old landlord is evicting you because the buyer asked them to, make sure that the buyer has submitted this request in writing.
Once the new owners take possession of the property, they are the landlord. Assuming your tenancy continues after the new landlord takes possession, you have the same rights and obligations in relation to the new landlord as you had with the old landlord, and the new landlord has the same rights and obligations in relation to you.
If you are evicted and the landlord does not use (occupy, renovate, convert or demolish) the rental unit within a reasonable period of time, you can apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch asking for payment equivalent to two months’ rent. The new landowner would then have to prove to an arbitrator at hearing that they intended to occupy, renovate, convert or demolish your rental unit when they gave you your eviction notice and that they had all the legal permits to do so.
For more information, contact Emily (Tenant Legal Advocate) at TAPS at 250-361-3521. The following resources may also be helpful:
Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, Tenants.bc.ca,
Residential Tenancy Branch