Seniors in Rental Housing

Ending Tenancies in Special Circumstances

Seniors Ending Tenancies
Seniors Ending Tenancies

Aging tenants can present their own set up benefits as well as challenges and in recognition of this there are special rights/processes that are available through the Residential Tenancy Act. Recently the Residential Tenancy Branch published its new regulations on ending tenancies in special circumstances, this change included a provision for tenant’s whom are accepted into supported housing to end a fixed term tenancy with one month notice and no penalty or additional costs.

In a standard fixed term tenancy, a tenant cannot end their tenancy prior to the end date agreed to. If a tenant does leave prior to the end of the tenancy they are responsible for any lost rental revenue and liquidated damages. In the current market, most BC communities are in, lost rent does not generally come into play but the expense of having to rent out the unit at a time when you had not planned it can be significant – which is where liquidated damages come in.

For some tenants, this extra cost can present a barrier to move into housing that may be better suited for their needs, specifically it has the potential to prohibit aging tenants from entering supported housing. These tenants are often in situations where additional costs may not be manageable on fixed incomes and this can put tenants that require extra care in risk of injury or untenable reduction of quality of life.

While we expect most landlords to accommodate tenants in these situation and allow them to leave with no extra costs there are situations where this may not occur. To ensure these tenants do not end up living in a state of crisis the Residential tenancy branch has updated the regulations and act to provide tenants with the ability to end a fixed term tenancy before the end date without additional costs.

To qualify your tenant must be the only remaining tenant on the agreement and must be accepting into supportive housing. The director of the supported housing community must complete an RTB form vouching that this tenant has been accepted. The tenant must also give at least one months’ notice. This notice cannot be disputed by the landlord.

As mentioned, we generally do not feel this additional protection is needed as most landlords understand that this situation requires a higher level of consideration in regard to your tenants safety and simply allow the vacating tenant leave without additional costs that may normally apply to a tenancy ending before the end date of the fixed term.

Aging Tenants – Resources for Landlords and Tenants

As mentioned aging tenants can sometimes present unique challenges and ending tenancy is generally not the solution. Sometimes a tenant needs some additional assistance with household tasks, such as regular cleaning or grocery shopping while sometimes senior, on fixed incomes need financial aid to ensure a stable living environment. While some of these services can be provided through the private sector there are many times where this is not an option for financial or other reasons.

In the age of the Internet many of these resources can be found online, making it difficult for a generation that is less familiar and comfortable navigating the websites that contain these vital services. Some local more focused groups may only exist on social media such as Facebook, or they may use twitter to relay current news and information about social programs. Due to this gap in technological adeptness it often falls to landlords to provide basic information about organizations and initiatives that may benefit their tenants.

This presents its own challenge as information is not always easy to find. Knowing the best way to search for resources is not always intuitive as landlords may not always be able to fully understand the needs of their aging tenants. To address this, LandlordBC has created a new resource page  on the LandlordBC website. While we acknowledge that this does not remove the barrier that some aging tenants experience with using the internet it does provide landlords a simple one stop page to find relevant resources.

LandlordBC

LandlordBC is a non-profit association that serves as the voice of the rental housing industry within British Columbia and, leads the professional operation of the industry by providing services and support to help owners and managers of rental housing mitigate risk to enhance their financial success. Governments and other stakeholders look to LandlordBC for guidance and leadership on all matters related to the rental housing industry.