Subletting the Rental Unit and Assigning the Tenancy Agreement

When is my tenant allowed to sublet the rental unit or assign the tenancy agreement?

BC Landlord Guide- Subletting and Assignment
When is my tenant allowed to sublet or assign the tenancy agreement?

When assigning a tenancy agreement, the tenant gives up all rights and responsibilities which are then transferred to a new tenant. An assignment can be distinguished from a sublease as, under a sublease, the tenant still retains all the rights and obligations towards the landlord under the original tenancy agreement. For example, a tenant remains responsible for paying rent to the landlord regardless of whether the subtenant pays rent.

A tenant must always obtain the landlord’s written consent before subletting the rental unit or assigning the tenant’s rights and obligations under the tenancy agreement. However, where a fixed-term tenancy agreement is for 6 months or longer, unless the landlord is a recognized public housing body and the rent is related to the tenant’s income, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold their consent. Also, a landlord must not charge a tenant anything for considering, investigating or consenting to an assignment or a sublease.

It is not reasonable for a landlord to withhold consent simply to force the new prospective tenant or subtenant to instead enter into a new tenancy agreement with the landlord that would allow to landlord to charge a higher rent than the rent set under the original agreement. On the other hand, it may be reasonable for the landlord to withhold consent if credit or reference checks indicate that the new prospective tenant or subtenant is unlikely to adhere to the terms of the tenancy agreement. It may also be reasonable for a landlord to withhold consent of a proposed short-term sublease if the landlord’s strata corporation has passed a rental restriction bylaw that prohibits short-term rentals.

Where a tenant has failed to obtain the landlord’s consent before subletting the rental unit or assigning their rights and obligations under the tenancy agreement, the landlord may issue the tenant a one-month notice of eviction.

Last revised: April 10, 2016

This article explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada and is not a substitute for legal advice specific to your situation.