Tenant’s Refusal to Leave

What can I do when my tenant refuses to leave at the end of the tenancy?

BC Landlord Guide- Overholding Tenants
What can I do when my tenant refuses to leave at the end of the tenancy?

Where a tenancy has lawfully ended and the tenant still refuses to leave, the landlord may apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order of possession in order to have the overholding tenant vacate the rental unit. In other circumstances, the landlord may have already obtained an order of possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch as a result of a dispute resolution hearing.

An order of possession does not, on its own, allow the landlord to take possession of the rental unit where an overholding tenant refuses to vacate. However, the order of possession will allow the landlord to apply to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for enforcement of the order.

A tenant’s refusal to vacate will allow the landlord to claim for compensation for any period of time the tenant occupies the rental unit after the tenancy has ended as well as for any unpaid rent lead up to the end of the tenancy. Where a landlord has since re-rented the rental unit to a new tenant who cannot occupy the rental unit due to the overholding tenant’s refusal to vacate, if the new tenant brings proceedings against the landlord to enforce their right to possess or occupy the rental unit, the landlord may apply to add the overholding tenant as a party to the proceedings.

Last revised: April 17, 2016

  • Once a tenancy has ended, you must be extremely cautious in accepting any further payment of rent from your tenant. Otherwise, you may unintentionally reinstate the tenancy. If your tenant refuses to leave and insists on continuing to pay rent, you should inform your tenant in writing that payment is only being accepted for “use and occupancy” pending an order by the Residential Tenancy Branch. Such arrangements are more suitable in cases where you have issued a Notice to End Tenancy that the tenant is disputing. If you have already obtained an order of possession, it is more prudent to refuse any payment of rent and proceed to the Supreme Court for enforcement of the order and an award for damages within the prescribed deadlines.
  • If you have obtained an order of possession that you could enforce but instead decide to give your tenant a second chance, the tenancy will be reinstated and you will not be able to rely on a previous order of possession to evict your tenant.

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.