Tenant’s Notice to End Tenancy

On what grounds can my tenant choose to end the tenancy?

BC Landlord Guide- Tenant’s Notice to End Tenancy
On what grounds can my tenant choose to end the tenancy?

Where a tenancy renews on a month-to-month basis, the tenant may end the tenancy by giving the landlord a one-month notice. This notice is effective not earlier than one month after the date the landlord receives the notice and its effective date must be on the day before the day of the month that rent is normally due. For example, if a tenant’s rent is due on the first day of each month and the tenant plans to vacate the rental unit by July, the tenant may seek to terminate the tenancy on June 30th and, if so, will have to provide the landlord with their written notice by May 31st.

Where a tenancy is for a fixed-term and the tenancy agreement does not provide that the tenant must move out at the end of the term, the tenant may still end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term by giving the landlord a one-month notice. For instance, if a one-year fixed term tenancy, under which rent is payable on the first of each month, ends on June 30th and the tenant does not wish to have the tenancy renewed on a month-to-month basis, the tenant can provide the landlord with their notice by May 31st. In the absence of any notice, such fixed term tenancies will renew on a month-to-month basis unless the parties have already agreed to a new fixed term.

Other than as provided above, the tenant may end a tenancy at any point during the tenancy for a breach by the landlord of a material term of the tenancy agreement. A material term is one that both parties agree is so important that even the most trivial breach gives the other party the right to put an end to the tenancy.

A tenant who relies on a breach by the landlord of a material term to end the tenancy must first inform the landlord in writing of (1) the existence of a problem, (2) the fact that the tenant believes that the problem amounts to a breach of a material term, (3) the reasonable deadline within which the landlord must fix the problem and (4) the fact that inaction by the landlord will put an end to the tenancy. Upon receiving such letter from a tenant, if the landlord fails to take corrective action, the tenant may issue a notice to end the tenancy to the landlord. The tenant may end the tenancy on any day after the landlord has received this notice.

A tenant’s notice to end tenancy must comply with the form and content requirements set out by the Residential Tenancy Act (the Act). Specifically, this notice must:

  • be signed and dated by the tenant;
  • provide the address of the rental unit;
  • state the effective date of the notice; and
  • state the grounds for ending the tenancy (unless the tenant is providing a one-month notice to end a month-to-month tenancy or a renewable fixed-term tenancy).

Furthermore, when given a notice to end a tenancy, the tenant must use a method of service recognized by the Act:

  • Leaving a copy of the notice with the landlord or the landlord’s agent, in which case service is deemed to take place at that time;
  • Leaving a copy of the notice at the landlord’s residence with an adult who apparently resides with the landlord, in which case service is deemed to take place at that time;
  • Sending a copy of the notice by ordinary mail or by registered mail to the address at which the landlord resides or carries on business, in which case service is deemed to take place on the 5th day after it is mailed;
  • Leaving a copy of the notice in a mail box or mail slot for the address at which the landlord resides or carries on business, in which case service is deemed to take place on the 3rd day after it is left;
  • Attaching a copy to a door or other conspicuous place at the address at which the landlord resides or carries on business, in which case service is deemed to take place on the 3rd day after it is attached;
  • Sending a copy by fax to a number which the landlord has provided to the tenant for service, in which case service is deemed to take place on the 3rd day after it was faxed;
  • Providing a copy of the notice by any alternative service method ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Last revised: April 17, 2016

  • It is important to note that email is not a recognized method of service and cannot be used by the tenant to send any notice.
  • Where a tenant does not follow the rules to lawfully end their tenancy and instead forces your hand by withholding rent and simply vacating the rental unit on their own terms, you may consider the rental unit abandoned by the tenant. You should inform the tenant in writing that they have not lawfully ended the tenancy and as a result of their departure, you consider the rental unit to have been abandoned. You should also inform your tenants of your intention to make an application for monetary damages resulting from their breach.
  • Given its inherently subjective nature, a party who relies on a breach of a material term to end a tenancy should expect that the other party will likely contest such an end to the tenancy and, upon application to the Residential Tenancy Branch, will have an arbitrator determine whether the term should be considered “material”. The fact that a tenancy agreement states that a term is material will not be considered conclusive evidence to that end. Rather, an arbitrator will focus on the circumstances leading up to the creation of the agreement in order to determine the true intention of the parties.

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.