Tip #1: Do not rent out a property on an “as-is” basis that is otherwise in a state of disrepair.
Many landlords believe that they can rent out a property that is in a state of disrepair on an “as-is” basis in exchange for lower-than-market rent. This is a fundamental mistake as the Residential Tenancy Act requires the landlord at all times to ensure that the rental property complies with health, safety and housing standards required by law and is suitable for occupation by the tenant. This obligation persists regardless of whether the tenant knew, at the time of entering into the tenancy agreement, that the suitability or inhabitability of the rental unit was doubtful or that the rental unit was in breach of health, safety or housing standards or bylaws.
In short, it is wiser to spend some money on fixing up a dump before renting it out rather than spending money on legal fees to defend a subsequent claim by your tenant for rent reduction and monetary compensation.
Tip #2: Do not rely (solely) on the Residential Tenancy Branch’s standard form tenancy agreement.
The standard-form tenancy agreement (#RTB-1) appearing on the RTB’s website contains very minimal protection for landlords and reflects only the obligations set out by the Residential Tenancy Act. It remains silent on important issues such as smoking, pets, mandatory tenant-insurance, permitted uses of the rental property and liquidated damages in case of early termination of a fixed-term tenancy by the tenant.
A much more comprehensive residential tenancy agreement is available at no cost to members of LandlordBC. However, if you do wish to use the RTB’s standard form tenancy agreement, make sure that you attach an addendum that includes additional clauses to fill in the gaps left by the RTB’s standard-form tenancy agreement.