Tenancy change supports family violence victims, people in long-term care

A change to British Columbia’s residential tenancy rules has come into effect

Ministry of Natural Gas Development and

Responsible for Housing

VICTORIA – A change to British Columbia’s residential tenancy rules has come into effect, providing additional support for victims of family violence and individuals who require long-term care.

The change to the Residential Tenancy Act allows for the early end to a fixed-term tenancy, commonly known as a lease, by a tenant who is fleeing family violence or who has been accepted into a long-term care facility. This will make it easier for tenants who fear for their safety to terminate their leases.

Previously, tenants in these situations could only end a lease early if their landlord agreed; otherwise they faced a financial penalty. Now that this change is in effect, tenants with personal safety or health-care needs can end their lease by giving their landlord one month’s written notice, accompanied by written third-party verification confirming the tenant’s eligibility to end their tenancy under the Residential Tenancy Act.

Eligible third-party verifiers are professionals who have expertise in assessing safety or the need for long-term care. Examples include transition house workers, outreach workers, police officers, physicians, victim court support caseworkers, registered social workers, long-term care facility managers or health authority case managers.

The third parties will assess and confirm if a tenant is eligible to end the tenancy early, based their professional knowledge and judgment.

B.C. and Ontario are the only jurisdictions in Canada that do not require a victim of family violence to involve police or the courts in order to end their lease. This change is part of B.C.’s commitment to a Violence-Free BC and supports the Provincial Domestic Violence Plan.

This change is widely supported by landlord and tenant associations, legal advocates, anti-violence and victim-serving organizations, and health authorities.

Another Residential Tenancy Act change now in effect allows landlords to repay a tenant’s security deposit by electronic transfer of funds.

Previously, deposits had to be returned by ordinary mail, by registered mail or in person. This change supports the provincial government’s goal of reducing red tape and supporting changing technology.

“In circumstances involving personal safety or health-care needs, we recognize that tenants may need to end a lease early. We are providing this support to make sure people fleeing family violence or needing long-term care can break a lease without being subjected to additional financial penalties,” commented Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing.

For more information on residential tenancies in B.C., visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies