Reviewed by Nina Knudsen
Updated March 17, 2023
If you’re a new landlord, there are a number of things you need to consider before renting your house or unit to a new tenant. There are rules and regulations regarding residential tenancy that you need to be aware of.
And, as you are the owner of this property, you’ll want to know the home is being kept in good shape. How often can you inspect it? How do you know it’s not being turned into a marijuana grow-op?
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It’s important you be as specific as possible when it comes to the tenant’s responsibilities relating to rent:
Each province has rules regarding rent increases. For example, in BC, you must check the Residential Tenancy Branch website to see the maximum allowable rent increase for the current year.
Again, in BC, you’ll need to deliver the correct form to the tenants, also available from the RTB. Similar forms are available in other provinces. You then need to give the tenant notice of the increase. In BC, you must provide notice three whole months’ before the rent increase takes effect.
Next, it’s important you describe when the tenancy begins, any deposits that are required, and other important aspects with your new tenant.
Term: Is the tenancy for a fixed term, or will it be on a month-to-month basis? The rules in your province might decide some of this for you; in BC, for example, you can’t stipulate that the tenant moves out at the end of a fixed-term lease except in specific circumstances—the lease instead becomes month-to-month at the end of that term.
Security deposit: Is one required and if so, how much? In BC, the security deposit cannot be more than half of one month’s rent. In Alberta, it cannot be more than the full amount of the first month’s rent. Be sure you know the rule in your province.
Pet deposit: If you are allowing pets, you may want a damage deposit in case of any damage caused by the pet. In BC, landlords can charge a pet deposit up to half of the amount of the current month’s rent. This is over and above the security deposit, and can only be used to pay for damage caused by the pet. In Alberta, if this fee is refundable, it becomes part of the security deposit. The total cannot exceed the full amount of the first month’s rent. Be sure to check the rules in your province.
Inspection: When will you hold the move-in or move-out inspection with the tenant? In BC, the inspection should be done on the move-in day, and a copy must be provided to the tenant within seven days. The move-out inspection should be done on the move-out day, but in any case, must be done before renting the unit to a new tenant. For more details, see the BC Residential Tenancy Act. In Alberta, landlords and tenants must complete a move-in and move-out inspection report within one week of moving in or out.
Tenancy agreement: What is included? This agreement outlines the terms of the relationship that will exist between the landlord and the tenant. In BC, the Tenancy Agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and a copy must be provided to the tenant within 21 days. In Alberta, it can be written, oral, or even implied, but it is recommended to complete a written agreement.
Parking: Is a parking space provided? If so, is there a fee or is it included in the rent? Is there parking set aside for guests?
Secure storage: Is a storage area provided for the tenant?
Laundry: What sort of laundry facility is provided, if any?
Utilities: Is the cost of utilities included in the rent, or will that be an additional expense for the tenant?
Rules: Any other specific building rules that need to be discussed?
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Listed below are things to discuss with the tenant that will apply during the term of the lease.
Access to the unit: When can the landlord enter the unit? Each province has its own rules, including what type of notice you need to provide to the tenant. In most locations, the minimum notice is 24 hours, unless the tenant agrees to give you access sooner. There are exceptions, such as in the case of an emergency.
Common areas: What are the common areas, if any?
Emergency contact: Who can the tenant call in case of any problem?
Yard work: If there is a yard, whose responsibility is it to take care of things such as cutting the grass and snow removal?
Repairs: Who is responsible for repairs?
Occupancy: What if another person is to move in with the tenant?
Disputes: What is the first step to take, should there be a dispute between the tenant and the landlord?
As the lease comes to an end, or if either party is looking to end the lease early, it’s important to consider the following:
Notice: What notice is required, and how should it be delivered? Refer to your local government website for specific rules for your province. For example, in BC, the tenants can end a month-to-month tenancy by providing legal notice. Ending a fixed-term tenancy is harder. The landlord can end a tenancy (with notice) as well, but the conditions under which this is allowed are more restrictive.
Change of use: What if you decide to sell or change the use of the rental property? In BC, if you sell the property or a member of your family or the new owner’s family wants to move into the property, you are required to give two months’ notice to end the tenancy for landlord’s use of premises. If this is a fixed term agreement, the move out date cannot be before the end of the fixed term. Also, the landlord is required to give the tenant one month’s rent as compensation. Be sure you know the rules in your province.
Inspection: When will the final inspection take place?
Return of deposit: Have the tenant provide an address to which you can send the return security deposit.
Listed below are the residential tenancy websites for each province and territory.
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About the expert: Nina Knudsen
Nina Knudsen has 12 years of property management experience under her belt. Nina is part of the team at Royal LePage Sussex, bringing her experience to the company’s Property Management division as the Managing director of the Hello Rent team.
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