How to end your tenancy properly and get your security deposit back
If you are a tenant in British Columbia, you have certain rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), which is BC's law governing rental housing. One of these rights is to get your security deposit back when you move out, as long as you follow some steps and meet some conditions.
A security deposit is a payment that your landlord likely required from you at the start of your tenancy to cover any potential damages or unpaid rent. The maximum amount your landlord is allowed to charge you for a security deposit is half of one month's rent, and if you have a pet and your landlord required a pet damage deposit, then they can request a further half-month's rent (see section 18 of the RTA).
When you end your tenancy, you have two main options to get your security deposit back:
Option 1: You and your landlord agree on how much of the deposit will be returned or deducted. You fill out a Condition Inspection Report together, sign it and exchange copies. Your landlord must return your deposit (plus interest) within 15 days of you moving out or receiving your forwarding address - a field that is included in the Condition Inspection Report - whichever is later.
Option 2: You and your landlord disagree on how much of the deposit will be returned or deducted. You still fill out a Condition Inspection Report together, sign it and exchange copies. But if you can't agree on the amount of the security deposit (which you don't need to agree on if you don't want to, by the way) either of you can apply for dispute resolution at the RTB. Keep in mind that if you have moved out and provided your forwarding address to your landlord, your landlord only has fifteen (15) days to return your deposit OR file a claim to keep your deposit. If your landlord fails to do that, you are entitled to
receive double the security deposit pursuant to section 38(6) of the RTA.
There are situations where parties do not have a Condition Inspection Report, which happens more frequently than you might think. If you are in a situation where you don't have a Condition Inspection Report and are worried about your security deposit being returned, get in touch with us and we can provide you with advice tailored to your situation.
To avoid disputes over your security deposit, here are some tips:
Keep a copy of your receipt for your security deposit. If you paid in cash, your landlord should have provided you with a receipt; if you paid by cheque, it's always a good idea to take a picture of your cheque for your records (that way, you'll avoid having to pay your bank to obtain a copy later on); if you paid by e-transfer, make sure that you have received the confirmation email from your bank.
Take photos or videos of the condition of your rental unit when you move in and when you move out. We recommend this even if you fill out a Condition Inspection Report with your landlord.
Know and follow the rules in your tenancy agreement about giving notice to end your tenancy. The RTB provides this useful link on ending your tenancy.
Clean up and repair any damages that you caused before moving out.
Give your landlord your forwarding address when you move out.
If you have any questions about security deposits or would like to find out more about our services, feel free to get in touch with us!