Renters will be able to receive their security and pet deposits back in a fair and timely manner, thanks to changes made by the Government of B.C.
Under the old process, renters had to apply for a dispute resolution hearing if their landlord did not return their uncontested deposits within 15 days of the end of the rental agreement. This formal hearing with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) meant that renters had to wait to have their money returned to them.
To solve this, the Province is creating an expedited process. Renters with successful applications will receive an order for the return of the deposit that they can then serve to their landlord or enforce through the small claims court. The RTB has a similar process in place to help landlords recover unpaid rent or utilities. These changes give renters the ability to use the same simplified process to get their deposit back.
Renters can apply for this expedited process at any Service BC location or online (effective Feb. 18, 2020).
This new process is the next step in the phased implementation of the Rental Housing Task Force’s recommendations to make B.C.’s rental housing system fairer, more affordable and more secure.
Action on housing and ensuring fairness for renters and landlords are shared priorities between government and the BC Green Party caucus and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
- This change is in response to recommendation 18 of the Rental Housing Task Force, which was to speed up the return of security deposits by allowing tenants to make a direct request to the RTB where the landlord has not made a claim.
- The new process is among the many changes that government has made to improve renting in B.C., including:
- changing the laws to provide stronger protections for renters facing eviction as a result of renovations or demolitions by increasing compensation for bad-faith evictions, strengthening requirements for eviction notifications, allowing more time to find alternative housing and giving renters the right of refusal to return to a unit following renovations;
- updating tenancy laws to close what is known as the fixed-term lease loophole, eliminating the geographic rent increase clause and better protecting people living in manufactured home parks;
- investing $6.8 million in new funding for the RTB to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes, hire new staff to reduce wait times and address backlog and create a new compliance unit to take action against serious offenders;
- cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, limiting it to inflation, to help ease pressure on renters; and
- improving the Rental Assistance Program and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters to give families and seniors on a fixed income a break from rising costs.
- Residential Tenancy Branch website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies
- Online application for dispute resolution (service portal): www.gov.bc.ca/landlordtenant/online
- Residential Housing Task Force recommendations: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/121/2018/12/RHTF-Recommendations-and-WWH-Report_Dec2018_FINAL.pdf
Image credit: By Downtowngal – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16170598