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2.2 Paying Rent

There should be a section in your tenancy agreement about when you are expected to pay rent.  Your full rent must be paid on or before the date it is due (usually the 1st of the month), and you are required to pay rent on that day even if your bank is closed.  Be sure to plan ahead.  If you are even one day late paying rent, your landlord may issue you an eviction notice for non-payment of rent. Evictions are discussed in greater detail in Ending a Tenancy.

Tenants and landlords usually arrange for rent to be paid by cash, cheque, or direct deposit.  If you pay by cash, your landlord has a legal obligation to give you dated receipts. If you have not been provided with receipts in the past, you can ask for them by sending your landlord a letter.  See TRAC’s template letter, Request for Rent Receipt.  When paying rent in the future, you may want to consider bringing a witness with you, as well as your own rent receipts.

If you pay rent by direct deposit, it is your responsibility to make sure that the deposit is successful each month, even when it is made by the government.  If you have any concerns about your rent being deposited, try to investigate before it is due.  If you are even one day late paying, your landlord may try to evict you.

In most cases, no, you are not allowed to stop paying rent.  Even when your landlord breaks the law, you will most likely have to resolve the problem through communication or dispute resolution.  There are, however, five situations where you may be allowed to withhold rent:

  1. you overpaid your security deposit or pet damage deposit
  2. you paid for emergency repairs after carefully following the proper emergency repair procedures
  3. you overpaid on rent because of an illegal rent increase
  4. you received a Two Month Eviction Notice for Landlord Use of Property, which entitles you to one month’s rent as compensation, and you are applying that compensation towards the last month’s rent
  5. you have an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch allowing you to withhold rent.

If you decide to withhold rent for an allowable reason, clearly communicate to your landlord that you have the right to do this. If your landlord disagrees and gives you an eviction notice, you should be prepared to apply for dispute resolution to challenge the notice.

On the following page you will find an activity to help you understand when you are legally able to withhold rent. Withholding rent illegally can have serious consequences such as being evicted, so it is a very important area of the law to understand.

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