Changes To Residential Tenancy Act – COVID-19

Published: April 1, 2020


April 1, 2020

The BC Government recently announced a plan to support renters and landlords to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The plan includes changes to the Residential Tenancy Act. These will be in effect for the duration of the provincial state of emergency. 

The Residential Tenancy Branch has resources and a helpful FAQ on their COVID-19 and Tenancies page to support tenants and landlords. It details the changes and assists in understanding their effect on agreements during the provincial state of emergency. This includes information for landlords, tenants, real estate professionals as well as buyers and sellers in the current market. 

Impacts for Buyers of Tenanted Properties

The Residential Tenancy Branch has provided the following information for seller/landlords who have agreed to provide vacant possession to buyers in their contract of purchase and sale: 

“During the state of emergency, landlords cannot issue new Notices to End Tenancy and existing orders will not be enforced. This includes situations where a new buyer has required vacant possession. Tenants that had intended to move and have now decided to remain in their unit during the state of emergency should let their landlord know as soon as possible.” 

If you are dealing with a client who is relying on vacant possession of a property they have purchased, advise them to seek legal advice. Note that this applies only to housing that is subject to the Residential Tenancy Act or the Manufactured Home Tenancy Act. 

Showing Tenanted Properties

A rental unit cannot be entered to show the unit to prospective tenants or buyers without the consent of the tenant. Alternative showing options other than in-person showings are recommended whenever possible. 


During the provincial state of emergency, evictions are no longer permitted, except in exceptional circumstances. Landlords are not currently permitted to provide a notice to end a tenancy for:

  • unpaid rent or utilities
  • cause
  • landlord or purchaser use
  • end of employment as a caretaker, or end of employment if the rental unit is being rented as a condition of employment
  • demolition, renovation, and conversion of a rental unit (or closure of a manufactured home park)
  • failure to qualify for a rental unit in subsidized housing.

Landlords may still apply for an exception to end a tenancy. However, it is only applicable when the tenant or a person permitted on the residential property by the tenant has:

  • significantly interfered with or unreasonably disturbed another occupant or the landlord of the residential property;
  • seriously jeopardized the health or safety or a lawful right or interest of the landlord or another occupant;
  • put the landlord’s property at significant risk;
  • engaged in illegal activity that
    • caused or is likely to cause damage to the landlord’s property,
    • has, or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being of another occupant of the residential property,
    • jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord;
  • caused extraordinary damage to the residential property, and it would be unreasonable, or unfair to the landlord or other occupants of the residential property, to wait for the emergency order to end, or when
  • the rental unit must be vacated to comply with an order of a municipal, provincial or federal authority, or
  • the rental unit is uninhabitable, or the tenancy agreement is otherwise frustrated.

For further information about the emergency measures now in effect, please visit the Residential Tenancy Branch’s COVID-19 and Tenancies webpage.

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