Saying goodbye to your rental accommodation?

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A quick guide to ending your tenancy and getting back your deposit

For many students, the end of the academic year means giving notice on rental housing. With final exams and assignments mounting, it’s easy to lose sight of some important deadlines and checkboxes for doing this right. And for most of us, that means getting that security deposit back, right?

When and how to give notice

Make sure you give at least the notice required – usually one-month. Even if you’re late by one day, you may have to pay for an extra month. Most rents are due on the first of the month, so if you want to leave on June 1, your landlord needs to receive notice by April 30 at the latest. If you have a fixed-term tenancy, this could be more complicated – get in touch with VIU Off-Campus Housing if you’re unsure.

Have you been communicating with your landlord by SMS, Messenger or WhatsApp? Tenancy law doesn’t recognize texts or social media for formal correspondence. A letter is always best or emails with prior agreement. And make sure you allow time for notice to arrive. Did you know that the law allows three days for landlords to see an email? TRAC has a great page on serving documents.

Clean up

Have you been in your rental for over a year? It’s your job to steam-clean the carpets, I’m afraid! Check your agreement – and have a chat with your landlord – but be aware that the law has specific guidelines about your move-out cleaning list. If you make sure you’re on top of these jobs, your landlord should be happy.

Move-out inspection

Assuming you have a move-in Condition Inspection Report, you should be scheduling a move-out inspection. You (or a representative) must do this to get your deposit back and there is a clear procedure. Importantly, make sure you have moved your belongings out or packed them neatly. If you didn’t have a move-in inspection, your landlord may not be able to ask for any of your deposit.

Move-out day

Your final move-out deadline is 1 pm on the last day of your tenancy. Make sure you return all keys, including any copies, to your landlord.

Security deposits and reference

To get your deposit back, you first need to give your landlord a forwarding address. This can be your next rental or a family member or friend, for example. Your landlord must return your deposit inside 15 days with any interest owed to you. If your landlord wants to keep any of your deposit (for damages, for example), they must either have your written agreement or apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a decision. If you want to use your deposit for rent in your final month, you must have agreed to this in writing in advance. If you overpaid your deposit at the start of your rental, you will be able to get back the balance. Again, this should ideally be with written, advance agreement.

Ask for a reference

Finally, you will likely be looking for somewhere new to rent and you could ask in advance for a written reference. Think about what your next landlord will appreciate knowing. Did you pay your rent on time? Were you a good neighbour and did you look after the property? If you are on good terms with your current landlord, you could also ask to collect this on move-out day and make sure they include their contact details.

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