Whether your landlord is a jerk from the onset of your tenancy or becomes a jerk part way through, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from future disputes.

While the majority of landlords are good people, there are still a handful of rotten apples out there. These bad landlords either don’t know or don’t care about the rules with regards to renting in BC. They often don’t do repairs that are needed and don’t follow the rules. They may harass you and make up rules that cause you stress. Here are some tips to dealing with an uninformed or uncaring landlord.

Know the terms. Review your rental agreement before you sign or have the main terms in writing before putting down a damage deposit. These terms should include the rental address, rent amount, lease term length, parking, laundry, who pays the utilities, pets, smoking, and whatever else is important to you. Once money is exchanged, a contract is established.

Record everything. Keep a record of all communication between you and your landlord, and as much as possible keep your communication in writing. Texts or email is fine. This will come in handy if, in the future, you need to resolve a dispute with your landlord.

Pay your rent on time. Don’t give your landlord an excuse to end your tenancy.  If you repeatedly pay your rent late, at least three times within an unreasonably short period, your landlord can give you a one month eviction notice.

You need to give respect to get respect. Always be respectful in your dealings with your landlord, even if your landlord is not respectful in return. If you end up in dispute resolution, showing texts and emails whereby you were kind and polite will go a long way.

Know your rights as a renter in BC.  British Columbia’s residential tenancy law applies to most types of rental housing in the province. As a renter, it’s important to educate yourself about these laws. The only rights you have are the ones you stand up for. 

If you find yourself in a situation with a landlord that is breaking the rules, provide the landlord with either the BC Residential Tenancy Guide, or a printout from the Residential Tenancy Branch’s website. If you have questions, call the RTB at 1-800-665-8779.