An addendum is a critical piece of your rental agreement and can mean the difference between a stressful tenant dispute and peace of mind. Here are the terms you should be including in your addendum.
Savvy landlords ALWAYS include an addendum with their Rental Agreement (RA). An addendum lists the additional terms or rules that are not covered by the BC Residential Tenancy Act. If you don’t include an addendum, you are letting the tenant decide on some very important things like whether they can smoke in the unit or not, or if they can have pets. There are other terms to include that are just as important. Setting the rules beforehand and going over them with the tenant at the onset of the tenancy will show the tenant that this is a business transaction and that you are not a pushover.
Here are the must have terms:
Payment of rent. Here you can set out the terms for how you want the rent paid and if there is a penalty for late payment or for NSF cheques.
Utilities. This section would apply if you rent the suite in your home in which case you will want to make sure that you either include a cap on the utilities or have a separate utilities agreement in place.
Additional occupants. One of the most important terms you should be including in your RA. Here you can either list the approved occupants not on the agreement (such as the tenant’s children) or simply state that no additional persons, not already listed on the RA, can reside at the premises without your consent. Also important to include an additional amount of rent you will expect if another occupant is approved.
Smoking. Even if your ad states “no smoking” – this is not good enough. You should be including it in your addendum. For example: The Tenant agrees not to smoke in the suite. Smoking is permitted outside only with the doors and windows closed. The Landlord may designate an area for smoking that is outside of, and away from any or all windows or doors where second-hand smoke might drift back into any part of the house. There may be a clean up fee for any cigarette butts or garbage found on the grounds that are determined to come from this unit.
Pets. Again, even if you ad states “no pets” – you should be including a term on your addendum. Example: A pet is permitted if written consent is given by the landlord. Please note that a pet deposit may be required and a pet policy will need to be signed. This is also where you can reference a Pet Agreement, if you are allowing pets. See our Rental Forms section which includes a Pet Agreement.
Cannabis. New and very important addendum term to include. According to the BC Government, if a tenancy agreement was entered into prior to the legalization of non-medical cannabis and had a “no-smoking” clause, it would include smoking cannabis (but not vapourizing cannabis) in the same way. With the legalization of non-medical cannabis, landlords will be able to include terms in new agreements prohibiting growing and smoking. It is the landlords responsibility to ensure these prohibitions are clear in tenancy agreements.
Insurance. This term is SO important to include as it basically says you’ve advised the tenant to get insurance. The rest is up to them. Example: The landlord points out that he/she is not liable for loss or damage to the tenants’ property and recommends that the tenant obtain suitable insurance to cover personal effects and alternative accommodation should the tenant be displaced in the event of a fire, flood or other disaster. The tenant agrees to ask for written consent from the landlord if the tenant wants to run business operations on-site. The tenant understands that he/she will need to carry appropriate business insurance and name the landlord(s) as additional insureds on the policy.
Laundry. If your rental unit has in-suite laundry and it is in close proximity to another occupant or yourself, you may want to add laundry hours so no one is awakened at 1am by an unbalanced load in the washer.
Smoke detector. This term is important to include in case there is ever a fire.Example: The Tenant agrees NOT to remove the batteries unless for replacement, or tamper with, the smoke detectors in any way.
There are quite a few additional terms worth adding but when deciding what to include in the addendum to your rental agreement, it is important to know that whatever you include cannot conflict with the Residential Tenancy Act EVEN IF your tenant signs in agreement. The rule here is that the Residential Tenancy Act trumps anything you have agreed to.
Here are some other terms to consider.
I know that vibrating beds are a thing of the past, but strangely some people still use them. And are you okay with your tenant having a water bed? What about an above ground pool? Fire pit? Trampoline? Will you allow vehicle repairs and car washing to take place on site? Cover as much as possible so that they can’t turn around and say to you – it wasn’t in the agreement!
And if your rental suite has a yard, you will want to include terms with regards to the yard maintenance for both summer and winter. Here are some examples to consider.
And last but not least, I like to cover moving out at the tail end of the addendum. It’s something that’s covered in the Residential Tenancy Act but may not be common knowledge to all renters.
Moving out. If the Tenant wants to move out, he/she must give the landlord one full calendar months’ notice (for example, a notice given on March 15 would not take effect until the last day of April). The notice must be signed by the tenant and indicate the complete address of the rental unit and the date the tenant plans to end the tenancy. The tenant must move out by 1:00pm on the last day of the tenancy. This means the unit must be cleaned and all keys given to the landlord by 1:00 pm on the last day. The damage deposit will be returned to the tenant if he/she has done the required cleaning, has replaced any burned out/dead lightbulbs and/or batteries, and has not done any damage to the property. The landlord has the right to keep all or some of the deposit to cover cleaning and/or repair costs.
Cleaning. Every landlord handles cleaning a bit differently, but I am a big fan of giving the tenant a cleaning checklist. Example addendum term: The Tenant agrees to the Cleaning Schedule as set out in the Cleaning Schedule attached to this Residential Tenancy Agreement and agrees to the deductions from their damage deposit should they fail to clean the unit thoroughly. See all our Rental Forms which includes a Cleaning Checklist.
Because there are so many different types of rental situations – basement suites, stratified condos, student housing and so on, it’s important to cover of all the things that could go wrong and address them as part of your rental agreement, or you may quickly find yourself in a dispute.