Section 2 Tenancy Agreements
Sub-Section 2.11 Tenancy Agreement - General

s. 7(1) - 18, s. 91, The Residential Tenancies Act


Anniversary date: the date on which a landlord is entitled to increase the rent on a rental unit. In some residential complexes, all units have the same anniversary or rent increase date. In other complexes, the anniversary dates may be spaced throughout the year. A landlord can usually increase rent only once every 12 months.

Annual rent increase guideline: the percentage that a landlord can increase rent without applying to the Branch for approval. The Government sets the amount each year. The guideline takes effect on January 1. A landlord can apply for a larger increase if they can show that the guideline will not cover their increases in expenses. The guideline applies to most rental units, including apartments, single rooms, houses, duplexes, mobile homes and mobile home lots. The Residential Tenancies Act does not apply to rent increases on land leases.

Fixed-term tenancy agreement: a tenancy agreement for a specific period of time, usually one year.

Implied tenancy agreement: even though a tenant and landlord didn’t formally commit themselves to a tenancy agreement, in writing or orally, their actions toward each other indicate a tenancy was formed. For example: A tenant paying the rent and a landlord accepting it.

Mediation: a confidential process the Branch uses to encourage and help tenants and landlords discuss problems, think of possible solutions and reach their own agreements. Mediation can take place in meetings, conference calls or separate telephone conversations.

Minor: a person who has not reached the age of 18.

Necessary: for the purpose of this policy, a necessary is shelter, as in a rental unit.

Oral tenancy agreement: a tenancy based on an oral offer and acceptance to rent a rental unit. The terms and conditions of this type of tenancy are not put in writing. It is most commonly a month-to-month tenancy.

Written tenancy agreement: A specific form that is signed by both the tenant and landlord. It identifies the landlord, tenant and rental unit, and states the terms and conditions of the tenancy. It may also state the landlord’s reasonable "house" rules. A written tenancy agreement may run for a fixed-term, usually one year, or on a month-to-month basis.


A tenancy agreement may be written, oral or implied. It sets out the conditions or basic rules of the tenancy.  For example: the amount of monthly rent, the services provided by the landlord.


In the Residential Tenancies Regulation, there is a prescribed form called "Standard Residential Tenancy Agreement." The Branch provides a sample copy of this form. Some stationery stores also sell the forms.

A landlord can create their own tenancy agreement as long as they don’t include anything that is contrary to the legislation or the standard form.


Minors and mentally challenged individuals can enter into tenancy agreements. Since a rental unit is considered a necessary, a minor or mentally challenged person can be held responsible for a breach of a tenancy agreement. A landlord may file a claim for compensation or an Application for an Order of Possession with the Branch. The Branch has the authority to order a minor or mentally challenged person to move or to pay compensation.


A tenancy agreement may say how many people can live in the rental unit. If the agreement is specific and the tenant wants to have more people live in the unit, a landlord and tenant may mutually agree to end the original tenancy agreement and create a new agreement to cover the additional occupants. If the agreement is not specific, the Branch may try to help the landlord and tenant resolve the matter. If the landlord and tenant agree that they spoke about who would occupy the unit, it could be a term of the agreement, even though it’s not in writing.


If a tenant marries, has a child or adopts a child during the term of the agreement, it’s considered a natural increase in the tenant’s family. If this happens, a landlord can’t give the tenant notice to move or ask them to pay more rent, unless the increase breaches other terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. Other situations may be considered a natural increase and would be determined by the Branch based on the circumstances of each case.   The addition of anyone who is not part of the existing tenancy agreement, including a tenant’s adult children, extended family or foster children would not be considered a natural increase.


Sometimes the rent increase or anniversary date is not the same as the start date of a tenancy agreement. This type of agreement is often called a "step-lease". A step-lease has two columns in the "amount of rent payable" section. The first column shows the rent the tenant will pay for the first part of the agreement; the second column shows the effective date of the rent increase. For example: The tenancy agreement is from October 1 to September 30. The anniversary date on the rental unit is April 1. The tenant pays $500.00 per month from October 1 to March 31. On April 1, the rent increases to $505.00 per month.

When a landlord needs to prepare a tenancy agreement, the landlord may not always know the actual amount to put in the second column. This can happen when:

  • the landlord plans to apply to the Branch for an increase above the guideline, but hasn’t yet made a final decision how large an increase to apply for; or
  • the government hasn’t announced the annual rent increase guideline.

In these cases, the landlord must complete the second column of the tenancy agreement by:

  • inserting the sentence, "The landlord plans to increase the rent by the annual rent increase guideline."; or
  • inserting an amount that is the same as or slightly higher than the amount they plan to apply for. The landlord can later choose to reduce the amount of the increase, but they cannot increase it.

For example: The tenant pays $500.00 per month. The landlord does some initial calculations and is considering applying for an above guideline increase of 6%. If the landlord is confident that the 6% increase will be the amount they will be applying for, they can insert $30.00 into the second column of the agreement. If the landlord is not certain that 6% will be their final amount, they might want to show an increase of 8% to allow some flexibility. In this case, the landlord would insert $40.00 into the second column.

Once the landlord knows the actual dollar amount of the rent increase, they must still give the tenant three months’ written notice. The tenant still has the right to object to any rent increase.


To increase rent above the annual rent increase guideline, a landlord must apply to the Branch for approval.  Sometimes a tenant might have to sign their fixed-term tenancy agreement before the Branch makes a decision on the landlord’s application.  Even though a tenant must sign the agreement,  they still   have    the    right    to    end    their    tenancy    with   notice   of  two rental payment periods.  A tenant may give notice at any time from the date they sign the agreement to 14 days after they receive the Branch's or the Residential Tenancies Commission's decision on the landlord’s application.



This policy is included as information for landlords and tenants. If landlords and tenants aren’t able to solve a problem with a tenancy agreement, they can ask the Branch for help.

Steps ▼   

1.   The officer encourages the tenant and landlord to share information and       to discuss the problem to try to come to an agreement.

2.   If the inquiry is about a written tenancy agreement, the officer will ask to       see it before answering specific questions about the terms and       conditions.

3.   When a landlord or tenant asks the Branch for help with a tenancy       agreement problem, the appropriate officer follows the procedures for:



Forms & Form Letters

Standard Residential Tenancy Agreement
.................................................................Form 1/Residential Tenancies Regulation

.............................................................Form 1.1/Residential Tenancies Regulation

Standard Residential Tenancy Agreement (Mobile Home and Sites)
.................................................................Form 2/Residential Tenancies Regulation




For more information on mediation, see Section 1.
For information on failure to deliver a copy of a tenancy agreement, see this section.
For details on tenancy agreement renewals, see this section also.
For more information on increasing rent for additional occupants, see Rent Increase For New Tenant in Section 13.



Policy Developed

September, 1992*



Last Revision

May, 2015



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