In March of 2019, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver introduced Bill M206. The bill, an amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act, was aimed at strengthening the rights of individuals fleeing household violence and received support of the government and received Royal Assent on May 30, 2019 to come into effect May 30, 2020.
The changes will allow those tenants impacted by “household violence” to use the existing provisions to obtain a confirmation statement from the existing list of authorized third-party verifiers. Additionally, there is now a definition of “household violence” and “occupant” to ensure clarity in these difficult and sometimes confusing situations.
“Household violence” means violence that has adversely affected a tenant or occupant’s quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical well-being or is likely to adversely affect those if the tenant or occupant remains in a rental unit, including physical abuse of the tenant or occupant, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life, but not including the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or others from harm, sexual abuse of the tenant or occupant, attempts to physically or sexually abuse the tenant or occupant, psychological or emotional abuse of the tenant or occupant, including intimidation, harassment, coercion or threats, including threats respecting other persons, pets or property, unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, the financial or personal autonomy of the tenant or occupant, stalking or following the tenant or occupant, and intentional damage to property, and in the case of an individual under the age of 19, direct or indirect exposure to violence against the tenant or occupant;
Adding this definition also provides increased protections to occupants of rental units. This means that a tenant or an occupant in the rental unit may be the one impacted by household violence and if a third-party verifier is satisfied that the circumstances warrant ending the tenancy, the tenant can end the tenancy early even though they are not the ones at risk.
Tenants may end a fixed-term tenancy before the date the term is finished in situations where the tenant has been assessed as requiring long-term care, has been accepted into a long-term care facility or needs to leave the rental unit to protect themselves or their children from family or household violence.
In a tenancy with more than one tenant, the tenancy can be ended by just one of the tenants giving notice. This would mean that tenants that may have not agreed to end the tenancy would also need to vacate. Landlords do have the option of entering into a new agreement with tenants wishing to remain in the rental unit but are not obligated to do so.
To end a tenancy in these circumstances, a tenant must:
- Have their eligibility confirmed by an authorized third-party verifier using an Ending Fixed-Term Tenancy Confirmation Statement (PDF) form
- Give the landlord one month written notice to end tenancy
- Give the landlord the completed and signed Ending Fixed-Term Tenancy Confirmation Statement (PDF) along with the written notice