Fixed Term Tenancies and Notices to End Tenancy

A recent B.C. Court of Appeal ruling highlighted an issue that, while rare, can cause significant problems and disputes for landlords and tenants. The issue at the heart of this ruling was a confusion of the rules surrounding a fixed term tenancy and the two-month notice, specifically rules about compensation and leaving early. In this ruling Judge Daphne Smith wrote that the tenants understanding that they could leave their tenancy early because a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy had been served was incorrect and that the tenancy that was in place was a fixed term tenancy.

The ruling left the tenant in a position where they owed their landlord money as opposed to being owed a month compensation for being served a Two Month Notice to End Tenancy. The tenants assumed that their tenancy was a month to month tenancy as it did not have a provision which required them to vacate at the end of the fixed term and that because of this whey had the ability to end tenancy early with 10 days’ notice, a right tenants can exercise when served either a Two or Four Month Notice to end tenancy.

This confusion mostly came from the tenants not reading their agreement or the information on the notice to end tenancy that their landlords had served but it brings up a topic that landlord and tenants alike are often confused about; how does a notice to end tenancy affect a fixed term tenancy?

While customarily true the answer is not as simple as, it ends the tenancy, there are many factors that both landlords and tenants need to consider when a notice to end tenancy is served and a notice served during a fixed term tenancy can have implications that neither party may have counted on. The various notice to end tenancy forms have a significant amount of information printed on the backs of the forms and this information is useful but does not have all considerations.

Ending a tenancy can be a difficult task and there are many moving parts to consider, having a clear understanding of the process is important in ensuring you are protecting yourself from potential loss or disputes. Communicating your expectations with your tenant is an effective method of assuring they understand their rights and responsibilities, no matter the issue at hand.

LandlordBC members can find a full explanation of how various notices to end tenancy affect and are affected by a fixed term tenancy in Hunters Hints in the Spring Issue of our quarterly publication “The Key”.