How to create a rental agreement in BC
November 24, 2008 6:36 AM   Subscribe

How do you set-up a lease/rental agreement from the tenant's side in BC, Canada?

I moved into a house with three friends a couple months ago. Two of us have our own room, the other two (a couple) share a room. The landlord did not make us sign a lease or any sort of rental agreement. We have decided that we are not comfortable with this informal verbal arrangement (the only thing we have really agreed on, concretely, is how much rent to pay) and we have managed to get the landlord to agree to creating and signing a rental agreement.

We are completely inexperienced in this field and we need help drawing up the paperwork. The landlord is likely to be useless here. We have downloaded the government form for rental agreements in BC, but is there anything else we need to address? How do we create addendums? Is there anything special we need to do to make it legally binding?

The couple would also like to have a joint lease and use it as proof of address to help claim common-law status in the future. What do they need to do?

Also, how do you suggest we talk to the landlord? He has so far shown an unwillingness to be "bothered by details" and agreed reluctantly to drawing up the rental agreement. He has also said that he did not want it to be "too long and detailed" - it does not seem like he is being purposely vague, rather he does not want to spend the time on it.

We do not have any such qualms if the paperwork is necessary, but how do we talk the landlord through the details, as such? Any advice on handling this situation would be welcome.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total)
The lease form on the RTO site is pretty bare-bones, as you've noticed. However, if all parties sign and date it, it is valid.

Our office uses a much more detailed four-page lease agreement, with a one-page addendum. All parties sign the addendum, and the lease itself states that the addendum is a material part of the tenancy agreement.

I would fill in the RTO lease completely and bring it directly to the landlord when you pay rent. Hand it to him/her and ask that they sign it on the spot. Make sure you have make copies of the signed document for yourself, even for each tenant in the unit.

One thing to keep in mind is that you want to have paperwork in place with the start date of tenancy and the rental rate. Landlords in BC in 2009 cannot raise the rent by more than 3.7% and cannot implement a rent raise effective less than 12 months from the start date. The landlord needs to give you three full month's written notice of an increase in rent.

You may point out that a written lease also protects the landlord--what if you moved in four more people who turn out to be crackheads? The landlord wants to have it in writing who the legitimate tenants are in the unit. Point out that bad tenants might claim the rental rate is less than what was verbally agreed on, and the landlord should want the rate in writing.

There aren't a whole lot of details to talk your landlord through with the government form.

Your addendum can be very simple, but make sure it's referred to in the government form.
posted by Savannah at 7:22 AM on November 24, 2008

Don't let the sparse nature of the template agreements provided by the RTO scare you. Tenants' rights in BC are extensive and well-enforced...indeed many landlords complain that laws and by-laws are skewed too much in favour of tenants. Repeating stuff that's already a law on your agreement would just be redundant, and where an agreement and the law are in conflict, the law takes precedent. Additional items on addendums are usually trivialities like where to put your trash, when you're allowed to use the laundry room, etc.
posted by randomstriker at 12:43 PM on November 24, 2008

Oh and in case you haven't already seen this: the BC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre
posted by randomstriker at 12:45 PM on November 24, 2008

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