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Opinion: ‘Unlawful entry’: Nosy Victoria landlords can’t just stroll into your home whenever they want

Many landlords don’t know the rules on entering a renter’s unit
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If you ever want to take a stroll through B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch decisions, one thing will be obvious – too many landlords and tenants don’t understand the rules on rentals.

Tenants I can understand. They’re just trying to live their lives and this isn’t their profession.

But for landlords, this is their business and so they should understand the rules governing that business.

I got a lot of feedback from landlords angry about my recent column about how they are booting out tenants through dubious means in order to raise the rent far beyond the provincial rent cap.

One landlord in Victoria said he owns five buildings and life is really rough because insurance is expensive and property taxes are expensive and I got my tiny violin out and played a tune for this person.

My point still stands. The rules are there on getting tenants to move on and making up a story about how you’re moving in your family just so you can raise the rents is not legal.

Some landlords, apparently, don’t actually know this is illegal.

“Seeing landlords say in comment sections that they need to kick current tenants out to increase rent to cover costs and having other landlords inform them that is illegal and they would have to pay a year’s rent as punishment if caught is surprisingly satisfying,” tweeted Sean McQuillan.

But it’s not just this rule being violated.

I’ve heard from a lot of renters about how landlords think they can enter their units whenever they feel like it – with no notice at all.

“I feel violated,” one renter told me. “It’s unlawful entry. This is my home and landlords have to give notice to enter. I told my landlord and they had no idea.”

No idea.

Well, it’s not like the information is hard to find. The Province of B.C. has an entire website dedicated to residential tenancy rules and regulations.

On the subject of entry, a landlord may enter:

  • Any common areas that are shared with others like hallways, courtyards and laundry facilities – no notice is required.
  • The rental unit once per month to inspect the condition of the property – proper notice to tenants is required.
  • The rental unit to complete repairs or maintenance – proper notice to tenants is required.
  • To show the property to prospective buyers or tenants – proper notice to tenants is required.
  • The tenant doesn’t need to be present for the landlord to enter as long as proper notice was provided.

You probably saw the words “proper notice” mentioned over and over. That means notice of the date and time in writing, at least 24 hours before entering.

So you can’t just pop in whenever you want just because you own the place.

That’s the law – maybe learn it and follow it and treat your tenants with respect.

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press at the Victoria hub of newspapers. You can follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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