As part of an effort to “make the residential tenancy system work better” for landlords and renters, the BC government announced it is changing the process when it comes to how renters receive their deposits back from landlords.
“Renters should not have to go through a time-consuming process to have their deposits returned to them,” said Housing Minister Selina Robinson.
The government said that under the old process, renters had to apply for a dispute-resolution hearing if their landlord did not return their uncontested deposits within 15 days of the end of the rental agreement. This formal hearing with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) meant that renters had to wait to have their money returned to them.
To solve this, the government said it is creating an “expedited” process.
Essentially, the process means renters with successful applications will receive an order for the return of the deposit that they can then serve to their landlord or enforce through the small claims court. The RTB has a similar process in place to help landlords recover unpaid rent or utilities. These changes give renters the ability to use the same simplified process to get their deposit back.
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“The Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC) supports the decision to make the RTB’s direct request process available to tenants seeking the recovery of their security and pet damage deposits,” said Andrew Sakamoto, Executive Director, TRAC. “We regularly hear from tenants whose landlords refuse to return deposits without justification, knowing that the time and hassle of the standard dispute-resolution process will lead many to simply give up.”
Sakamoto said he “hopes this change will both enable tenants to better stand up for their rights and discourage unscrupulous landlords from illegally retaining deposits.”
As of February 18, renters can apply for this expedited process in person at the RTB office in Burnaby, at any Service BC location, or online.
The government said the new process is the latest step in the phased implementation of the Rental Housing Task Force’s recommendations “to make BC’s rental housing system fairer, more affordable and more secure.”