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Assignment and Sublets

By Wm. F. Watson

Assignment is the act of transferring all or part of a tenant’s interest in either a lease or a month-to-month tenancy agreement to a third party, who then is recognized as a tenant under the original landlord. The assignee takes on the obligations of the original tenant from the time of the assignment and is not responsible for the actions or failure of the assignor prior to the assignment.

A sublet is where the tenant or lessee gives over the lease to a third party who is recognized as a sub-tenant or sub-lessee. While the sub-lease can contain pretty much the same terms and conditions of the original lease, it must by necessity be for a shorter period than the original lease because this allows the original lease holder to retain a ‘reversionary interest’ in the property.

Where a sublet is given over for the full period of the lease and does not reserve the last day or any period at the end of the lease, it is deemed at law to be an assignment, despite what the parties themselves might like to call it.

Assignments and sublets come up most frequently in fixed term tenancy agreements. Because of a change in circumstances, tenants sometimes want out of their contractual obligations and don’t want to be pursued by a landlord for a claim in debt due to lost and unpaid rent.

The Act permits the tenant to assign or sublet the rental unit to another person with the written consent of the landlord.

If the tenancy agreement is for a fixed length of 6 months or more, the landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. If a landlord unreasonably withholds consent to assign or sublet or charges a fee, the tenant may apply for arbitration under the Residential Tenancy Act.

Under an assignment a new tenant must assume all of the rights and obligations under the existing tenancy agreement, at the same rent. The landlord must not charge a fee or receive a benefit, directly or indirectly, for giving this consent.

Do-it-yourself Sublease Agreement Form by
Do-it-yourself Landlord's Consent to Sublease Form



Expert Advice - Assignment & Sublets

Q: I am moving to my newly bought apartment only after the summer. If I rent out only for the summer (for transients), and someone rents for the whole summer (2 months), is this covered by the tenancy act? many thanks
A: You need to move very carefully in the situation you describe because moving in a tenant is a lot easier than moving one out. Unless you specifically set up your rental as a lease, you've got a month-to-month tenancy situation. In these cases the landlord can only end the tenancy for non-payment of rent, cause, ending a caretakers employment where the rental is tied to his job, and landlord's use or renovation/conversion - which require tenant compensation and at least 2 month's written notice. Even if you are renting to what you call 'transients' the rules and regulations of the Residential Tenancy Act of BC come into play. When you don't know what rules and regs are in play there are all sorts of complications that result in a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, and spending money, time and resources you never dreamed possible. Landlording isn't for the feint of heart - it actually can be a bloodsport.



More on this Subject

   Related Forms

      - Residential Tenancy Agreement - RTB-1

   Other Resources

     - Assignment and Sublet - Policy Guideline 19

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