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Q: My family of 6 plan to rent a house from its new owner who speaks no English and is working through his Vancouver Realtor . Verbally the agent has agreed to a 1 year "Lease" but in writing it seems to be equivocal. Here are the clauses I have problems with:

 2. TERM. The term of this Lease will commence from June 16, 2012 to June 15, 2013 and will continue from month to month on the same terms and conditions herein. Either party may terminate this Lease upon 30 days prior written notice to the other party. This Lease may also terminate sooner according to the provisions hereof.

The 30 days notice looks, to me, to be illegal as well as against the whole idea of a lease. This later clause also seems to negate everything:

11. TERMINATION IN EVENT OF SALE. After the 1 year fixed term, It is expressly agreed that Landlord, at its option, may terminate this Lease upon 30 days prior written notice to Tenant in the event of a sale of the building containing the Premises.

Here's another strange clause asking for cash payments:

3. Rent. Landlord acknowledges the receipt from Tenant of the sum of $4000.00 to be applied to the last month's rent. $4000 monthly Rent shall be paid by cash to Landlord (The agent verbally says the landlord is in a high tax bracket and wishes to avoid tax.)

He also asks for a security deposit. Isn't this double dipping?

SECURITY DEPOSIT. Upon the execution of this Lease, Tenant shall pay to Landlord a security deposit in the amount of $2000.00 to be held as security for the payment of rent and the faithful performance by Tenant of all of its obligations in this Lease.

Lastly, there is no mention in the lease about pets. Am I safe in thinking that I could get a cat? It is a beautiful house but the landlord plans to demolish and "build his dream home here" in the future.

I don't want to be too fussy with this landlord. He is so wealthy that he might just leave the house empty for a year to avoid tax and legal hassles.
Can I just sign and move in knowing that I will rightfully stay for a year, paying cash and getting receipts?

A: First off, you are well advised to have a squiz at the legislation governing landlord - tenant relations in the Province of BC. The official rule book for tenancies in British Columbia can be found at When both landlords and tenants play by the rules, in my experience, things run a bit smoother. It strikes me that the agent for your potential landlord, and / or the landlord himself, is not aware of the rules and regulations. And this could be very troublesome. First off, Section 6 of the legislation says that a term of a tenancy agreement is not enforceable if (a) the term is inconsistent with this Act or the regulations, (b) the term is unconscionable, or (c) the term is not expressed in a manner that clearly communicates the rights and obligations under it. What the RTO does recognize is its own form – the Standard Tenancy Agreement known as RTO Form 1. By Regulation, standard terms of a tenancy are deemed to exist, consistent with the Residential Tenancy Agreement found in this Form. Clauses in agreements, wrinkles, and riders written on paper napkins that do not jive with the legislation are not enforceable. Stuff like asking for a security deposit and a last month’s rent doesn’t fly when it comes down to arguing before an RTO official. If you are intent in following through with renting these premises, when you sit down with the landlord’s agent, you may wish to point out that some of his riders and stipulations do not appear to be consistent with the legislation. You will want to have a close look at his request about any transition with the end of lease / ending or not ending / a 30 day notice bit, etc. The Standard Agreement form has blocks that need to be completed on this very point. They determine exactly what is to happen, and when, and how.


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