News / Vancouver

Tenancy act changes protect domestic violence victims

Changes to B.C.’s residential tenancy act will permit victims of domestic violence to break a rental lease early without financial penalty

A sign outside a rental apartment building in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

A sign outside a rental apartment building in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood

A legal advocacy organization is lauding changes to B.C.’s residential tenancy act that will permit victims of domestic violence to break a lease early, without financial penalty.

“The changes don’t go as far as we recommended, but they’re an important first step,” said Kendra Milne, director of law reform at West Coast LEAF.

A common situation is one in which a woman has signed a fixed-term lease for one year and was living there with a partner who was abusive.

“There’s a protection order in place and the abuser is no longer on the property, but her continuing to be there and him knowing her location kind of allows him to continue the abuse and puts her at risk,” Milne said.

A third party needs to verify the risk by filling out a form, and the landlord cannot contest that opinion, Milne said. A number of professionals, ranging from homeless outreach workers to transition house staff, police officers, doctors, social workers or health authority support workers, are able to act as that third party.

The change will also help tenants who need to move to long-term care before their lease ends, according to the B.C. government.

West Coast LEAF had recommended that the change also apply to tenants who are facing abuse from a roommate or from a more casual partner, but the modifications don’t go that far.

More on Metronews.ca