Making sense of security deposits for renters

In residential tenancies, a landlord require a tenant to pay a security/damage deposit and or a pet damage deposit.

In residential tenancies, a landlord can require a tenant to pay a security deposit (also called a damage deposit) or a pet damage deposit, or both.

In manufactured home park tenancies, a landlord cannot require a tenant to pay a security deposit or pet damage deposit. A landlord may retain deposits paid before Dec. 31, 2003 until the end of the tenancy and can use the deposit to cover damages as agreed by the tenant or ordered by a dispute resolution officer.

Security deposit

A security deposit is held in trust by the landlord to cover any damage caused by a tenant beyond normal wear and tear during the tenancy.

A landlord can charge only one security deposit per rental unit, no matter how many people will live there.

The security deposit cannot be more than half of the first month’s rent. The landlord cannot ask for more deposit money if the rent increases.

The tenant should pay the security deposit when signing the tenancy agreement.

Once the security deposit is paid, the tenancy could be considered started regardless of whether a tenancy agreement is signed. A landlord cannot request a security deposit after the tenancy has started.

The landlord can give a One Month Notice to End Tenancy if a tenant does not pay the security deposit within 30 days.

A landlord cannot require that a tenant give up any or all of the security deposit at the end of a tenancy or for breaching the tenancy agreement.

Pet damage deposit

Landlords can choose whether they will permit pets. Where pets are permitted, the landlord can charge a one-time pet damage deposit.

The landlord can also restrict the size, kind or number of pets.

Pet-related rules should be established at the start of the tenancy and it is best if they are included in the tenancy agreement.

The pet damage deposit cannot be more than half of one month’s rent, no matter how many pets are being allowed. Generally, pet damage deposits can only be used to cover costs of repairing damage caused by a pet.

A landlord who lets an existing tenant get a pet during the tenancy can require the tenant to pay a pet damage deposit.

Before receiving the pet deposit, the landlord must get together with the tenant to inspect the rental unit and complete a Condition Inspection Report. The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the report within seven days.

Pet damage deposits cannot be charged for guide animals or pets that were at the rental unit as of Jan. 1, 2004.

When a tenant pays too much deposit

When a tenant has paid a security or pet damage deposit that is equal to more than the amount permitted by law, the tenant can deduct the excess amount from a rent payment.


Petra Barnfield is housing advocate with Kuu-us Crisis Line Society.

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