Book with title Landlord-Tenant Law and a gavel.

NEW: Dealing with tenant occupied properties

by Paul Cowhig, Professional Standards Advisor

As of Monday, March 30, tenants in BC are not required to allow a REALTOR® or landlord to show their space, nor can they be evicted. There is no current obligation to cooperate with a 24-hour notice. They get to say “NO”, and many of them are saying no.  

This is a provincial order of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General under the Emergency Program Act and is a perfect example of the high stakes on the table during this pandemic. We need to be very careful to respect the rights of tenants and not show any irritation or frustration in the event a tenant flatly refuses to cooperate with you. 

Some would argue we have a poor track record dealing with tenants and this could be a public relations nightmare if you react badly to these new rules. I know that many tenants feel Realtors treat them like second-class citizens. Whether that’s true or not, please be professional in your dealings with tenants. That means being respectful, calm, courteous, polite and considerate.


  • I suggest that if you have tenant-occupied listings, you put an information package together and send it out to both the owner and the tenant. 
  • Explain the new rules and rights of tenants during this pandemic. Be the one who communicates clearly what has changed and where they each stand. 
  • Tell them what your plan is for any showings in this environment and how you may use photos and/or virtual tours where possible to limit in-person showings. 
  • Ask if you can do a virtual tour so you won’t have to ask for a showing. Let them know that you won’t even ask for a showing until the buyer demonstrates that they are very serious. 
  • Re-assure the tenant that you will adhere to all government and health authority protocols around handwashing, sanitizing, physical distancing and other related guidance on safety during COVID-19.

Perhaps you can agree with the seller that you won’t ask a tenant for a showing unless the buyer makes an offer subject to viewing. If you have this conversation with your seller and the tenant, prior to asking for an actual showing, there will be a greater chance for cooperation from the tenant. 

Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA)

In your discussions with sellers, re-assure them as well, that there are e-tools that can be used such as DocuSign for electronic signing, the use of video by BC lawyers and notaries to remotely witness affidavits, as well as measures introduced by the Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) to help adapt property transactions to COVID-19. 

We will provide a special update on this topic, next week. You can click  for the full LTSA directive.

In the meantime, don’t wait to talk and explain all of this until someone actually wants to see the place. That will be too late, and you’ll likely get a negative reaction. Most people want to get along. Make it easy for them by talking about it before there’s an appointment, to let them know they have rights, that you’re going to respect those rights, and that they don’t have to panic. 

Their inclination to cooperate will go way up, and you’ll have done a huge service to your client. 

To read the Ministerial Order and the Tenancy Act, click on this link.

Source: FVREB Professional Standards & Communications