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Posted May 29, 2024

Furnished Rentals

Furnished Rentals

MAY 27, 2024

The complexities of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) and its application to various housing typologies, including furnished units, serve as a critical point of consideration for both landlords and tenants in British Columbia’s housing market. The RTA’s broad and somewhat vague definitions allow for a flexible interpretation that encompasses a wide range of housing types. This adaptability is beneficial, yet it also introduces a layer of complexity, especially when considering the legislative framework’s impact on furnished accommodations. Landlords, as part of the LandlordBC community, are well aware of the challenges posed by navigating through the many statutes that govern residential tenancies.

As members of LandlordBC will know, the legislative framework for residential tenancies can be complex with many statutes to consider. The primary piece of legislation that applies to residential tenancies is the RTA but other statues, such as the Human Rights Code and the Personal Information Protection Act, also have a significant impact. But what about furnished units specifically?

The RTA does not identify furnished units directly nor does it have any sections that singularly address the unique challenges of furnished accommodation. Instead, the RTA relies on its vagueness to apply to almost any issue that can arise in any rental housing typology. Essentially, any provision in the RTA will equally apply to furnished or unfurnished units.

In any tenancy, wear and tear of the rental unit and appliances is a concern. In furnished rentals, landlords must also consider wear and tear on furniture. It should be noted that the RTA does not allow for a separate deposit for furniture, leaving landlords relying solely on the half- month Security Deposit and, if pets are allowed, the half-month Pet Damage Deposit.

Any furnishings in a rental unit, whether it be short-term or long-term, should be chosen with longevity and ease of cleaning in mind. This does not necessarily mean putting plastic over the sofa but choosing a material that will endure use and is easily cleaned will go a long way in ensuring both landlord and tenant satisfaction. Landlords should also consider not furnishing units with furniture that has sentimental value or are difficult to replace.

Long-term tenants looking for furnished accommodation will have a different set of expectations than short-term guests. You may need to ensure aspects of your furnishings are more robust while others more limited. For example, long-term tenants of furnished units will generally expect a wider array of kitchen utensils than an Airbnb guest but may want to purchase their own bedding.

Pricing for long-term rentals differs significantly from short-term rentals while furnished rentals similarly differ from unfurnished. There are no guidelines for clear pricing of rental units which leaves homeowners needing to rely on market research. Luckily, as most rentals are advertised online, market research is as simple as looking at and comparing advertisements of similar rental units in your area. The goal is to find a balance between a price that’s attractive to potential tenants, that reflects the value of your property with its furnishings, and your financial needs and goals.

Placing tenants in a furnished unit is essentially the same as placing them in an unfurnished one. Landlords should employ a robust screening process and utilize tools such as reference and credit checks. The difference falls primarily in the language used to market the rental unit. Tenants seeking a furnished home, while still looking for a what is considered long-term accommodation are often not looking to make your rental unit their home for more than a year and are more focused on finding accommodation near what has brought them to your community, which is often employment.

This means you should ensure you advertisement for a furnished unit identifies nearby institutions, such as hospitals and universities, that might bring in temporary workers. The advertisement should also provide a good understanding of how furnished your rental unit is and what the tenant may need to supply themselves. This is made especially important as it is common for furnished rental units to be rented without the tenant viewing the unit in person prior to moving in.

A way to mitigate potential confusion for tenants coming from out of town, or even country, is to utilize virtual showings and provide detailed lists of furnishings. The latter does double duty in that it provides a document to help keep track of what is in the unit. A list of furnishing along with their condition should be included in the move-in and move-out condition inspections reports.

While the RTA does not explicitly address the specifics of furnished units, its overarching principles apply, which necessitates a careful approach from landlords. The challenge of managing furnished rentals, from wear and tear on furniture to setting appropriate rental prices, requires a nuanced understanding of the market as well as the legislative landscape. For landlords, this means selecting durable and easily maintained furnishings, employing thorough tenant screening processes, and effectively marketing their properties to match the expectations of potential tenants. As with any tenancy, the success of renting out furnished units under the RTA hinges on a landlord’s ability to navigate these complexities with savvy and sensitivity towards tenant needs.

Thank you to Landlord BC for this great article!