Changes to allow emailed documents between landlords and tenants

THE Province is amending regulations to allow email as a method of service between landlords and tenants, making it easier for people to participate in the dispute resolution process.

The change will take effect March 1, 2021, fulfilling a recommendation by the Rental Housing Task Force. The task force heard from renters and rental housing providers that there is a desire to use modern forms of communication, such as email, as an acceptable form of notification.

With this change, landlords and tenants may serve documents via email if one provides their email address to the other for this purpose. Previously, they were required to exchange physical documents by personal service, by regular or registered mail, leaving a copy with an adult person, leaving a copy in a mailbox, posting to a door or by fax.

While electronic service methods, such as email, have not been permitted, arbitrators have accepted them in situations where other methods were not possible. As a result, they have been accepting service by email with supporting evidence without issue for several years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal service was not available to landlords and tenants, the director of the Residential Tenancy Branch issued an order allowing them to serve documents by email. With this regulatory change, email service will be available to landlords and tenants permanently.

Government is also extending an order allowing strata corporations in B.C. to hold meetings electronically, including their annual and special general meetings, during the current provincial state of emergency.

This temporary change under the Emergency Program Act applies to all strata corporations, regardless of whether they have a bylaw allowing electronic meetings.

Strata councils already have the flexibility to hold monthly strata council meetings electronically. The order helps strata corporations hold annual or special general meetings in accordance with the provincial health officer’s order against gatherings of more than 50 people.