B.C. to allow emailing of documents in landlord-renter disputes

The province also extended an order allowing strata corporations to hold virtual meetings

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      The B.C. government is amending Residential Tenancy Branch regulations to allow the use of email to send documents between landlords and tenants.

      The change is in response to a recommendation of the Rental Housing Task Force, which was appointed by Premier John Horgan in 2018 to consult with B.C. renters and landlords to find ways to modernize the province's tenancy laws and ensure fairness for all parties in the dispute-resolution process.

      The task force's final report and recommendations were presented in December 2018. "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," the Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing said in a February 17 news release.

      Previous to this change, physical documents had to be delivered by hand, mail (regular or registered), fax, left in a mailbox, fastened to a door, or left with an adult at the pertinent address.

      The bulletin noted that the change will come into effect as of March 1, 2021.

      The release also stated that although email transmission of documents has not been permitted in most cases up until now, some dispute-process arbitrators have been accepting such service methods, when accompanied by supporting evidence, "for several years" in cases where more traditional methods were not available.

      As well, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the director of the Residential Tenancy Branch has allowed emailed documents to be accepted where personal service was not an option. This will become a permanent order on March 1.

      In the same release, the ministry said that a temporary change made under the Emergency Program Act to allow strata corporations to hold meetings virtually has been extended. The continuance applies to all strata corporations and includes both annual and special general meetings, which might normally constitute gatherings of more than 50 people.

      For French, Punjabi, and Chinese translations of this information, go here.