For residential tenancies in British Columbia, there is a Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline pertaining to the expectant useful life of your rentals building elements – which includes components and fixtures. But what does this mean? The Policy describes the Useful Life as the expected lifetime or the acceptable period of use of an item under normal circumstances.
This Useful Life of Building Elements Guideline can be helpful in determining when an item may need to be replaced (rather than repaired), and may also assist when calculating a tenant’s responsibility for the cost of replacement.
The useful life of your rentals building elements
As an example, if a tenant moves into a home and the carpets are 8 years old (with a useful life of 10 years) the Tenant likely couldn’t be charged for the full cost of replacement at the end of the tenancy since there were only 2 years of useful life left when the tenant moved in. In this example, the tenant may only be responsible for 20% of the replacement cost (and only in the event the damage caused by the tenant exceeds reasonable wear and tear).
As a Landlord, there are times you have to weigh whether or not it makes sense to spend money on a costly repair, if the useful life is just about over. Why spend $200 or more on a repair, if you’re going to need to replace it in a few months? Sometimes it just isn’t practical, especially if you know you’re likely to face replacement in a relatively short period of time. You may as well use that money now, towards the cost of replacement but that’s a decision each Landlord has to make based on their own current situation.
Replaceable components useful life
Let’s just take a look at a few other items inside a rental unit, to give you an idea of some of the other expectancies useful life of your rentals building elements for fairly common items.
As noted above, carpets should normally last about 10 years. Other items in this category include things like tile floors, dishwashers, drapes, venetian blinds, and domestic hot water heaters. With a 15 year useful life, you’ll find items such as washers, dryers, fridges, stoves, faucets and light fixtures, among others.
Tubs, toilets, sinks and hardwood floors would be examples of components with a useful life of 20 years, while cabinets and counters in bathrooms and kitchens can be expected to have a life of 25 years.
All of these examples are based on reasonable use, under normal circumstances but the life span of any component can be greatly reduced in the event they are misused or damaged by a tenant. Regular inspections of the home will help you with monitoring the condition and allow you to plan for any eventual replacements which may be needed, whether at the end of the anticipated life span or earlier.
Useful life of building elements guideline
The above list is not a comprehensive list by any means, but rather is a small sample of some of the most common components. For the complete Guideline Policy, click here, select the Tools & Resources tab and click on Policy Guidelines. This will give you the complete guideline, as well as the list of almost every item you can think of.
If you have questions regarding an item which is not on the list, you can always call the Residential Tenancy Office at 1-800-665-8779 for clarification.