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Do you have to tell your landlord if you’re going on vacation?

December 19th, 2012

You’ve been dreaming of that perfect vacation for months and it’s finally here: you can practically hear the surf hitting the shore and feel the sun warming your skin while the warm breeze lightly sifts through your hair. Then there’s a knock on your door, interrupting your holiday daydreams and bringing you back to the winter wonderland that is Alberta. Your landlord is at the door, wanting to know if the rumours she’s heard about you leaving tomorrow on a three week vacation are true. If you are leaving for that long, she tells you, then you were supposed to let her know in advance and the rent has to be paid now, instead of on the first of the month, because she wants to make sure that she has the money before you go out of town.

Does the landlord have the right to know when a tenant is going on vacation? Can the landlord demand that rent be paid in advance of a tenant going on vacation?

Your landlord may have the right to ask for details regarding your vacation plans. The landlord would have this right if there is a term in the lease that provides that the tenant must inform the landlord of absences from the property. The reason that some landlords include this provision within the lease is usually for insurance purposes. Sometimes a landlord’s insurance policy will state that if the rental property is vacant or uninhabited for a period of time, then the insurance will lapse and the landlord would no longer have valid insurance on the property.

You may benefit from letting your landlord know of your absence too. If your landlord knows that you will be away, then the landlord may be willing to drive by the property to check on it, or may be willing to help you with sidewalk cleaning in the winter. Also, it’s a good idea to provide the landlord will the contact information for the person you have checking on the place or house-sitting for you, if you have made those arrangements with someone else. If there is an emergency, the landlord may need to get in touch with you or with the person you designate. If you do not have anyone else checking on the place for you, then you should make sure that the landlord has a reliable way to get in touch with you (and remember, you probably did not provide your landlord with your cell phone number when you moved in).

The landlord cannot demand that rent be paid in advance of the date that the rent is due. The rent is due on a specific day and at a specific time, and the landlord cannot unilaterally change that term without the tenant’s consent. Make sure, though, that you have a reliable way to pay your rent while you are gone. If you pay by cheque, how are you going to get the cheque to the landlord if you’re out of town? Do you have a reliable friend that could deliver the cheque for you? If you pay by email money transfer, do you know that you have a reliable and secure internet connection in the place you are visiting?

You’re probably going to have to clean a foot of snow off your car in the airport parking lot when you get back; you don’t need to be greeted with an eviction notice on your door too.

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