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Issues with shared accommodation

It is very important to choose who you live with carefully and to check that all parties understand their rights and responsibilities. Everyday disagreements, differences in opinion, and the clash of different ideas, beliefs, interests, and values are the basis for conflict among roommates. These conflicts are difficult to resolve legally since the Residential Tenancies Act does not cover the rights and responsibilities between roommates. The most common reasons for conflict among roommates include cleanliness, boundary issues, noise, alcohol and/or drug use, visitors and guests. Roommates' status and responsibilities will depend on the type of tenancy which applies to them.

 

Tenancy types that may apply to shared accommodation
 
Co-tenancy
  • All of the tenants living in the rental unit signed one tenancy agreement with the landlord when they moved in. All co-tenants are bound by the terms of the lease and the terms of the Residential Tenancy Act.
  • All co-tenants have exactly the same rights and responsibilities.
  • If one tenant is not paying the rent or is causing other problems, you could end up having to pay his/her share, or any other costs.
  • Your landlord may be entitled to keep your deposit once the tenancy is over if there is any rent owing or any damage has been done to the property by you or your roommate.
  • If one joint tenant ends the tenancy, everyone will have to leave unless those that want to stay can negotiate a new agreement with the landlord.
  • If you have disagreements, you are responsible for sorting them out between yourselves.
  • Even if one of you moves out, he or she is still bound by the rules set out in the agreement, for example, the obligation to pay rent. To deal with this issue the tenant who is leaving can ask to be taken off the tenancy agreement by his or her roommates and the landlord. This new agreement should be in writing and signed by everyone to avoid later difficulties.
  • If one tenant moves out without making a new agreement, the landlord will ask the other tenants to pay the rent, including the share of the person who has left. The landlord is able to do this because each tenant is liable for all the rent. It would be up to the remaining tenants to recover the rent from the tenant who has left.
Tenancy in common
  • Each person in your household signed a separate agreement with the landlord
  • Each person may have different rights depending on what they signed when moving in.
  • If you and your housemates have separate agreements with the same landlord, each of you is only responsible for the rent for your part of the property.
  • If the landlord decides to evict any of the other tenants, it won't affect your tenancy at all.
Occupancy without signed agreement
  • Where a tenant allows a person (occupant) who is not a tenant to move into the premises and share the rent.
  • The occupant's rights and obligations are very limited.
  • Before you move in you should obtain the landlord's permission.
  • If the landlord decides to evict the person you're living with, you will almost always have to leave too.
  • The tenant who let you stay can ask you to leave whenever he/she wishes.
Setting house rules

Consider discussing the following issues with your future housemate(s) and put it in writing.

  • Which part of the house or apartment is assigned to you and others
  • Are there any rooms you're not allowed to enter without permission?
  • Is there a common area cleaning rotation?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • Can guests stay overnight regularly?
  • What's the policy on quiet hours, parties etc?
  • Who pays for what?
  • How much rent you will pay, when it is due and who will collect it and give to the landlord?
  • How you will divide up household bills?
  • Is there a fund for communal items such as toilet paper, washing liquid, etc?