There are a variety of rental situations a person might find themselves in. Unfortunately, there is a common misunderstanding that the Residential Tenancy Act (Act) applies in all situations. This is incorrect. The Act specifies a number of rental situations that the Act does not apply to.
Renting rooms in the residence of the landlord, when the landlord lives there and shares the living space, is one of these situations. A common example of this situation is a university or college student renting a single room in a house and the owner of the house lives there. Because the Act does not apply to these situations, when there is a disagreement between the parties they cannot simply rely on the Act to tell them how things should be resolved. Unfortunately, many people enter into an informal roommate arrangement without determining much beyond the amount of rent and find themselves in trouble when the relationship breaks down. It is always a good idea to create a written agreement covering the terms of the relationship, especially when the Act does not apply. A written agreement will help the parties clarify exactly what they are agreeing to, give them certainty in what is expected of them, and will help both the parties and a judge determine exactly what was included in the agreement. At a minimum, a written roommate agreement should contain all the basic information found in a lease agreement, including the following:
The length of the agreement, if there is a specific end-date in mind;
Amount of rent, and when and how it is to be paid.
Who will be responsible for utility, cable, water, and other fees;
What space the roommate agreement includes (bedroom, bathroom, living space, parking space, use of backyard…)
Whether pets are allowed.
How the roommate agreement may be terminated and whether notice is required;
If a roommate wishes to move out, whether they will be responsible to find a new roommate, and whether they will continue to be responsible for rent payments; and
How a disagreement will be resolved (discussion between the parties, mediation, court).
A roommate agreement can be made as specific as the relationship and the accommodations require. Even if not included in the written agreement, you may wish to discuss things like whether food will be shared, and who will be responsible for cleaning shared living spaces, and how shared living expenses like toilet paper and cleaning supplies will be shared. If you require assistance with drafting a roommate agreement, our friendly, experienced lawyers are available to assist you. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation.